Word of mouth is spreading about a cost-effective alternative to buying a new bike.
New gear can be expensive, and with that in mind, one local cyclist has organized a regular event that gives pedalheads the chance to buy and sell used items while building relationships within the cycling community.
Milenkovitch Milenkovitch has worked at Oak Bay Bicycles for about five years, and started running Victoria’s first regular bike swap meet two years ago.
“I used to live in Arizona and they had a swap meet there once a year that was the equivalent of shutting down Government Street between Fort and Pandora,” Milenkovitch said. “That’s where I got inspired.”
The meets take place on the last Thursday of the month in the parking lot behind Oak Bay Bicycles’ Victoria location. However, Milenkovitch stressed the shop itself has no affiliation with the swap meets.
“We don’t represent sellers or their products and do not take any portion of sales,” he said.
What they do provide is a venue for casual and hardcore cycling enthusiasts alike to buy and sell anything from high-end mountain bikes to spare parts, tools, and even clothing.
The meets capitalize on the same concept that has made websites like Used Victoria or Kijiji so popular: that with a little time and effort one can find a secondhand gem for a fraction of retail price.
Of course, there’s also the appeal of not having to pay any HST when dealing directly with the seller on a cash-only basis.
The two-hour length of the monthly swaps can also lead to great bargains.
“It’s a buyer’s market, because you only have two hours to lower your price,” Milenkovitch said.
It’s taken awhile for word of mouth to spread, but the number of people showing up to the swaps has steadily grown.
At the July swap meet, curious buyers milled about while prospective sellers eyed up their potential customers.
“No bites yet, but a few lookers,” said Trevor Hood. “It’s still early though.”
Hood, who buys bikes at garage sales and fixes them up at his Fernwood home, had about 10 different bikes for sale.
“I guess you could say I’m a bit of a collector.”
Another seller, who gave his name as ‘Mel’, said swaps like these are a good way to meet fellow bike nuts.
“It’s a part of the culture,” he said. “It’s a way everyone gets together, and it’s more social than the Internet.”
Milenkovitch didn’t initiate the swaps with any sort of grand plan. He just wanted to provide a way for people to be able to do business on a more human level.
“It can be a more comfortable way to buy and sell, meeting someone face to face at a place like this instead of finding them online and going up to a stranger’s house,” he said.
And there’s another benefit to swaps like this.
“It encourages the recycling of old bike stuff,” Milenkovitch said. “Things people outgrow or don’t use anymore. You don’t always need something brand new.”
There are three more swaps planned for this year. They happen Aug. 25, Sept. 29 and Oct. 27 (weather permitting) from 6 to 8 p.m. in the parking lot behind Oak Bay Bicycles, 1990 Oak Bay Ave.