The Era of the Independent Bike Shop is Nearing its Final Curtain

Our second child was only 3 weeks old when we opened A Bicycle Named Desire in 2012. I began my time in the bicycle industry of New Orleans back in 2010 with Confederacy of Cruisers, the very first bike tour company in the city. When I branched out and started my own business, I did so in the space next door to their shop—we melded into a small, locally owned cooperative of businesses. It was built with the aid of friends and family as a space, not just for bikes, but also for artists, raconteurs, and those special people that call New Orleans home.

Defying child labor laws, our kids grew up cleaning bikes and selling lemonade on the sidewalk in front of the shop. We never made it rich, nor did we really want to, but we were able to live comfortably while sharing our love and passion for New Orleans with tourists and locals alike.

Sadly, this city doesn’t always reciprocate the love you give. We paid taxes, employed locals, and supported other local businesses—including the Neighborhood Story Project—while the city decided to subsidize an out-of-state corporation owned by Uber. Did Blue Bikes really need free public spaces and a huge publicity campaign with the mayor to succeed? The city failed in its role as a steward of small businesses and strong communities, giving away its responsibility to grow local industries by opening the gates to every outside organization with more money to spend and smoother operators to sell their snake oil to the local rubes.


Healthy competition did not have to make us enemies. I worked with many other bicycle rental companies on a regular basis. The difference between the average New Orleans bicycle rental company and Blue Bikes is at the level of the playing field upon which we find ourselves. As far as I know, their business is the only one with corporate sponsorship, city property upon which to position their product, and deep enough pockets to give away their service for free to any and all for the entire month of September. Our pockets are just “regular guy deep” and can’t compete with Uber Bikes. After a 60% drop in sales, we will be closing shop at the end of November.

After a lifetime spent in Louisiana and most of it in New Orleans, I have a low bar of expectations for city government. I guess it just wasn’t low enough.

Cassady Cooper opened A Bicycle Named Desire, a Marigny-based bike rental and tour company, in December 2012. After nearly 6 years in business, Cassady announced that he will close the business in November 2018.

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3 thoughts on “The Era of the Independent Bike Shop is Nearing its Final Curtain

  1. Perfectly said Cassady Cooper. The loss to the community when a small independent business is pushed out by such a corporation affects us all as the rich funky character of New Orleans is what sets it apart, attracting visitors from around the world.
    We travel a great deal and we are always proud to tell people where we come from as, invariably, their eyes light up and they say some version of “Oh, I’ve always wanted to go there!” Making New Orleans just one more place with cookie cutter corporate services costs us all.
    I have no doubt that whatever you do next with such powerful passion will again succeed but I am far less certain about the direction of the city under such short sighted policy.

  2. This is so sad Cassady. As a frequent visitor to NOLA one of my stops, many times with new visitors, are the local businesses like CofC, BND and the gift shop. The character of NOLA comes from it’s independent people, and not the ones who tend to be located in the heart of the tourist zones or own franchised businesses. It’s people like you, the small coffee shops and bars dotted outside the FQ, Ronald’s house of Dance and Feathers, Burnell’s store-deli-laundry and more in the Lower 9th – that’s NOLA. As it becomes more and more a caricature of what it was when I first visited, I feel bad for the people like yourself and many other locals who are pushed out by corporate and government greed. Whether it’s Uber bikes, Airbnb or the growing group of landmarks that get bought as investments instead of run with love, everyone loses but the corporations. Even the city will lose in the end.

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