New Wolf Cycles manager Sofi Courtney was greeted by boxes and trash bags full of stuff when she ventured upstairs at the shop's recently revived location at 4311 Lancaster Ave.
"We pulled everything out, and right at the bottom there’s a bunch of hats," says Courtney. "Two of them were signed by Eddy Merckx."
Merckx won the Tour de France five times and is considered the "greatest cyclist of all time." One of those hats now hangs in a frame on the shop’s wall.
In operation since 1932, Wolf Cycles is the city’s oldest continuing bike shop with a rich history - and some treasures. In 1976, Carl Miller bought Wolff Cycles from Frank Neumann and Herman Wolf. Although it took Miller over an hour to get to the shop from his Northeast Philadelphia home, he "loved every minute of it." During Wolff Cycle’s later years, his time at the shop began to dwindle. After over 30 years of ownership, he realized it was time to retire.
"My age caught up to me," Miller said.
When he was ready to sell, Miller wanted the business to remain as a bike shop. He was adamant.
"I feel it’s an institution," Miller said. "It’s for the young and old and it should be there. It’s an establishment that that can’t go away."
In November 2011, Sam Davis and Monica Pasquinelli, owners of Firehouse Bicycles on Baltimore Avenue, purchased Wolff Cycles (and dropped the last "f" when it reopened shortly thereafter)
When the new staff arrived, its history began to emerge through old receipts, found objects, and customers. They quickly recognized how much the shop meant to those who grew up in the neighborhood.
"I love that it’s such a neighborhood shop. Everybody has a connection to it," Courtney said. "Everybody’s been coming here their entire lives at least. Or their parent’s lives, their grandparent’s lives. It’s just an incredible community shop."
Courtney said the location of Wolf Cycles "feels very familiar" to its sister shop. The major difference between the two? Wolf Cycles sells a lot of children’s bikes.
"Like everyone bought their bikes here when they were kids," said Cortney. "A lot of it is because people are like, ‘I got my first bike here and I want mine to get theirs here.’"
Wolf Cycles is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. They offer bicycle repairs and services; sell accessories, parts and new and refurbished bikes.
"Right now, we’re serving the immediate local community and students," Courtney said. "We are going for reliable, affordable."
On Tuesday evenings at 6 p.m. (weather permitting), a bike ride to the Belmont Plateau is open to all. If someone does not have a bike for the ride, they can borrow one from the shop.
This summer, Courtney said Wolf Cycles wants to gain visibility in the community and let people know they are there all year round.
Miller said he misses the shop very much. But he is comforted knowing that its history will go on.
"I like seeing the tradition of Wolff Cycles continue," Miller said. "It feels great."
Source: Sofi Courtney, Carl Miller, Wolf Cycles
Writer: Zenovia Campbell