Mr. Jalopy, Townsend Bikes Featured in LA Mag

Mr. Jalopy featured in "Maker's Mark" in the Dec. 2009 issue of LA Magazine.

Mr. Jalopy featured in "Maker's Mark" in the Dec. 2009 issue of LA Magazine.

This month’s issue of LA Magazine features two LA bike industry originals: Mister Jalopy and Greg Townsend in a feature called “Hand Made in LA”. The two are featured alongside high-end furniture makers, cobblers, and other trades-people who make world-class goods here in Los Angeles. Presaging, perhaps, the future of commerce in the U.S. the “Hand Made in L.A.” section shows how locally-made goods, and the status they confer, are a big part of what is coming next.

If you haven’t taken a trip to Coco’s Variety Store, located at 2427 Riverside Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90039 (hint: look for the “Kit Kat Clock HQ” painted on the store front) to take a look at his used bikes, lil’ deliquent home starter kits, and fine purified water then you’d better get there before the crowds arrive.

Coco’s Variety store owner, and Maker extraordinaire, Peter “Mr. Jalopy” Coco is featured in the December 2009 issue of Los Angeles Magazine in a section called “Hand Made in L.A.” (on news stands now). His skills with creative re-invention of bicycles and gizmos from bygone eras has got him smack dab on pg. 137 in an article entitled, “Maker’s Mark”.

Coco’s is the only place in LA I know of that you can walk into and pick up a beautifully restored old bike for a fair market price. The mechanics at Coco’s really do a good job on the bikes, and the asking prices on bikes are about what you’d expect from experienced sellers on craigslist – which is to say, fair and resonable. The main difference being you get a chance to test ride may bikes, and see what is available, and simply ponder bikes while standing next to a massive rack of tiny dinosaur toys and googly eyes.

Greg Townsend and his bike frame welding jig in the Dec. 2009 issue of LA Magazine.

Greg Townsend and his bike frame welding jig in the Dec. 2009 issue of LA Magazine.

Also covered in the “Hand Made in L.A.” section is an article about custom frame builder Greg Townsend. I first met Greg a few years back at a party held at Wheelbuilder.com‘s work shop, and then later on at Pasadena’s first Bike Week event adjacent the Wieland Brewery in Old Town Pasadena.

Greg’s bikes are remarkable, and exemplify the craft and work ethic that will hopefully keep Los Angeles’ economy going as this economic kerfuffle we’re in keeps on taking cars off the roads and putting their former driver’s on bikes. After all, Portland saw a dramatic rise in handmade bike workshops once that city built out its urban bicycle network (you can read more about that via Alta Planning’s “Oregon Bicycling Economic Study Update“).

If LA’s upcoming bike plan would steer the city in the direction Portland went a few years ago, there would be a few more craftsmen like Townsend, and variety stores like Mister Jalopey’s, around making fine bicycles the old fashioned way – and keeping our dollars here at home. According to the Oregon Bicycling Economic Study Update, “The value of the bicycling-related industry to Portland’s economy has grown nearly 40 percent since 2006, and is now worth nearly $90 million. This economic sector also provides between 850 and 1150 jobs in Portland.”

Here’s to “Hand Made in L.A.” and Los Angeles Magazine highlighting local artisans producing word class goods! Let’s hope that we’re all able to buy local in 2010 (and beyond), and keep our economy humming and the bike business booming.

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