Cycle store owner played major role in putting Oregon on wheels

After 39 years, Jay Graves is riding his bicycle into the sunset. At least as owner of the Bike Gallery. by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Jay Graves will have the chance to do more biking himself now that he has sold his company, the Bike Gallery. The Lake Oswego branch has been going for 16 years.

Now was just the right time to leave for Graves, who changed the cycling culture of Oregon in his nearly four decades as owner of six Bike Gallery stores throughout the Portland area, including Lake Oswego.

“For years I’ve thought 40 was the magic number, and that I would retire when I was 55 years,” Graves said. “I’ve been exploring different options for quite a while — like passing the Bike Gallery onto the next generation or making it an employee stock-owned company.”

Graves’ final decision was to sell out to Mike Olson of Trek Bicycle Superstore. Meanwhile, long-time Lake Oswego branch manager Kelly Aicher will become a partner in the new company (which will operate under the name Bike Gallery) and serve as general manager of the six stores. So, the Bike Gallery will retain its pre-eminent position in Oregon bike riding.

Meanwhile, Graves will have to do some adjusting.

“It’s the only job I ever had,” he said.

The Bike Gallery dynasty began when Graves was just 15 years old and his dad, Bob Graves, took the plunge to open a bicycle shop in Portland. Bob had three employees ready to work — Jay and his two sisters. The Bike Gallery prospered and grew.

“Dad got into the bicycle business for a different reason than most people,” Graves said. “He loved working on bikes. He thought they were a wonderful machine and that there was a great future for them.”

Dad was right, and a big reason his vision came true was because his son made it happen. Graves received a raft of kudos when he announced that he was selling the Bike Gallery.

“Jay is such a respected leader in the industry,” said Bill Nootenboom of the Meriwether Group, which brokered the deal uniting the two companies.

“I’m proud of what we’ve built at the Bike Gallery and honored to carry on Jay’s legacy,” Aicher said.

Graves will take it slow going into retirement, planning all of the fun things he wants to do. He will remain active in promoting bicycling by being a member of the Oregon State Parks Commission and a board member of Cycle Oregon. He also plans to ride his bike a lot.

Meanwhile, Graves can take pride that he lived up to his motto throughout his long career with the Bike Gallery: “Every day we have the opportunity to change someone’s life through cycling.”

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