Schipplings Moves to Braun

The Record has published two stories recently concerning the Schippling’s Bicycle Service store on Duke Street West. It has been closed for over a year after its owner, John Burhatsky, became ill and passed away at 92. This store is certainly a landmark in the area. My wife and I bought our son a bike there years ago and I still use my Norco saddlebags I bought from John. This recent article brings the good news that Braun bicycle has purchased the Schippling name and inventory. So some of the history will be preserved.

It is still not clear what will happen to the building. According to this earlier article, the area is now zoned residential (since 1994) so it can only be sold as a residence or a business with a bike shop. We already have Brauns and Ziggys in downtown Kitchener, so it is unlikely another bike shop will open there. The building is unsuitable as a residence in its present condition. From a neighbourhood perspective, it would seem to make most sense for another small business to open there with an opportunity for an apartment or two. This would need some kind of zoning variance and the earlier article discusses how getting any variance is problematic. 

It now seems likely that with the name and inventory sold, the building itself could be sold to a developer who could renovate or level it altogether and build apartments. 

I think this shows it is tricky to use zoning regulations to build a neighbourhood the way we want.  Without the regulations, a small business could have more easily continued in the building and the area could have kept a building with a lot of history and nice memories. On the other hand, it could have been bought by a business we did not like who might have erected a garish sign. It is difficult to enforce taste and restraint.

Whatever happens I hope the existing building can be preserved. Whenever I drive, walk or cycle past I think of John Burhatsky sitting in the store dispensing advice and fixing a flat tire or two.

Ted Parkinson

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