East Side Re-Rides is a woman-owned shop selling consignment secondhand motorcycle apparel, leathers, and boots. We’re a small storefront off of bustling Main St in Vancouver, and we serve motorcyclists, bikers, and scooteristas from all walks of life. We’re the only consignment business in British Columbia dedicated to just biker gear, and have been around since 2008.
Why exactly are we awesome? Leather is the skin of a once-living animal. To see used leathers go to a new owner feels right, not simply “green”. We should never throw good gear away. Protective gear, whether leather or textile, is carefully engineered and expensive. Buying secondhand can make high-quality equipment accessible to everyone.
All kinds of riders shop peacefully here, even those traditionally in teasing opposition to each other (cough choppers vs rockets cough) — but our customers also run to groups like hipsters, queerfolk, kinksters, punks & cosplayers. In this store, we have everything in common.
East Side Re-Rides was established in 2008, in a tiny strip mall on Victoria Drive at 54th Avenue in Vancouver. Early on, we fit easily into a 700 sq ft space, and didn’t mind that we were a little off the beaten path.
Taken over by Elaine Miller in 2011, who established a solid web presence and extended the hours, the business quickly grew. Soon Elaine had to hire help to cope with all the in-rush of new consignment, and the out-rush of gear upon delighted shoppers. We acquired more racks and shelves. The racks and shelves — and aisles full of people — grew crowded to bursting, and the search was on for our new location!
16th & Main St Location
We shifted the whole business to our current location over Christmas 2015, and opened here in January 2016! It was a remarkable undertaking: renovating, fixturing, packing and shifting the whole godzillion pounds of leather (and textile) gear over. If not for a small army of volunteers, I think we’d still be at it.
Yay! A bigger space! Room to really stretch out!
The new shop is right around the corner from the beaten path, and so we have been discovered by scads of cool new people, who told two friends, and so on, and we’ve had to hire yet more folks to help, and find more racks to fit the flow of items, and, well… it’s crowded again. But we love it. There’s always new things to discover!
And then in 2020… Covid19
East Side Re-Rides, while open year-round, is a seasonal kind of business, doing most of our sales in the warm motorcycle-friendly months. The pandemic hit just as we were coming out of a long slow winter, and at the exact time when we would have been our busiest with incoming consignment and outgoing riding apparel sales, we were forced to close our doors along with all other non-essential businesses. I had to lay off my employees, and the future looked grim.
Our customer base was still out there, especially as motorcycling is the ultimate social distancing activity, but with the store closed we had no way of reaching them. I knew I had to change the way we did business.
The only solution that did not involve giving up and going into bankruptcy was to move my business online, and start allowing folks to purchase secondhand leathers straight from our website. I knew shipping things to customers would be the new best way to get our items into their hands.
While we had always had a website, the sheer complexity of our every-item-is-unique consignment shop, coupled with the rate at which things flowed through the business, had made it impossible to allow online shopping — until now.
I went home, did some research, fired up the computer and spent 10 days at 14 hours a day creating an online store for my business. I set everything up, tested it, and got some feedback from friends who were also trapped working from home. Then came the task of populating it with the thousands of one-of-a-kind items that we have in the store. Because we use a database to track consignment, and because for years we’d taken a mugshot of every item on consignment, this task was doable, if herculean.
I invested in masks, hand sanitizer, a folding table for outside the store, and made some shipping options in the webshop. We were willing to ship Canada Post, to hand-deliver to folks within 10km, and to allow safe pickup at curbside. Then I hired back some of my staff, and we were back in business.
While coding and populating the webshop, I had also been busy online promising the public that the online store was going to open on a particular day, and that deadline really kept me on my toes, I mean fingertips. I asked current consignors to tell all their people about us, and I filled our store window with signs saying “shop online” to catch regular customers wandering by. This messaging helped, because we immediately started getting orders, not only locally, but for the first time ever, we were selling –and shipping– to folks all over Canada and in the USA. A group of designer Fluevog shoe lovers in Ontario told each other about us, and suddenly all our Fluevogs were swooping out the door in securely taped-up boxes. It was a new beginning that kept us afloat until we could cautiously re-open at the start of June 2020. And now we run both models – you may come to us and shop for gear in-store, or use the webstore and our leathers will come to you.
We’re the only motorcycle apparel consignment business in this area of the world, and every day we see riders go by wearing gear that we recognise. We truly appreciate everyone who spends some time — or some money — with us! We’re a small shop in the middle of a big city, and Covid19 made for a very very hard year — but with help (shopping) and assistance (consigning) from our community, we’re making it through!
Let’s see what the next few years hold for us all. 🙂
EAST SIDE RE-RIDES Consignment Leather & Motorcycle Gear
221 East 16th Ave Vancouver, BC, Canada V5T 2T5
About the owner:
Elaine Miller is a born Vancouverite who used to be a columnist / webhost / IT nerd for work, and a leather collector as a hobby, and abruptly switched those to be the owner of East Side Re-Rides. She is deeply invested in community-building, creating safe spaces for folks to be themselves, and in perching atop a hoard of gorgeous vintage leather like a dragon on piles of gold coins. Not literally. She just got carried away for a minute there.