Dooby?s owner, once homeless, built bicycle shop from scratch

Managing EditorBOULDER ? A sign over the entrance to the Pearl Trade Center reads: “If you need Dooby’s roll around back.”

On that note, Doug Woods, former Navy jet mechanic and master of doobyisms, is open for business.

While he lacks formal training or experience in running a bicycle shop, Woods has developed a marketing scheme culled from the 1960s and straight out of Haight Ashbury. It seems to be working. He says his Dooby’s Bicycle Shop is “growing like a weed.”

When he’s selling bicycles, he’s “Dooby the dealer.” When he wants to rent a mountain bike, he suggests “roll one for the day.” Want to buy a Dooby’s T-shirt over the Web? He says you can “score a Dooby’s by mail.”

The euphoric wordplay is endless. “The kind service, friendly employees, and the best prices in town are why more and more people are getting addicted to Dooby’s.”

Enough.

“It’s harmless. Just a fun way to promote the shop,” Woods said. “It’s so Boulder.”

Every day when Woods, 34, turns the key to his shop located behind the trade center in the 1500 block of Pearl Street, he remembers where he was less than two years ago ? broke and homeless.

Honorably discharged from the Navy, the New York native spent his teen-age years in California racing BMX bikes and, as he grew older, cars. He moved to Boulder in 1992 after discovering it while touring the country by bicycle. He made ends meet by taking odd jobs, including a stint at what is now his competition, University Bicycles.

But the death of his brother, Glenn, who died of acute respiratory distress syndrome during a bout with pneumonia in October 1998, put Doug in a tailspin, and he eventually crashed. “I took it hard ? quit working, Woods said. “One day I was in the Navy, then I found myself in a homeless shelter.”

Woods spent two months at the Boulder Homeless Shelter trying to sort things out. “I didn’t want to stay there. And I didn’t want any help,” Woods said. “I realized that life can be short, and you need to make a living at what you love. ? I’d always had a passion for bicycles and was good at mechanical things. I wanted to take control of my life,” he said.

On Feb. 6, 1999, what would have been Glenn’s 31st birthday, Doug Woods opened his bike shop equipped with nothing more than a bicycle repair stand, a few tools and a lot of self pride. He repaired flats and tuned bicycles in cramped quarters, a 10-foot by 10-foot space, along side glass blowers, batik artists, sculptors and drum makers ? fellow trade-center tenants.

He expanded to a 10-foot by 20-foot space when business picked up. Things kept improving. Wholesalers took notice of his shop, and Woods became an authorized bicycle dealer. He moved into a 1,700-square-foot space in the rear of the center where he personally handles the repair work, sells eight lines of bicycles and dabbles in hockey trading cards. He offers three brands of mountain/road bikes, three brands of BMX bikes and a couple of custom bicycles.

His shop is gaining national recognition. It’s featured in the Cool Shops section of the February 2001 issue of Mountain Bike Magazine, mainly because of his marketing scheme, he said.

Now, Woods is giving back to the community he’s so high on. He buys junker bicycles for about $10 each and fixes them up. He’s donated a dozen refurbished bicycles to the homeless shelter and Hand Up Homes for Youth, a program for troubled youngsters. He plans to donate more. He’s also donated a helmet, tune-up and tires to a fund-raiser for Douglas Elementary School. And he is one of 10 sponsors of Peace Ride 2000, a 9,000-mile bicycle expedition from Boulder to Dushanbe, Tajikistan to raise money for orphans of Dushanbe, a sister city of Boulder. He provided new bicycles at dealer cost, assembled them at no charge, and supplied riders with spare parts and supplies.

He also offers the back-alley wall of his shop to graffiti artists. Once a prime tagging spot for gangs, it’s now a canvas for controlled art. He allows two artists at a time to paint the wall and leaves the work up for a couple of weeks. Then he allows the next artist to whitewash the wall and then do his or her thing.

One might say Woods is on a roll. “I’ve done this without a penny of help from anybody,” Woods said. And he assures that the only things green in his “stashbox” are dollar bills.Contact Doug Storum at (303) 440-4950 or dstorum@bcbr.com