One of the things about VO that has, pleasantly, surprised me is our strong international sales. It's neat to see that our products have gained favor not only in those places that have long had a strong bike culture such as Britain, France, Japan, but also in places such as Finland, which I didn't know was so into cycling. Yet we have gotten many orders from Finland almost from the start. Here's a little about the history and mission of Pelago, a shop in Helsinki that sells VO products. It's written by Timo, one of the owners.
The root idea which eventually has led to work with bicycles must go back to late eighties and early nineties. Being involved with the underground, skateboarding, going to punk rock shows and getting brainwashed into the ecologism in the teenages must have lead into search for creative yet meaningful job in the adulthood.
Bicycling came along as a choice for moving around and making small trips, but then growingly as an object of intrest. When you can't find the bike you like, you end up fixing your own. After building a couple of them came the question what if we could make a living out of it.
At first we tried to rebuild and restore bikes from old and abandoned ones. There's a large recycling center in Helsinki where loads of these bike wrecks are piled up. You can also get parts there for cheap. Unfortunately most of it is crap and we learned the hard way that it was a laborsome job – especially when you try to meet your prefered aesthetic or function. The amount of hours put into rebuilding a bicycle wouldn't pay back in the price people are often ready to pay for a used bike. This lead into search for new frames, which lead us into designing our own frames which lead us into starting Pelago. (The name is short from archipelago which is a nice part of nature in our country).
Besides making the bikes, we run a shop and service in Helsinki which offers a variety of cycling goods for day-to-day errands and alternative travelling. Velo Orange has a nice selection of goods which we've been happy to offer for the needs of local cyclists. Although rooted in the Helsinki pavement, we still look at cycling from greater context. Sustainability is a common effort. It’s not just what you buy – it’s what you make. It’s about what you do at work. Bicycles is an obvious and easy choice for us, but in everything we do, we should think what meaning it has for the society.
Running the company for three years now has thought us a lot. Building one bike is relatively quick job compared to designing a bike for production. It's a process that consumes time and money. Two years ago it felt we had barely scratched the surface of what we'd like to be doing. That feeling hasn't gone anywhere. There is a lot to do, a lot learn, but we believe we have something to give which keeps up the spirits. After all, we embarked on the journey with long term intensions.
Can you recommend any good overseas, or domestic, shops that stock VO stuff?