Mikes and Bikes

Meet the Shopkeeper: 20/20 Cycle

We love it when stores do more than sell. With roots in the local music scene, Alex Kostelnik operates his Central District bike shop like a record store/live venue.

By Julia Kernerman October 28, 2013

Two credit cards, a record player, and a pot of tea were all that was needed for 20/20 Cycle to get its bearings in the Central District. Alex Kostelnik moved from the local music scene—working at Laundry Room Studio with Barrett Jones and making some of Nirvana's first videos at the Evergreen State College's TV studio—to the bike shop scene, where he was the proverbial squeaky wheel. It soon became evident he needed a place of his own.
Six months after those humble beginnings, 20/20's start-up expenses were paid off and Kostelnik invested in the next round of necessities: a fake fireplace and a tube amplifier, and an upgrade for the record player. These days he offers special 20/20 Cycle touring and commuting models, and keeps the space full night and day with a steady line-up of after-hours shows.
Check him out on November 15 at 8 when the Hive Dwellers, Chastity Belt, and Cool Ghouls take the space for a ride.

Image: Tom Akin

Shop Talk: What song or album is playing on your store's sound system right now?
Kostelnik: I play Journey Into the Satchidananda by Alice Coltrane, Dead Moon, A Fist Full Of Film Music, and the Sonics. If Scott is working you will undoubtedly hear Broken Spindles and in the mornings, Chris rocks beautiful organ music by Terry Riley.
What was your first job? How does it compare to your job now?
I was a dishwasher at the Hearthstone, a Greenlake rest home. Now, 30 years later, I don’t work for a singular boss, I work for all my customers. It’s harder for them to get me in trouble now!
What’s your favorite thing in the store right now?
The Sealth, our own hand made touring and commuting bike. It’s built with union-made, Mississippi-manufactured U.S. steel and then hand-assembled here in Seattle. It’s named after the famous Seattle ferry boat which, in turn, was named after Chief Sealth.
Where do you shop and eat when you’re not at your store?
The Ballard Farmer’s Market, ETG Coffee, Hub and Bespoke in Fremont, Treasure Island on Vashon, Lucky Vintage, the sandwich window at Cedars in the U-District, and Spud Fish and Chips in Greenlake. 
What do you love about your store’s neighborhood?
I went to school at TT Minor in 1976 and then Garfield High School, so this is the neighborhood of my youth. I was way ahead of the other white kids in my childhood neighborhood of Greenlake; I bussed to the South End for school so I had a multicultural education for free. I believe my shop is here today because of the busing program.
What nearby coffee shops, etc do you recommend?
The Central District has a ton of great, super-local community-centered gathering spots. I love Tougo Coffee Co. Brian, the owner, is basically the ambassador of 18th Street. Katy’s Corner Cafe on 20th and Union brings a super eclectic mix of clientele. For waffles I go to Cortona Café. The Neighbor Lady tavern on Union is perfect. The Ethiopian restaurant Café Selam on Cherry makes the best dish in Seattle, foul. For entertainment, Gallery 1412 has cool shows and New City Theater is great because of its well executed ideas in theater. Lastly, I love Central Cinema. The owner, Kevin, and I went to high school together in 1984.
What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened in your store?
My shows are weird every time. Music performances have been going on for almost eight years now without any problems. 120 people can actually fit in my shop and that’s nuts!
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