Expanding a culture

Wendy Rose
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Franklyn’s Finest motorcycle shop focuses on do-it-yourselfers

Matt Dawe (left) and Matt Pardy, co-owners of Franklyn’s Finest, take a break from renovations of their Water Street shop as they prepare for opening on Saturday morning. A do-it-yourself bike and merchandise shop, the focus of the store is aimed at local riders who build and customize their own rides. . — Photo by Wendy Rose/Special to The Telegram

The dull roar of engines can be heard all over the province this week, as bikers unleash their beasts on the finally dry pavement.

At 576 Water Street, a low grumbling of power tools can be heard as Matt Dawe and Matt Pardy put the final touches on their new bike shop.

Franklyn’s Finest, the lovechild of the two business owners and entrepreneurs, will officially open its doors on Saturday, June 29. For the Dawe and Pardy duo, this moment has been a long time coming.

The idea for a bike shop was proposed to Pardy via a text message more than a year ago.

“Matt texted me one day and said, ‘We should open a bike shop.’ I said, yeah man, let’s think about it, and he said I didn’t sound like I was ready to commit. I said, you told me about this five minutes ago. He said, ‘You’re either going to do it, or not do it.’ I had the time, so I decided to do it. That’s how it happened,” Pardy explained.

The swiftly approaching opening date seems almost surreal.

“There’s no other independent shop in town right now and we’re bringing in some suppliers that have never been on the east coast. It’s not just motorcycle stuff either. We’re going to be carrying crossover brands like Loser Machine, Deus and other stuff that will be motorcycle/surf and motorcycle/skateboarder labels as well, which attracts a bigger audience and a younger crowd,” Dawe said.

The ambitious owners do not have business degrees or any previous experience operating a shop, but they were more than willing to front their own money to bring this passion project to life. Armed with business knowledge gathered from friends at Fogtown Barber and Shop, Dawe and Pardy started working on making their dream a reality.

“We’ve both got a background in motorcycles. I worked briefly at Harley Davidson and I’ve worked in an engine shop. We’ve both had motorcycle projects for years and we’re familiar with the market and suppliers. As far as getting into the business and doing it, it’s a big jump for both of us,” Dawe explained.

“I’m going grocery shopping later and I think I’m just going to buy Mr. Noodles. That’s all I can afford,” Pardy said with a laugh.

“Starvation to open a bike shop, basically. But that’s the way we wanted to do it. A lot of places start off with this huge backing and huge debt. We wanted to bring it back to the older way of doing things, where you kind of build it up yourself. You make do with what you’ve got,” Dawe said.

“I did a small bike show and film screening in the fall at Eastern Edge Gallery and through that, I got a load of help from the Death Science crew, Show Class magazine and Builtwell. A lot of these people have become our suppliers. These relationships have been building for almost a year now. We’ve been keeping in touch with everybody and letting them know what we’re up to. They already know a bit of our background. A lot of our suppliers are grassroots suppliers and it’s all about friends helping friends. It’s a community thing.”

The shop already has a Facebook page and an Instagram account, which will hopefully help connect the biker community, as well as suppliers and customers.

“We’ve gone through some lengths to secure all kinds of suppliers. We’ve also got some stuff on the backburner. If you come down looking for something that we don’t have, but it is readily available at another shop in town, we’ll direct you there no problem, but at the same time, we have access to absolutely everything so if you’re sure you want it and you want to buy it from us, we can get it for you. We’ll order it in and you’ll have what you want in a week.”

Franklyn’s Finest specializes in custom parts and motorcycle apparel, but Dawe explains that the focus of the shop is to help connect local riders who build and customize their own rides. Pardy and Dawe hope to turn the shop into a cultural hub for motorcycle enthusiasts of all ages. One of their goals is to create a community vibe, which will lead to organized group rides and the continuation of Two Wheel Tuesdays, a ride followed by a drive-in movie at Williams’ Auto & Cycle.

“We did about a half-dozen rides last summer and it brought in a good mix of people. It got people talking. Again, this is something we’re going to continue when we open. We’ll be basing the ride from our shop and still having a drive-in movie at Williams.’”

Williams is a local mechanic who “knows bikes and cars inside out,” Dawe said. Williams specializes in British bikes.

“We kind of befriended him because I have a British bike. Then we just kept going back to chat with him,” Pardy said.

“He is just really entertaining and great to talk to.”

Dawe and Pardy are both self taught in the ways of motorcycle maintenance and customization. Picking the brains of local mechanics helped further educate the pair.

When asked how he had gathered his extensive knowledge in this field, Dawe attributed it to “hours, days, weeks and years of time spent looking at motorcycles, researching motorcycles, reading about motorcycles, everything that could be motorcycle related.”

“It’s consuming. Once you get into it, you’re into it,” Dawe said.

Pardy testifies that it is an addiction.

“Both of our first bikes, especially mine, were bikes that you constantly needed to work on so it could run. You would constantly be asking questions like, Why did I break down for six hours at Signal Hill? You didn’t want that to happen again so you would have to figure out what was wrong with your bike and then figure out how to fix it. We were both in school, so we never had enough money to bring the bike to a garage,” Pardy explained.

“To me, and I guess it’s the same for a lot of our friends, it wouldn’t be our bike if you took it to someone else. That’s something we want to encourage here,” Dawe said. “We’ve been toying with the idea of having some tech nights, showing people how to change their own oil, how to do regular maintenance on their bike. Maybe one night, two nights a month. We want to get people together, have a bike on display and a registered mechanic down here to show people what’s what.”

“There’s plenty of older guys with older bikes and plenty of younger guys with older bikes, like we were. We didn’t know jack, honestly,” Dawe said with a laugh. “Again, it’s just the spirit of it. To buy something, to care for it and to make it your own.”

With a grand opening planned for August or September, the partners will throw open the doors Saturday morning.

“More than being a bike shop, it’s about being a community,” Dawe said.

“It doesn’t matter if you ride a motorcycle or not. You might come down and see something you like, you might not. Maybe one of these days you’ll change your mind and get a motorcycle. Maybe you won’t. But our doors are always open.”

Organizations: Fogtown Barber and Shop, Harley Davidson, Eastern Edge Gallery

Geographic location: 576 Water Street, Signal Hill

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