Photography by Yuvie Styles.

There’s a Miyata road bike in the window at Preston Hollow Bicycles. It’s made of steel and clearly old; Miyatas aren’t even sold in the United States anymore. But when Jason Henry got it in college, he thought it was “cool.” It was inexpensive, but worked as a racing bike, and Henry rode it in his first competitions.

“When you become a cyclist, whether you compete or not, you spend a lot of time on your bike,” he says. “You get this relationship with the item, and I have a relationship with that bike. We spent time together. It sounds kind of strange, but it’s really why a lot of people get connected to their equipment.”

Henry has been riding bikes for decades, but he opened the bike shop just over three years ago. Bikes brought him to a career in the restaurant industry, which instilled a commitment to customer service. He started waiting tables to pick up extra cash to pay for races, usually in Texas and Louisiana. By the time he stopped racing competitively, he had progressed up the ranks and become a manager.

“It wasn’t necessarily something I was passionate about. It was just something I was good at,” he says. “I think I enjoyed the service aspect of it the most, and getting to know people and take care of people and making that connection.”

He spent 28 years in the industry, working for companies such as Flavor Hook, the group behind Neighborhood Services and Montlake Cut, and now-closed The Grape on Greenville Avenue. He, his wife Heather, and daughter Helena, accepted the working hours required of a restaurant manager and have lived in Preston Hollow seven years.

When Henry had the opportunity to open a business of his own, he knew he didn’t want it to be a restaurant. Heather had a background in coffee shops, but Jason didn’t. Having been in the neighborhood for a while, they considered what was missing. Heather suggested they open a bike shop.

“And I was like, ‘It’s funny you say that. I would have never thought of that, but I’m not saying ‘no’ to that,’” he says.

Figuring out the details took a few years. They landed on a spot on West Northwest Highway near Lemmon Avenue. It wasn’t their first choice, but with about 3,000 square feet, it was large enough to fit the inventory. Henry saw nearby Bachman Lake as an “untapped resource” and thought a bike shop would draw more cyclists to the area. It was also the last space to be leased at The Shops at Bluffview, so the landlord gave him a good deal.

Henry initially saw the unfinished space without a floor as a benefit, a way to customize the shop to his and his partners’ specific needs. Construction ended up being a chore, but they were happy with the result.

Another early challenge was filling up the shop with about 6,000 products in a weekend. While stocking the store, he was also taking inventory and learning a new point-of-sale system.

The pandemic made business boom for Preston Hollow Bicycles. Henry had been working part-time in restaurants to help support the shop financially and thought it would have to close permanently.

He was wrong.

Henry and his staff had to work seven days a week for more than a year to handle the influx of customers, whose determination to get a bike sometimes motivated them to purchase incorrect sizes.

“We’ll never see this feverish nature of, ‘I’ve got to have this’ in a short amount of time,” he says. “We’re still busy. The industry’s still busy, but it’s residual from just the madness of, everyone had to ride.”

The shop services and repairs almost every kind of bike, even ones it doesn’t sell. But to Henry, what distinguishes his business is customer service. He wants to provide a good experience for people who walk into the shop, but he has a loftier goal in mind, too: changing the nature of the industry. Henry didn’t understand why employees at bike stores never acted like they wanted to help him as a customer, why they didn’t seem to care. He thought he had to open the shop to spark change. Everyone working there helps and respects all customers, especially those new to cycling.

“That’s my favorite customer because I’m hoping that they’re going to get a charge out of cycling like I did,” he says. “And if I’m able to facilitate that, that’s job done.”

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