Big Shark Bicycles Moving to Former Hi-Fi Fo-Fum Spot in Richmond Heights

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Big Shark wide

As we noted when initially reporting on the 14-story mixed-use building planned for The Loop, Big Shark Bicycle Company has been looking for a new tank. As caught by 40 South News, we’ve finally reeled in the exact location. The shop will occupy the former Hi-Fi Fo-Fum building at 1155 S. Big Bend Boulevard in Richmond Heights, with a some significant changes.

The shop will occupy the single-story garage on the north end of the site. The two-story building at the corner will be demolished, leaving approximately 7,000sf of retail space. According to Big Shark owner Mike Weiss, the corner building has been found to be structurally unsafe and could not be renovated.

BigShark streetview

Big Shark_site plan

The single-story building will retain the glass block art deco windows on the north and west walls. The garage doors will be glassed in for an entrance and a functioning glass garage door will open to a patio area. The area to the south will become 22 parking spaces and landscaping.

The new location, just north of I-64 and across from the popular Fozzie’s Sandwich Emporium, has a nearly identical foot print to the current location at 6133 Delmar Boulevard. The Loop location is planned to remain open through mid-April with a transition to the new location taking just a few days.

Weiss recently told the Riverfront Times that the changing Loop prompted the move. “Parking is a problem because everyone else is so busy,” Weiss stated. “It seems like the Loop has become a destination for entertainment and dining at the expense of retail.”

Building owner and Loop developer Joe Edwards also has plans for the location, which will become a concert venue filling a size between the Pageant and Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room. Immediately east is planned a 14-story mixed-used development with 210 apartments. Edwards is the driving force behind the Loop Trolley project, which some believe will make Delmar less bike-friendly by introducing rails to the street.

Delmar Hall in The Loop{Delmar Hall concert venue planned for space being vacated by Big Shark}

Echelon Constructors is renovating the building. The building’s owner, Hany Abounader co-developed the Del Taco/Naugles “Flying Saucer” building on Grand and Forest Park Avenue. The location has served as a supermarket and auto-repair shop. Hi-Fi Fo-Fum closed in early 2011 following the death of longtime owner Ron Bliffert. The building has been vacant since.

Big Shark opened in The Loop in 1993. Its first location was next to Vintage Vinyl, then across the street, then east to its current location. Big Shark also operates a downtown location next to the Downtown Bike Station, and a third location in Chesterfield, where it operates its Pedal Hard training facility.

Big Shark has appeared annually on Bicycle Retailer’s Top 100 bike shop list and has been recognized by several publications as a top bicycle shop in the nation. The shop and owner Mike Weiss, run events from UCI internationally sanctioned cyclocross races, to the Gateway Cup criterium series, and triathlon events. He was also instrumental in bringing the Tour of Missouri to the state for its three-year run.

BigShark2 BigShark

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  • IgnatiusJReilly

    Access to the interstate, playa! 28K AADT on Big Bend n/o 64, and 173K AADT on I-64 between I-170 and the City Limits. I’d take that over co-location with 7 Thai restaurants, 3 head shops, and a turd of a music venue any day of the week.

  • SilverBullet01

    Love reading about all these bike shops setting up. Let’s blanket the area in dedicated bike lanes! As amazing as Great Rivers is, they just need to speed up a little bit and interconnect.

    • IgnatiusJReilly

      Agreed. We need more dedicated bikeways up in these hoods. But we can’t blame Great Rivers Greenway that we don’t have more. City of St. Louis, St. Louis County Dept. of Highways and Traffic (aka “We’re not a bike department”), MoDOT, and local municipalities are solely to blame. They own the roads, not GRG.

      • STLEnginerd

        If it was a priority for big shark they could have built nearer to one. The bicycle infrastructure boosters have to feel a little jilted. Big Shark was like thanks multimodal is nice but we like access to interstate traffic feel free to build more bike lanes our direction. Just saying at some point business have to DEMONSTRATE how they value these things instead of hoping they are provided after the fact.

        My thinking is big shark would have been a nicer fit in the high point area close to forest park etc, or at FPP and Big Bend. I know space and cost were issues so maybe they just couldn’t find anything that worked for them.

        Best of luck to them though.

  • Pingback: Hi-Fi Fo-Fum building to be bike shop | 40 South News()

  • Pippin Schupbach

    My husband and I are sadden to see Big Shark leave the Loop, as we live walking distant to the current location. We have given Big Shark a lot of business over the years, and will continue to support them in their new location just not as much. Also, we understand Mike’s concerns about parking with the Trolley. Mostly we are sad to see a business leave the city and move to the county.

  • Jaeger

    Excellent get Hany! Great location, and a great tenant who will do very well there! Its actually a very tough corridor, as evidenced by how long the building has sat vacant. Local commercial is great and an asset, but it means very limited choices, limited growth, and it’s much harder to make it economically feasible. Properties like this don’t have many options, and when a premier tenant like this comes along you MAKE IT WORK!
    Their space in the Loop will be snapped up quickly for a use that fits much better, but I have to say that this business served as a great attractor while it was there, and it was a lot easier for the WU students to walk to. I would guess that the few who don’t drive BMWs and Mercedes as 18y/o undergrads were buying these high end bikes.
    As to the critics: Why don’t you buy these buildings and rehab them yourselves if they’re so valuable, such an asset, and such an opportunity? The market does not agree with you and many can be had at bargain prices. Far from lending credence or purity to your comments, that just makes you look stupid. But then, you’re not trying to be smart or actually accomplish anything, are you? You’re just trying to sound righteous and smart on the internet! Fail.

    • Alex Ihnen

      “As to the critics: Why don’t you buy these buildings and rehab them yourselves if they’re so valuable, such an asset, and such an opportunity?”

      Stop it.

      “But then, you’re not trying to be smart or actually accomplish anything, are you? You’re just trying to sound righteous and smart on the internet! Fail.”

      True for at least one commenter in this thread.

      • Jaeger

        Sorry. I’ll tone it down. I get passionate. I’m passionate because I care very much about this city, and by that I mean the people in it, not some buildings.

        • Alex Ihnen

          No problem – thanks for being part of the conversation. I’d offer that our buildings are a reflection of the people. It’s a good reminder to not exactly put buildings ahead of people, but our built environment makes much of St. Louis unique. Every time we drive our kids to Cincinnati one of them inevitably remarks as we drive down some road that looks like Manchester or Big Bend or Gravois (as they mostly are in St. Louis County) that it looks like we never left St. Louis. I just nod my head.

  • Tysalpha

    It’s really unfortunate that the showroom building is the one that’s being demolished. It’s by far more aesthetically pleasing. But that being said, *seasonally* I can see Big Shark needing that much parking space. I’ve been in their current location on a springtime Saturday morning. It can be nuts.

  • Hany

    Hi I am the developer. We tried as hard as we could to save the two story building but it has been soaking in water for a long time and is a big soggy mess. Structurally, the corner is falling out toward Big Bend and would cost a fortune to restore. And parking: The current lot only has 11 parking spaces and I don’t know a retailer in the country that needs 15,000 sf with only 11 spaces. 22 spaces for 6,500 sf of retail is well below code and Big Shark might have 10 employees parking there on busy days. That stretch of Big Bend has lacked parking for eons and that is what has hindered that trade area (ask the neighbors behind Fozzies and Mr Wizard). Anyway, we did make every effort to save the entire structure but this is the best possible outcome I believe. I am sure people might have their own opinions but I am really excited about the project. As I told all of the great preservation activists after we decided to save the Flying Saucer, please buy some coffee and burritos to support our preservation efforts. So I will say now, please support Big Shark, Mike is an awesome guy and has real passion for this City – as do I. And this is the first time I have ever posted on social media so please take it easy on me – I have a family with four kids 😉

    • I like Big Shark and I like Mesa. Have traded with both. I live roughly equi-distant from the two, so it was nice to be able to stop in to Mesa when I went south and west and Big Shark when I went north and west. I wonder if it makes sense for two bike shops to be so close… (not to mention the one in Maplewood). I never understood why Walgreens and CVS built so close to one another, or Lowes and Home Depot. So it must not be a particular problem. Hany, you might be able to give your thoughts on the proximity issue on how that works to the benefit of all.

      • resident

        I think this is recognized as agglomeration or spatial agglomeration. There is a net benefit to being close to competition for certain retailers. Sure, both stores will have to compete more directly on pricing, but by being close to one another, they begin to form a product-specific business center. Consumers are attracted to showing up in one geographic location and having multiple stores to choose from.

    • chris sauer

      Did you put a new roof on the building when you bought it? I’ve heard this tired line from developers for the last 30 years. Let the building fall into the street, then become the Savior to tear it down for a parking lot. It’s the St. Louis way. We need a bike shop with a parking lot for 40 cars because there is such a high demand for a $1200 bike. Look at the crowd standing in line at the
      Delmar location just to get in the shop!

    • Alex Ihnen

      Hi Hany – thanks for posting. It seems that Starbucks and Chipotle are doing quite well. I’d go there more, but it’s a horrible location to ride a bike to and there’s often no parking when I drive. 🙂

      Anyway, Big Shark will do great here. Losing the corner building is a disappointment for many. It should be against code to allow a building to deteriorate as this has done. It’s too bad historic tax credits and other incentives couldn’t have been utilized to get a bigger project done.

      The criticism you find here is (almost entirely) a criticism of the system – transportation planning, parking regulations, etc. that have negatively impacted our city. I admittedly am not the one trying to sell or lease a building. It’s relatively easy to voice “what should be” when I have no responsibility in the matter.

      That said, our communities do not often enough voice their aspirations and expectations. We continue to lose a lot of our built environment, our history and culture, from neglect and poor planning. It doesn’t have to be this way and so we work to raise awareness, get more people involved, and create a better, more sustainable St. Louis.

      • Hany

        I agree Alex – it should be an intelligent conversation between developers and preservationists that takes both sides into consideration. I consider myself a developer AND preservationist so I tried everything possible to save the showroom but there were just too many issues to enumerate on this thread. Thanks for writing such a positive article and for your work in preservation!

      • Timm

        Chipolte def needs more parking spots. Now that the rest of the lot, while still 90% empty all the time, has stopped the saucer parking a tow truck sits there in the back waiting for someone to mistakenly (or frustratingly) park then tows the car the min you go inside

    • Presbyterian

      Thanks for elaborating. I appreciate knowing the details.

    • John R

      Hany, do you have a handle on the demographics of your Flying Saucer customers? Are they largely SLU-related or a good mix?

      • Hany

        Great mix of SLU students/faculty and professionals. Also a very diverse population which is great as well. It bodes well when other retailers are looking at the trade area.

    • tony

      Couldn’t some sort of arrangement been made with Starrs next door? Dont they have something close to 30 spots? What a great strip it would be with Clayshire Electric, GLB motorworks, 1200 Big Bend, and a new Hi-Fi building.

  • moorlander

    22 parking spaces for one shop seems like a lot. I can’t imagine 20 customers in the store at the exact same time all having driven separate cars? It’s a shame unique 2 story building couldn’t have been saved and a parking solution could not have been worked out with Starrs. That’s more parking than Ultimate Bride next store where you have bride, bridesmaids, GMA, and aunts all driving separately to the store.

  • SnakePlissken

    As much as I hate to say it, the section being demolished had to go. I’ve been in the building a few times over the years and it was indeed in terrible condition. Bite my tongue but, ugh, parking is needed along this stretch of Big Bend. I was thinking to myself, good luck if they didn’t acquire more. This vacant stretch of Big Bend is usually a business killer – aside from Fozzi’s – business’s cycle through here faster than, um, a Big Shark customer :-/ This is good news for area.

  • tztag

    They are tearing down one of the buildings on the lot on Big Bend for yet more parking? Incredible. At least we don’t have *this* much parking… http://fortune.com/2016/01/14/parking-is… . BTW- rough count on google maps shows that there are about 28 parking spots next to Big Shark now (and a massive lot behind it), and new location will have 22.

    I wish Big Shark success but as a cyclist there is no way that new location could be a gathering spot for rides. Big missed opportunity to put something in one of the neighborhoods that actually has a shot of becoming more bike-centric and less car-centric. (also posted this on my local Nextdoor discussion)

    • Steve Kluth

      That’s a bit of cherry picking. I counted 26 spots and at least five of those spots are handicapped spots. I believe Big Shark only controls the spots adjacent to its building which means the new location has more parking for its customers. And while the new location is further from the Loop and Wash U, it is closer to Dogtown, Maplewood, and is easily accessible via Wise for cyclists. It’s also a better location for those who do arrive by car due to its location near the now complete Big Bend/40-64 interchange.

      I agree that it’s bad to lose a cool-looking art deco building for parking. You are also correct that the Loop is more likely become bike-centric than the new location. However, they probably know their customer base more than you or me. If the Loop is a great location for a bike shop, a new entrepreneur will fill the void (though it’s more likely a new bike shop would open on Delmar east of the light rail and possibly east of DeBaliviere due to high rent costs in the Loop). If you believe there will be a business void left by this move, think of it as a business opportunity.

    • moorlander
      • tztag

        Glad to see that, thanks for pointing it out

      • Alex Ihnen

        Not really – Wise doesn’t go anywhere. You have to ride on Clayton or Big Bend to get to it. But, riding on Big Bend or Clayton on a weekend isn’t really bad at all. Not my first choice, but it’s fine. Group rides will still meet here.

        As far as parking, it was easy in The Loop when there wasn’t an event at the Pageant. When there is, a security guard has to be in the lot making sure spots are for Big Shark. This is true during the Ice Carnival and other events too. I’m not one to sympathize with parking “problems”, but IMO the issue here is that parking was inconsistent.

        • Anthony Galli

          Dale Ave recently added bike lanes from Big Bend to the Brentwood metro.

      • E_Koko

        I ride Bellevue quite often and it is a great N/S route connecting Clayton/Forest Park and Maplewood/Webster (via Deer Creek Park Trail).

    • resident

      big shark only has the 13 spaces next to their building and I do think being close to mesa cycles and a mile-ish away from maplewood bicycle, influenced their decision to move.

    • twincycles

      Well, Mesa cycles is a few doors down the street and has been a thriving bike shop for years in that location 🙂 I think it’s a good move. The new trolley tracks are not “bike friendly” when you get your wheel caught in those things, and trying to dodge people opening up their car doors while riding isn’t bike friendly either. The extra parking will be great for our team meetings!

      • tztag

        Great! I do wish them success and would glad to be proven wrong about the value of the location.

  • tony

    Although it would be great to save both buildings, i would really rather the north single story building demolished, if 1 of them has to be.

  • tony

    Initial reaction very excited – until hearing the south building is hearing torn down. An overall win, i s’pose.

  • Presbyterian

    I like Big Shark. But I do hesitate when a business says that a building is structurally unsound and therefore must be demolished for a surface parking lot. Structural issues usually are the cheapest fix.

    Of course, it is possible that the original bricks were made out of playdough, or the building was built on a sinkhole or something.

    I wonder whether the owners could elaborate.

  • ParallelParker

    Just live half a block down the street. Hate to see the old two-story Art Deco building on the corner go — but then, again, I had many older beloved relatives who became structurally unsound that we had to let go of.

    • twincycles

      It is sad to see an art deco building torn down, but I’m sure Mike had his reasons. He grew up with an architectural background. 🙂 Can’t win ’em all I suppose! At least something will be happening to it. It’s been sitting vacant for years.

  • Sucks to hear the main portion of the building will be demolished. Big loss for Big Bend.

  • kuan

    Love the old photos of the bldg that are featured at the end