It seems like anything goes these days as we’ve entered a thrilling new era of intentional individuality. In fact, cut and paste culture is alive and well with trends traveling faster than ever and the past informing the present to evolve experiences in new and exciting ways. The same can be said for the cycling world with riders pedaling their way to new escapes via forest and gravel roads far from the dangers of pavement. Naturally, equipment has evolved to meet the needs of those who not only go the distance but also for the discerning person who is looking for an entry point to a new culture.
LUFT (pronounced LOOFT), a new retail space in Venice, CA puts all this under one roof with the two-wheeled community at the center. Originally conceived as a home for the Black Heart Bike Co. by Zach Lambert, the cycling lifestyle shop has expanded to include a variety of brands curated by him with partners, Kristen Kuzemko and Cody Chouinard. A variety of cycling apparel, streetwear, home goods, accessories and now Old Pal Provisions all hang in a modern, warm wood environment akin to a destination shop in Japan. Service is also part of the business creating another inviting touch point for their growing business.
As more and more sports embrace the benefits of cannabis consumption ranging from recovery to aprés activity, it’s hard to ignore its connection to cycling. That’s why we’re proud to have Old Pal Provisions in the mix to help continue this conversation shared by LUFT’s growing community. Here they talk more about the space, their inviting mantra of touch, try and feel and how cannabis fits into the mix.
What was the path that led you to open LUFT?
We recognized a few needs:
1. There are a lot of amazing DTC brands that could benefit from in person interactions with potential customers.
2. There is a need to evolve cycling culture to be more expansive and inclusive.
3. A center for building a strong community is needed more than ever.
For the uninitiated, what does LUFT mean in cycling terms?
LUFT is the german word for "air" and refers to how cyclists wear their caps with a little (or a lot) of air underneath. It's an iconic style that is unique to cycling and has achieved a lighter, cult-like status in recent years. One of our goals is to fill the space with brands that are pushing cycling culture and style forward so we thought it was the perfect fit.
LUFT is such an impressive shop that caters to a specific segment of the cycling world. What’s the common conversation you have with first-time customers?
LUFT is not your typical bike shop. In addition to showcasing cycling brands you don't typically see elsewhere, we curate goods outside of cycling—streetwear, healthgoods, homegoods—so that even non-cyclists can find something for themselves and will feel welcome.
You have a really innovative way of working with brands. Can you share more about the model and how it keeps LUFT fresh?
We bring in brands that we know and love and create a space where they are treated as partners vs. transactions. Each brand is encouraged to view LUFT as their own brick and mortar store, leading to a stronger, more authentic connection with our community.
The gravel trend has blown up in the cycling world. What is your personal connection to that style of riding and what are some of your favorite routes?
In addition to being gravel converts ourselves, we showcase and run a test program for BlackHeart Bike Company owned by one of our partners. We regularly bring in brands that create innovative products for this booming segment and feature our favorite routes on our website for the community to explore.
It seems like the conversation around cannabis and cycling is becoming more common ranging from recovery to relaxing after a long ride. How do you personally make the connection to cycling?
Cycling has such a strong tie to other habitual products—beer, spirits, coffee—that it only makes sense that cannabis is emerging as a preferred product for cyclists as it enters the mainstream. Cycling is a very meditative sport and a source of mental and emotional health for many. It's also an extremely effective conduit for art, creativity and connecting with nature. The synergies are very apparent.
We’re so honored to be in the space. What’s the common ground between Old Pal Provisions and the LUFT lifestyle?
The LUFT lifestyle is one of positivity, inclusion, and expansion. We see our partnership not only as introducing cyclists to Old Pal through the Provisions line, but also introducing non-cyclists to LUFT through the same avenue.
It looks like we’ll all be able to get together soon. What can we look forward to at LUFT?
A welcoming space with unique brands and good vibes (and some weed).
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LUFT is located at 1930 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, CA 90291. Visit their website for more information.