Bike Shopping: Falls Church Bike Club

Much like I previously reported on my search for a Lasik doctor, and for a replacement window company, I’ve decided to report my progress on looking for a new commuter bike. I visited a couple over the weekend, so I’m going to post the results throughout the day today. Very appropriate since this is Bike to Work Week, culminating in Bike to Work Day on Friday for you slackers out there.
At each shop, I attempted to find a salesperson who could pick out a bike that met these requirements:
1) Get me to work for my 7.5 mile commute over all asphalt trails and roads, some mild hills.
2) Takes a rear rack for my panniers and fenders for rain riding.
3) Occasionally tow the kids in the bike trailer on weekends trips to the grocery store and other errands.
4) New or used doesn’t matter.
My first visit was to a little shop in my old neck of the woods, Falls Church, called the Bike Club. I wouldn’t be surprised if the first rule of Bike Club is: Don’t talk about Bike Club. It’s a tiny little shop with myriad bikes hanging from the ceiling. When I arrived, the manager was finishing lunch or something, and the bike mechanic was taking a smoke break in the store. I gave the manager my requirements, and he called back to the mechanic and they agreed they could build up an older steel lugged frame road bike that could work for about $350. We talked a bit about those possibilities, and he started warming up and talking about other newer possibilities, including the Fuji Crosstown hybrid.
I wasn’t particularly impressed with the shop. Yeah, it’d probably be cool if I was a bike junkie who needed spare parts and was a geek about components and bike building. But as a regular person, it was a cramped dingy shop that only a mother could love. Plus, I could get a similar used bike from my local bike co-op for cheaper and support the kids who are building them too. Probably not going back here.