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March 25, 2007

Guthrie Bicycle 103 Years Young

The possibly oldest Bicycle Retailer in the Western United States has closed its oldest location.

Guthrie Bicycle, of Salt Lake City, made news with this announcement:

Just when Salt Lake City wants more residents to commute by bicycle, downtown's only bike shop - and one billed as the oldest in the West - has closed.
    Guthrie Bicycle, 158 E. 200 South, shuttered at the end of January. Its Sugar House spot, 803 E. 2100 South, remains open.
    While business has been slow since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, shop owner Richard Goddard said that wasn't the reason for the closure.
    Goddard's family, which owns the building that housed the shop, was approached by a buyer. While the structure wasn't for sale at the time, the family agreed to do it.
    Because the building has been in the family since about 1931, the decision was difficult.

Read the full story, by Heather May, of the Salt Lake City Tribune, here.

There is much more to this story, not the least being that while a "Location" has been closed, the ( quite possibly? ) "Oldest Bicycle Retailer in the West" is STILL very much in business, and very proud of its illustrious history.

Built in 1890, the three-story structure is on the National Register of Historic Places and represents commercial architecture prevalent in the Utah Territory in the late 19th century, according to the register nomination form.

The history of the company, and its connection to cycling, goes back as far as 1888, and the current owner of the company is the Great-Grandson of the  man who bought the business in 1926.

I love the History Page of their website!! What makes it special, in my book, is not the written story it tells, which is short, and to the point, but the photos! ;-D

I'd love to have more to read, about their history, but that's only a minor quibble. ;-D

Gene Busbee, of Biking Bis, first brought the story to my attention with a post of his own.

As I told him there is a Retailer in Ontario, CA. that has been around since 1909 ( Bumstead's Website is inactive! ), one in Long Beach, CA. ( Jones ) that has been around since 1910, and there is also 1 in Santa Barbara ( Hazards ) in business since 1914 ( See list in Sidebar. ).

In discussing the longevity issue, I loved the Genealogy-style e-mail he sent me:

Well, maybe the whole thing is a can of worms. That
Trib article mentions that the great grandfather moved
the Guthrie's shop into the building in the '30s, so
it wasn't in the same location since 1904.

In any case, let's follow the bouncing ball here, as
they used to say on the cartoons....

So as far as the history (thanks for the link, I'll
add that), Meredith Bros. started making bikes in Salt
Lake city, then they brought in Guthrie in 1904 and
that made the store Meredith and Guthrie.

Then Manwaring bought the store, kept the name Guthrie
Bicycle Co. (don't know what happened to Merediths)
and it's still in the same family.

Now the great grandpa moves the store into the
location in the 1930s. Move the clock ahead 70-some
years and that store closes.

In the meantime, Guthrie Bicycle Co. opens another
store in Sugarland, which is a neighborhood of Salt
Lake City. That store remains open.

Really, there are lots of ways to dice this up. The
downtown store that closed did have the most direct
link to the original, which started when Guthrie
became a partner in 1904. The Sugarland store is kind
of like a spinoff.

If the store were a tree (bear with me), it sprouted
in 1888 and was grafted in 1904. Then it was
transplanted in the 1930s. Sometime since then it
dropped a seed, which sprouted and survives, while the
original was buzzed sawed down.

Sooooooooooo, the bicycle company might be the oldest,
but the surviving store might not be.

Good. I think I've sufficiently muddied everything up!

LMAO! ;-D

As far as I know the next oldest Retailer in the West is the one in Ontario, but the next oldest Retailer with an active website is the one in Long Beach.

Where the oldest Shop "Location" in the West now is is a good question. ;-D

As for the rest of the Guthrie Website:

Once you get past the advertising, and Tips, found on the Home Page, there is some good stuff.

There is a nice Catalog page, with info on items they sell.

An extention of that is an Our Bikes Page that informs you about the brands of bicycles they sell, including ( I like this further connection to Cycling History! ) Raleigh, one of the oldest Bike makers in the world.

Their Links Page is a great collection of resources for Advocacy and Organizations, Bicycle Industry Suppliers, and Bicycle Touring Outfits.

Give the Guthrie Bicycle website, and its History Page, especially, a visit.

March 25, 2007 in Meet The Elder Statesmen ( and Women! ) | Permalink

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Comments

Great post and thanks for the history. You're right the pictures are great!

Posted by: suitcaseofcourage | Mar 26, 2007 11:44:37 AM

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