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Esquina Bicycle Shop

Esquina Bicycle Shop

Bike shops are the heart of our community; we all use them, need them, and cannot ride without them.

I've been to numerous bike shops during my decade-plus of riding bikes in Los Angeles, from Orange 20 Bikes, Golden Saddle Cyclery (now Allez LA), El Mastero in DTLA, and Orioles Bike Shop near my home in East LA. These shops specialize in commuter bikes, cargo bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes, ebikes, and more.

In these past two years, I found an excellent shop in Boyle Heights, right next to the iconic 6th St Bridge, run by an incredible person named Ollin. The shop is called Esquina Bicycle Shop, a family-owned and operated business that was opened during the full swing of the COVID-19 pandemic. They managed to face uncertainty head-on and, three years later, are still standing firm, helping the bicycle community and the community around the area. What led this family to open a bike shop during the most uncertain time in recent history? We have to go back a few years with Ollin's father.

In 2008, Ollin's father was working at a restaurant, but on the side, he was a dedicated bike mechanic; he had up to 100 bikes in his garage. He traded and sold those bikes until he took a chance and opened a small space called Reyes' Bike Shop on the corner of Sunset and Logan in Echo Park. There, it stood for ten years in the back of a shared space of an old pharmacy building. During Ollin's high school years, he would go and work with his father, learning the trade of being a bicycle mechanic, but that wasn't his calling.

Between 2014 and 2019, Ollin did different things, from attending college, starting a clothing brand with his friend, going to bike events, and doing odd jobs. In 2019, he had his mind set on opening up a music venue, so he took on finding an appropriate space and looking into how he could fulfill that dream. Then, in March 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic looming and starting to take place. All plans of finding a location and opening a venue went out the window; his main priority was to take care of his family and find an income to keep them afloat. Ollin still had the drive to do something big, so he sat down with his sister to discuss options and see if she would like to partner in his next venture. Esquina Bike Shop
It was a precarious time to do anything, let alone start a business, but he persisted in hopes of finding the perfect location suitable for his new dream. In July 2020, he finally found a location a block away from the 6th Street bridge in the historic neighborhood of Boyle Heights. And, just like that, Esquina Bicycle Shop was born. Esquina Bicycle ShopEsquina has been running for three-plus years, serving the community, helping the elderly and young kids, and supporting different bike groups around the area. Beneath the wheels of the bike shop is a basement – rumored to have been a speakeasy lounge from the early 1940s. Ollin revived the former speakeasy into a space for the community and artists. He believes that offering a community space can help first-time artists develop their skills and showcase their work while allowing them to get a foot in the door to experience what it's like to show their work, whether it's paintings, photos, poetry, community workshops, or music.Esquina Bike ShopI've had the honor of working alongside Ollin for numerous photo shows. Additionally, he gave me a shot as a bicycle mechanic, an incredible experience that helped me grow my bike knowledge and learn many new skills along the way.Esquina Bicycle ShopEsquina Bicycle Shop is growing strong through word of mouth, social media, and dedicated hard work. Ollin enjoys wrenching, community organizing, and the occasional bike ride. He works hard for the community, his family, and his friend Sergio Cordova, who passed away from a cycling collision a few years back. He honors him in any way he can, from bike rides to events at the bike shop. If you are visiting Los Angeles or a local, ride across the 6th St Bridge into Boyle Heights and visit Esquina Bike Shop. If you are interested in hosting a workshop, art, or photo show, need a bike repair, or need an accessory for your rides, give Esquina Bicycle Shop a call 'cause Ollin has got you covered.Esquina Bicycle Shop

Photo show at Esquina Bicycle Shop from December 2022.

Words & Photos: Matty "Skipper" Lopez (@mattymattskipper)

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