Wheel-builder extraordinaire opens cycling repair storefront

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Joey Mullan said his new storefront has been graciously welcomed from those in the North Proctor neighborhood. Photo by Andrew Fickes

Cycling enthusiasts in North Tacoma looking for personalized service on their prized possession now have a new shop to turn to: Indigenous Wheel Co. at 3320 N. Proctor St.

The man behind the name is Joey Mullan, a 28-year-old Tacoma native whose passion for cycling, and also knowledge and know-how of the sport, is both contagious and refreshing.

Mullan works on a headset overhaul on customer Chris Nelson’s road bike. Photo by Andrew Fickes

“I’ve made myself super flexible. I’m known as the guy to bring your stuff to,” Mullan said. “I believe in more conversation between the mechanic and the rider. People want to know how much they pay and when they will get back their bike, but what I want to know is what they have currently and what they want as their next step. People throw their own personal touches on their bike; their bike becomes an extension of their personality – with vibrant colors and personalized logos, there are fun ways of achieving that.”

The new shop opened in early October, but Mullan first opened his business at his home garage in the Proctor neighborhood in 2015. At his home-based business he had a lot of Internet-based sales and a slew of dedicated customers.

“I took a lot of my (sales) proceeds my first year and had a first-year party,” he said. “We did food, raffles, T-shirts, and product – just really trying to get everyone stoked out on the shop. Every year I have been continuing to do so.”

In late August and September, Mullan made the transition from home-based operation to a brick-and-mortar storefront. The shop came together quickly thanks to his friends in the cycling community and also his wife, Kelsey Cohan.

“Everyone chipped in to help out with the shop,” Mullan said. “It was just a rad way of going about it. Everyone feels invested.”

Mullan said he is committed to sourcing products for his shop from local vendors. For example, Neil’s Screen Printing in Gig Harbor does his T-shirt designs; Damien McDivitt, owner of cannabis retailer Mary Mart on Sixth Avenue, provided him raw materials to use for shelving and overhead lighting; and Travis Selin, owner of Crimson Wraps and Graphics on Jefferson Avenue, designs Indigenous Wheel Co. decals for the storefront signage and Mullan’s custom-made wheel sets.

Mullan also designed an open floorplan concept to allow customers to watch as he goes to work on their personalized project. Part of the design incorporates a bar facing the shop entrance, made of a 16-foot finished slab of cedar. The cedar was cut and shaped by an enthusiastic lumberjack at Crooked Wood Sawmill, located in the shadow of Mt. Rainier.

Mullan decided to open his business after a decade of working at various bike shops, including a shop in Bellingham, while he attended Western Washington University, and after that, at Raleigh Bicycle in Kent, where he served as the company’s Western region demo driver – taking people on road rides and showing off the latest and greatest product.

“I’ve been on a bike ever since I was 4,” he said. “I saved up and bought my first BMX bike in second or third grade. I own eight bikes. All my bikes are race bikes.”

Mullan specializes in cyclocross. He said he does about 40 races each year. A recent race he performed in was MFG, a Seattle-based cyclocross series that took place at the LeMay Car Museum in Parkland, Nov. 5. That was the day Pierce County received heavy snowfall. The fact Mullan rode in the race and endured the inclement weather proves his unrelenting love for the sport.

Mullan specializes in wheel building. He cuts out the middleman and goes direct to the source when ordering parts for his custom wheels. In doing it this way, it brings down the price for the customer considerably – equaling $300 to sometimes $1,000 in savings. Mullan makes custom wheels for local customers but also ships to customers within the U.S.

On a Tuesday morning, customer Chris Nelson dropped off his bike for a headset overhaul, on his way to work. Nelson planned to pick up his bike later that day. A longtime friend of Mullan’s, Nelson said he appreciated Mullan’s level of service and his accessibility.

“He’s taking care of us for more than a reasonable price,” Nelson said.

Mullan said his competition is the Internet, not other cycling shops in Tacoma. Mullan said any cyclist can go to the Internet and purchase a part for cheap, but what they can’t get on the Internet is superior service.

“What you need is a mechanic that can tell you what works best and can make recommendations,” he said. “I’m focused heavily on being service oriented. I’m good at repairing and a quick and reliable turnaround.”

For more information about Indigenous Wheel Co., visit indigenouswheelco.com.

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