Electric Lady revs up plans for bike shop to serve next generation of ‘city trekkers’ at 23rd and Union

ElectricLadyFINAL2bigAlex Kostelnik says you should think of his plans for two bike shops around 23rd and Union like an old school Sears — but with a bike lane, not an escalator.

“Think of it like a department store,” Kostelnik tells CHS. “Only you go down the street to get to another department.”

This winter, Kostelnik will open Electric Lady, a new store inside the currently under construction development on the southwest corner of 23rd and Union. Where his 20/20 Cycle tops out with used bikes around $400 to $600, Electric Lady is set to address a riding market that Kostelnik believes is finally ready for business in Seattle.

The Central with 92 apartment units and 4,500 square feet of commercial space is set to complete construction at 23rd and Union before the end of the year

The Central with 92 apartment units and 4,500 square feet of commercial space is set to complete construction at 23rd and Union before the end of the year

“99% of my biking has been spent commuting by bike,” Kostelnik said. “I’m 47 and never owned a car.” Plus, Kostelnik is a new father — so he has a growing interest in the cargo end of a cargo bike.

Electric Lady*, inspired by and named in the glow of amazement Kostelnik felt as his wife gave birth to his first child 10 months ago, will feature electric cargo bikes, a full line of new bikes, kits, gear including handmade bike bags and panniers, “and the best touring rack selection in Seattle.” The Lady will also sell Kostelnik’s handmade Kalakala bikes and he’s working on which folding bike and single-rider electric bike brands to feature. The new bike section is set. Italian classic Bianchi, the oldest bike manufacturer in the world, will house its line inside the coming Central District store. *Kostelnik is also a recording engineer so the name is also inspired by Electric Lady Studios, of course, the legendary Greenwich Village studio constructed for Jimi Hendrix.

The star attraction will be the cargo “city trekking” bikes designed to carry commuters, and families, and dogs, and cats, and Christmas trees, and sometimes more than a 100 pounds of stuff plus a rider. On Saturday, you can check one out at a pop-up event at 20/20 Cycle featuring the new Xtracycle Edgerunner.

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“I’ve been trying to sell cargo bikes for 10 years,” Kostelnik said. “It’s been a long road to get Seattle interested.” But the interest has arrived — especially in Central Seattle. Kostelnik said he saw the trends shift only recently as 20/20 began referring more and more customers to other shops to buy cargo-type bicycles that can better handle life’s loads.

“My bike shops represent my life and everything we sell is a kind of transfer of my self.”

The time for electric has also come, Kostelnik said, thanks to a technological leap forward with new mid drive motors. The mid drive setup includes a motor built into the bottom bracket of the bike and separate from the standard gears and wheels of the bicycle. Kostelnik said the change makes for a simpler electric motor experience that is a more natural ride and doesn’t involve managing a throttle while allowing the motor to work with the gearing as the rider pedals. Add the improved lithium ion batteries and squeezing charges down to a couple of hours, and the technology is finally ready for prime time, Kostelnik said.

Along with the utility and tech upgrades, the rides also feature another leap for the Central Seattlelite bicyclist — the bikes will cost from $3,000 to $6,500. But Kostelnik also wants Electric Lady to be a resource for those with, well, fewer resources by providing kits to help riders create DIY trekking machines. “I don’t want to be Banana Republic,” Kostelnik said. He sees it as part of the now nine-year mission he has been on since opening 20/20 Cycle to help Seattle’s riders stay on the road

“My bike shops represent my life and everything we sell is a kind of transfer of my self,” Kostelnik said.

The new shop also represents a new partnership with some old friends. Kostelnik said that longtime 20/20 employees Chris Gilliam (he’s the one who likes to bake bread) and Robb Kunz (he’s the sound artist) are part of the Electric Lady ownership.

Kostelnik is currently planning a most bike-unfriendly December opening but said he decided to go for it at the behest of his Lake Union Partners landlords who offered a few months of free rent to get the space into motion as soon as the building is ready. Kostelnik said the rest of the commercial mix in the building is still in flux — if you’re a cafe or restaurant owner who’d like to neighbor the next generation in Seattle bike shops, you know who to call.

The new shop will be shiny and, indeed, new in sharp contrast with 20/20 Cycle which looks… not new. But Kostelnik said to expect a bit of 20/20 seep into the new space including plans for a utility pole in the middle of the sales floor to give the shop a little bit of a street feel inside.

As a new generation of bikers emerges and he creates a dealership to serve it, Kostelnik said he is also proud to be opening in the Central District where he originally built his business and a neighborhood he has been part of since graduating from TT Minor elementary school in 1976.

“I’m proud of the changes in the neighborhood,” he said. “It is gentrifying. It is complicated, we all know.”

Electric Lady is planned to open in The Central building on the southwest corner of 23rd and Union this December.

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9 thoughts on “Electric Lady revs up plans for bike shop to serve next generation of ‘city trekkers’ at 23rd and Union

  1. Electric Lady, inspired by and named in the glow of amazement Kostelnik felt as his wife gave birth to his first child 10 months ago.

    Sounds like a rip-off of Jimi Hendrix Electric Lady Studio or Electric Ladyland album.

      • Dear jseattle, I’m an avid reader of this blog but I’m only 15. Please don’t forget that not all your readers know a lot of detail about Jimi Hendrix or the 1960s – yet! This blog is one of the ways that I use to learn about the history of my neighborhood. Thank you very much for all you do Addie

    • … And if the commenter knew anything about Alex he’d know there is nothing that is a “rip-off” given Alex also has a deep background in music recording and work on Ampex tube equipment. Oh internets for having so much knowledge available so many of your denizens display their level of ignorance so easily…

  2. It is only obvious if one is aware of where the term came from. Electric Lady belongs to Jimi Hendrix. Therefore, the inspiration/influence came from him. Give credit where cedit is due. Seems fair to me. “God help you, little one”. I agree, especially if his sources are short on facts. I bet Jimi would be flatterd though.

  3. Alex built my extracycycle cargo attachment to haul kids and stone samples around. I’m getting old and like the electric boost. Good luck to all. It’s been great watching the street come to life over the years.