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If You Need To Buy A Bicycle, A Book Or A Hatchet, This Is the Place

Rivendell Bike, Book & Hatchet has opened a downtown store with an eclectic mix of items for sale

Grant Petersen, owner of Rivendell Bike, Book & Hatchet in Walnut Creek
Grant Petersen, owner of Rivendell Bike, Book & Hatchet in Walnut Creek
When you walk into Rivendell Bike, Book & Hatchet in downtown Walnut Creek, one word comes to mind.

Different.

The primary product at the shop at 1601 N. Main Street across from City Hall are the lugged steel bicycles.

However, the store also has about 50 books on display from nature to fiction, including The Hobbitt, Charlotte's Web and Ferdinand The Bull.

On a back wall, there are also two dozen hatchets ranging in size and price.

Around the shop there is also a line of clothing, some wood ties, an old manual typewriter, a rotary phone employees use and an old record player that spins LPs as customers browse.

Grant Petersen, the owner of Rivendell, said the variety of items aren't tied together. He's not trying to sell a package of goods to a bicyclist who likes to chop wood for a fire and then sit down and read.

"We go on the theory that people who ride bikes have a life outside of bicycles," said Petersen.

The downtown store opened in October. It's a mile down the road from Rivendell's main warehouse.

Petersen started his business in his Walnut Creek garage in 1994. He'd worked the 10 years prior in the U.S. offices of Bridgestone Cycle, Japan's largest bike maker.

When the dollar-to-yen exchange rate plummeted in 1994, the U.S. offices of Bridgestone closed. Petersen used $89,000 of retirement money, savings, loans and stock sold to friends to start Rivendell.

He ran it out of his home for two years, then opened the warehouse on North Main Street.

In 1997, Petersen added a small collection of books. About eight years ago, he added the hatchets.

Petersen is up front about his business. On his website, he tells readers his store breaks even most years on about $2.8 million in sales.

Last fall, Petersen decided Rivendell needed more room and a downtown presence.

He opened the store near City Hall and stocked it with some of the merchandise that's also sold at the warehouse.

Bicycles remain Rivendell's main source of income. The two stores sell more than 500 bicycles a year.

Almost all of them have lugged steel frames. They range from a lightweight road bike to a "tough as nails" trail bike.

The prices are higher than most neighborhood stores. The bikes start at $2,400, but Petersen says you're paying for quality and durability.

"Anything you buy can be built with compromise or without compromise," said Petersen. "Our bikes are built without compromise."

The store also sells their own line of clothing called MUSA (for Made In The USA). Rivendell folks design the gear and hire a firm to manufacture it.

The line ranges from a $430 English rain jacket to a $105 tweed sweater to an $82 Chambray shirt.

Again, Petersen says quality matters.

"We find that bicycle riders tend to be particular with things they buy," he said.

And then there's the hatchets.

They sit on a back wall and are the fascination of a lot of customers who come in to browse.

They range from small blades that cost $47 to larger ones that cost $115.

All this is mixed in with the other accessories and bicycle equipment that is scattered around the store.

Again, something different and something for just about everybody.

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