West Hill Shop
This historic Putney institution changed hands in 2004, when locals Jim and Diny Sweitzer bought the shop from Neil Quinn, the sole remaining founder of the West Hill Shop, circa 1971. There is still a rich and lingering history that many “back in the day” cyclists and Nordic skiers often fondly recount of the funky ole shop without plumbing and a wood stove for heat; the Tour of the Valleys Road Race that finished at the top of West Hill Road; the Washington’s Birthday Nordic Ski Race through Westminster and Putney; or the franken-mountain bike fabricated to ride Putney Mountain before there were such things as mountain bikes (which now hangs from the ceiling).
The shop has gone through a multitude of upgrades, some minor and others quite noticeable. The old leaky warehouse was torn down and is now the main retail space and bike service area, thanks to the resourceful construction crews of Kent Webster and Ted Benson. And now there is a bathroom (which we women applaud) that is decorated with old posters and photos, like a shrine to women cyclists of the past.
A few years later, the Sweitzers added a ground-source water-to-water heat pump system to heat the new building followed by a 28-kilowatt photovoltaic electric solar system. The electricity the solar array makes is 14% above the needs of the shop, making the shop net zero. Or actually, net negative.
Today the West Hill Shop continues as a low-key, friendly source for wisdoms and advice, bikes and Nordic skis, clothing and gear, repair service and bike fitting, with places to ride or ski either right out the door or just up the hill. Folks travel from afar for the staff’s experience, from trouble shooting the allusive fix, finding just the right part, matching cyclists with the right bike, or picking the best Nordic ski for the job.
Come take a look…and look closely. There are creative accents and bike parts repurposed throughout the finished details of the shop: crank arm door handles, old road fork shelf supports, ski tip balusters, Crank Bros Egg Beater toilet paper holder, and yes, a forty-five plus year cycling history still adorns the ceiling and the walls with a wood stove that heats the old shop.
Click here if you are interested in reading Neil’s Quinn’s account of West Hill Shop’s true beginnings.
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