STORE: Chari & Co NYC
CITY: New York
SINCE: May, 2008
FOUNDED BY: Yuki and KenÂ
BRANDS CARRIED: Leader Bikes, Brooklyn Machine Works, Charge bicycles, Gorilla Bikes, Cinelli Bicycles, LOOK Cycles, Â Volume Bike Co, and Kinfolk Cycles. Chari x Steven Alan, SAG LIFE, G-shock watches, Super Sunglasses, Outlier Performance Clothing, Swrve Cycling and of course their own brand of clothing and accessories geared towards cycling.Â
WHY WE CO-SIGN: With many folks in New York preferring to get around on two wheels, the city has seen its share of bike shops. Chari & Co NYC, however, stands out because it's not only a store but a bicycling culture-driven lifestyle boutique. The LES spot offers a wide variety of bikes (specializing in the handmade Japanese track frames once used in theÂ Keirin racing circuit) and a fine selection of clothing, accessories, bags, watches, and everything else in between.
Keep reading for an interview with Jahoon who works at the store and pics...
Complex: First things first. What does Chari mean?
Jahoon: "Chari" or "Charinco" means "bike" in casual Japanese.
Complex: Oh. That was simple. So what are some of the most popular items at the store?
Jahoon: The most popular seem to be items made in New York. Brooklyn Machine Works fabricates the Gangsta track and Launchpad in Brooklyn, Outlier is made in the city and produces some of the best quality clothing geared towards the everyday commuter.
Complex: What's your favorite item in stock?
Jahoon: My favorite item is probably the Chari and Co back pocket T-shirts. Ordinary cycling jerseys seem overbearing and odd to wear in everyday circumstances so we created a shirt that can be worn casually and as effectively as a cycling jersey that has back pockets to carry the essentials.
Photo courtesy of Chari & Co NYC
Click here to buy this shirt now at Chari
Complex: Yeah, that's a great one. So you're best known for carrying handmade Japanese tracks frames (and other bike parts). Describe what the process of procuring vintage is like.
Jahoon: It takes time to find frames and parts that are in good condition especially since Japan is very strict about exporting these frames outside of the country. You just have to know the right people because racers are not allowed to talk to anyone when they are in season because it's gambling sport.
Complex: Whoa. That's crazy, we had no idea.
Jahoon: Yeah, it's a measure taken to decrease the likelihood of racers throwing a race.
Complex: Intense. So, let's talk about the store a little bit. Bike shops in the city are notorious for having snobby employees. Is this true for Chari?
Jahoon: No. We strive to make customers happy when they stop by and we're actually friendly and easy to talk to.
Complex: Ha. Of course you'd say that, right?
Jahoon: Bike shops and clothing boutiques get a bad rap as places where workers can make you feel like an idiot or are too impatient to answer your questions. But at Chari we address the customers needs and actually listen to what they want versus other stores that push products on you that you don't need. We don't shoot down ideas you have because we feel a bicycle can be a natural extension of your body.
Complex: That's good to hear. And we're guessing you apply the same principles to your online shop?
Jahoon: Yes. We also take a our online website seriously because if I was on the other end of an order, I'd want what I ordered as quickly as possible and without any errors.Â
Complex: Sure. A little more on your website... It seems that you don't use professional models to showcase your products.
Jahoon: People who model for us are our friends that just happen to be there when new product comes in. We try to do everything ourselves, it's a lot more enjoyable and easy.
Complex: We hear you. Let's talk location. What do you like about being located on the LES? Do you guys interact with other LES spots?
Jahoon: Lower East Side is an interesting community. There are so many new stores and restaurants opening that seem to cater to a different type of demographic that lives in the LES. But at the same time, you still have those old grocery stores and Spanish spots that remain and hopefully endure. There are tons of cafes around us, etc. But for some strange reason, the only other store we interact constantly with is ALIFE because we've been friends for awhile even before Chari opened.
Complex: Switching gears a bit... What's the worst thing about biking in NY?
Jahoon: The general attitude people have towards bicyclists. People who commute on bikes don't seem to have rights and the New York population and drivers are not educated in these laws.
Complex: What are some bike routes that you enjoy or awesome trails that you'd recommend?
Jahoon: Take the train up to Brewster, NY, and ride down the Westchester Trailways. It's about a 50-mile ride that's relaxing and pretty much car free. Its nice to get out of the city for a few hours but in the end, riding in city traffic is always the most fun.
Complex: What are some essential clothing/equipment/accessories for spring riding?
Jahoon: Spring is a funny season. It starts cold in the mornings, but you quickly warm up once you're out. You just need a nice windproof jacket, full finger gloves, and a helmet and you should be fine. As you ride more, you learn what you do and don't need.
Complex: What kind of pants work best when biking in the heat that are still stylish but won't get destroyed?
Jahoon: There are tons of pants that seem to work well depending on your budget, but Outlier's 4season pants and workwear pants are probably the most comfortable on and off the bike. The fabric gives and the seams at the crotch don't irritate your sensitive areas. They are stylish and don't look like cycling clothes.
Complex: Do you have any special projects/collaborations in the works for the near future?
Jahoon: We have a top secret backpack in the works that will be the bag to rule all bags. Also, we have a new Steve Alan collaboration.
Complex: What should people not wear when riding a bike?
Jahoon: People who don't ride often should not wear or use headphones, they are definitely a hazard to others on the road and to themselves.
Complex: And lastly, where is the whole bike culture at and where is it going?
Jahoon: Hopefully cyclists will have more laws protecting them from cars and police officers who don't know them. Bike culture is what you make of it, and bikes are fun. That's how it should always be—who cares what you ride? Just as long as you're happy.Â
Chari & Co NYC
175 Stanton Street
Ground Floor East
New York, NY 10002
Store Hours: Sunday: 12-6PM // Monday-Saturday 11AM-7PM