Loud music, big smiles, the sounds of banging and tinkering from behind the counter. Aaron Goeth is hunched over a bike, wrench in hand, cranking away at one of the wheels. His sister, a tiny redhead, hops down from the counter she is perched on and comes prancing up. "Hey! What can we do for ya?"
I do not remember how to ride a bike. Yeah, yeah, yeah I know, "It's like riding a bike; you never forget!" I hear it all the time. Ask any of my friends: they will respond to you with an endless slew of jokes about my inability to pedal on a bike. I'm as foreign to the contraption as a person could be. Yet I immediately felt at ease here in this place full of bikes. I was feeling (could it be?) almost at home in a shrine to the very vehicle I feared! What?!
Apparently, I am Windmill's ideal customer.
Him: We try and have a conversation instead of being like, "Here's your bike, get out!"
Her: We try to be intentional. We try to be different than any other bike shop. My ideal customer is a woman who just had a baby who wants to ride her bike to the grocery store and hasn't ridden a bike since she was eleven.
Him: We don’t really go for "bike rides;" we use it as a tool, as a commuter. Austin is a performance bike town, not a commuter bike town, and there are excellent shops all around for performance.
Her: So that is part of the under-serviced type of person we want to help. That is who we want to be.
Their desire to help first-time and timid riders comes from a very personal place. Sarah, as shorter, younger woman, always felt looked down upon when trying to find a bike.
Her: Aaron would say, "Go in other bike shops and see how they treat you: see if they treat you like you don’t know what you are talking about, see if they hit on you, see if they even talk to you."
Him: Even when she knew as much, if not much more, than they did, and would name two parts, sometimes people would still ask, “Are you sure that’s what you mean?”
Her: We want to help people who are short, people who have never ridden, women. We want to be un-intimidating. That's how the shop Aaron worked in before, Manifesto, was...
Windmill was born as a "bribe," according to Aaron. Their mother wanted them back home.
Her: He was working Manifesto out in Oakland. Could we call them a sister shop? Or more of a parent shop.
Him: They are still a parent shop for us!
Her: They are wonderful, and they give us a lot of advice. Anyway we were out there, but...
One day he called me and was like, "Mom wants me to open a bike shop in Austin, and...well, I need you to run it while I work on bikes."
Him: We starting talking about it and were like, "This could be fun!" I don't know if it is fun yet. It’s a lot of work. (He laughs).
Her: There are parts that are fun... talking to customers... But running a business is hard work: you can't separate any part of life from it.
The two almost finished each other's sentences. On the subject of separating parts of life, I asked about running a business with your sibling.
Him: We kind of cheat because we have gotten along better than any siblings I have ever known.
Her: We have lived together, been in bands together…but we have totally different skills sets, and our work doesn’t overlap.
Him: She's seven years younger than me, and I left home around 16, so we didn’t have a lot of exposure with each other before...
They bonded when he used to take her on camping excursions. She laughed and said that he would just tell their mom, "We are leaving!"
Him: You only almost died like 5 times. Remember when you fell in the river?
The two laugh and reminisce some more about their childhood. They grew up spending time on their great-grandparents homestead in Bexar County. The house was built in 1927, but it was made from old wood from another property built in 1880.
Him: And then I rebuilt it again... and again… and again… I go to nail in the boards and they are rock hard because they are so old.
A windmill on the hill of the property, "Gramp's Windmill" as they call it, inspired the name...and the ideals of the shop.
Her: We wanted it to be an image of home. It was one of the singular images we knew best. It’s not related to bikes, so we were pretty set on it not just being a bike shop, but being a place for people to hold events, sell jewelry, bags, etc. But it is a bike shop at its core. That’s what Aaron knows best, and I know Microsoft excel.
And that is how ESPEROS ended up as one of the items in the store that doesn't have wheels. Sitting proudly next to other home-y items, the bags blend in well with the atmosphere of the store: Austin-based, Austin-bred.
Her: We wanted the shop to be “Texan.” We are 7th generation Texans: our family fought in the Alamo
Him: Those windows on the wall are from a second remodel of the house in the 30’s, when they put in decent windows.
Her: We have horseshoes and these windows from the house, and we have chandelier to put up eventually. Aaron still drives Gramp's truck, you’ve probably seen it around: it has a big Texas flag on the side.
Him: There's this super famous BMX rider in town who blogged it, and it got like 50,000 views.
Her: Not the first vehicle we have painted the Texas flag on…we did it on my bus!
Him: The star was the hardest part. We were sitting on top of a Walmart parking lot painting a Texas flag on the top.
Her: We had protractors and calculators, putting my math degree to use. (She laughs.)
When I asked if they had a favorite bike in the store, they lit up. The are passionate about each brand, each bike.
Her: Once we finally found brands that could fit me as a rider, that’s who we would carry.
Him: Obviously we are choosing things on aesthetics and looks and bikes for commuting, but it is also based on relationships (with the vendors).
Her: I don’t really have a favotire bike because so much of what we do is customization, no bike we sell is the same.
Him: We have people call and say, "How did you do that to that bike?"
Brittany, who works in Windmill, said that watching people choose was her favorite part. "It's always such a reflection of their personality," she said.
Are you looking for a new ride? Or do you just want to know more about Windmill? Check them out at their website for more information, pricing, and rentals. Follow them on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for updates and more fun photos of their team and their rides.