BCC's Dasjon Jordan sat down with Dashing Bicycles' founder and owner Marin Tockman to talk to her about her pedal-powered vision for Dashing Bicycles as well as the larger Broad Street community.
Tell us about Dashing
I opened Dashing as a popup for different affairs and night markets in October 2013, and I quickly realized that I wanted to take the company from selling bike accessories to being a space not—just a retail space but a space for people to feel comfortable talking and also working on their bicycles in a way that is more commuter friendly than I was seeing in the market. And also I knew from my personal experience as a bike advocate that I wanted to create a space where there was a platform for them as well. So that’s kind of the mission of Dashing: to be family- and women- friendly, and also be a catalyst in the community to support active transportation and advocate for better infrastructure and transportation access.
How did you end up on Broad?
So originally when I was first scouting location, I was looking to this area because it’s very close to city park, it’s very close to the French quarter, it’s in Mid-City, right? So I knew there was a gap in the bike network, as we say here, for access of resources. And when I first opened my store in the quarter, I still could get some people from the 6th ward and 7th ward on their way downtown, the CBD or to the French quarter where most people work. I was able to access those commuters but I wasn’t getting the community feel. I was getting much more of a tourism feel. It just made sense when I was ready to expand my business, it made sense to come to a more embedded neighborhood, where I’m at the crossroads of six different neighborhoods. Broad Street is an “everybody” street. So I am super excited to be here and offer affordable repair and also affordable bikes and kind of elevate the access that people really need to walking and biking in this neighborhood.
I went from 400 square feet to what is now 1200 sq ft.
The other thing that’s cool about Broad Street is that it’s just really diverse. There used to be a bike shop here, one of the oldest in the country and now that I’ve opened on broad, a lot of people are coming in and saying they missed the old space, it’s so great to access again to a great bike shop. A lot of people walk and bike in this neighborhood. You can pretty much get anything you need from your laundry done to your groceries. So it’s really great to have a practical business that people need to be on the street. I’m happy to be of service.
What is the biggest challenge facing Broad Street?
I think the biggest issue that Broad Street faces is that it seems to be a thoroughfare, a well organized state highway. But it is also—when you drive down Broad it’s full of small businesses, its full of access of to the greenway, schools, churches. It just seems to me that it lacks an identity that it already has or branding for what it’s doing. It’s supporting the local traffic but people are zooming by and not really seeing. So you have the Zulu Social [Aide & Pleasure] Club just down the street. You have local restaurants on every single block. And now you have this wonderful grocery store/youth development/fresh food initiative. It’s very exciting to see Broad be productive every day. Everyone’s getting to and from and easily access where they need to go on Broad, but the idea that you’re on Broad doesn’t seem that special. So it would be great to elevate and make people feel at home here. Maybe a branding identity of some sort would be awesome—it would help unify not only us small business but people who really identify with how valuable Broad street is to their everyday life.
What is your one hope for Broad Street?
My one hope for broad street is that it remains a vibrant local corridor that has diverse options and also promotes the diversity that is New Orleans, whether not you come from Bayou St. John, or the 6th Ward, or Gentilly or Broadmoor or Mid-City in general. We’re all kind of unified that Broad is the place to be. That’s my hope that it keeps growing in that wonderful local feel that can also really see the success of people through their lives. You can grow up here and come around the corner and get your bike fixed as a kid and then maybe in 20-30 years you can bring your kids to the same bike shop and have them take off to City Park, just like you did. In that way, you have pride that you spent your time on Broad, it helped you as a kid to find your way through your development to adulthood and then to your older years, you still have that value of how important Broad Street is. Whether it’s because you belong to a social club, or that you like to shop at that one store or you just like to take a stroll down what I think is one of the most happening corridors in the city. That’s what we want it to feel like for a long time.