Look what's become of Colosimo's Gun Shop

Posted: August 15, 2013

S IMON FIRTH, 48, and his wife, Victoria, 49, of Point Breeze, own half of Firth & Wilson Transport Cycles with David Wilson, 47, of Fishtown, on Spring Garden Street near 9th in North Philadelphia. The trio opened June 1 in what was previously Colosimo's Gun Shop, which was shut down in 2009 for violations of federal firearms laws. Firth & Wilson renovated the space to sell and repair transport bikes. I spoke with Simon Firth.

Q: What's your background?

A: I was working in a custom bicycle-frame-building shop, Bilenky Cycle Works [in Olney]. Later I went out on my own and became a frame builder and worked part time. David moved back from Holland, and we decided to open our own retail store and concentrate on transport bikes. These are practical bikes to transport you or your kids and cargo.

Q: How'd you find this location?

A: This neighborhood is coming up, with a lot of loft conversion. We found this on Craigslist.

Q: You know this was a gun shop?

A: When we first checked out the site at the beginning of March, the place still had display cases, holsters and some bullets, but all the guns were gone. The owner [James J. Colosimo] came in and cleaned out the place and we signed a one-year lease on April 1, no joke. I saw the potential of a storefront. It's on the bike lane, and Spring Garden Street Greenway is coming.

Q: What's the story with the fig tree in the back of the store?

A: Colosimo told me his father brought the tree over from Sicily and planted it in 1910. He said if I killed the fig tree, he'd break the lease.

Q: That's funny. OK, let's talk about your bikes.

A: The prices range from $385 up to $5,000. We're selling Xtracycle, which is a sport-utility, cargo bike. We also sell WorkCycles and Onderwater, which is a family tandem bike where kids sit in the front. The bikes are made in Holland, and we assemble them here.

Q: Who are your customers?

A: Right now, it's people rolling by who need a flat fixed, to neighborhood people, men and women. We want to aim our shop at the kid-borne, custom-bike crowd, primarily aged 20 to 40, young families, who want to change from a car to a bicycle lifestyle.

Q: What separates Firth & Wilson from other bike shops?

A: Combined 45-plus years' experience. Quality service and concentration on transport cycles rather than sport cycles. We have designed and built cargo bikes.

Q: What's been the biggest challenge to growing the business?

A: It's getting people to stop on that bike lane. But we've been fliering, we have a Facebook page, Instagram and a website, and they're starting to come in.

Q: How many customers?

A: On a typical day, 20 walk-ins.

Q: Where do you see Firth & Wilson in five years?

A: We want to be a destination store that sells bikes nobody else does and services them.

On Twitter: @MHinkelman

Online: ph.ly/YourBusiness

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