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delivering your shit, one bike ride at a time.

October 27, 2014

Spoked Couriers 2

The dudes behind Spoked Couriers chat about life (and work) on a bike. 

Seven days a week, rain or shine, Chris Vela and Matt Hartman (the brains behind Spoked Couriers) spend their time delivering everything from breakfast burritos to flowers. And they do it all on a bike. With a list of rad clients in the STL area, these guys are offering a greener way to order dinner (or flowers, or diapers, or anything really). The idea that if they can strap it to their backs or bike racks, they can deliver it, leaves the options pretty open. You guys know what this means? BREAKFAST DELIVERY IS A THING IN ST. LOUIS.

Spoked Couriers 6

How did Spoked Couriers come to be?

Chris: There was only one other company doing bicycle delivery – that was Griffin Delivery at the time – and it was kind of like a startup that the owner sold. It became a different company called Bike Waiter. I think all the riders didn’t really jive with the idea of an out-of-state owner, especially an out of state owner that didn’t really ride or have an interest in personal interaction with the riders or the businesses. There was a lot of ribble-rabble about what to do about it. Matt was like “why don’t we just do it ourselves?” That’s where the ball started rolling.

What’s your favorite part about Spoked Couriers?

Matt: Making your living on a bicycle. Being your own boss, working when you want to, and making your own schedule. Personally, I would say my favorite part is working with local businesses, local restaurants, local start ups, and being part of the community.

Chris: Taking anything, whether it be food or dry packages, whatever it is, to people when the weather is complete crap. I love it when people are like “Man, you rule. I did not want to leave the house, because its stormy or hailing or snowing.” And every time that happens, it seems to be like a challenge for us.

What are some of your favorite partnerships?

Chris: Melt gives us free coffee. And they are just super rad anyway. Handlebar is pretty rad because we are all friends with them.

Matt: Wei Hong is the busiest.

Chris: They are all great. I don’t think we’d want to work with anyone that we just didn’t get along with.

Matt: We dialogue a lot about working with people who have a great product, who we like. All our partners are a good representation of that.

You obviously both biked before Spoked Couriers, but why did you decide to become a courier?

Chris: I thought we could do it better than anyone else. I delivered pizzas when I was 17, and I enjoyed that. I pretty much took that, took all the negatives out of it, and it’s worked out so far.

Matt: I like it because you don’t have a place you have to go to clock in and sit in a room for eight hours, you are outside, moving around, having fun, seeing shit.

What’s the most challenging thing about Spoked Couriers?  

Chris: The weather. And getting to people who are not familiar with bicycle delivery. Getting people used to the fact that we can do it. It’s hard to get people on board with bike delivery – it’s better, more green, just a better service and definitely more personal.

Matt: I think the other piece of that is that people don’t want to order in when it’s shitty out. People feel really bad because you’re out riding in the bad weather to deliver them things.

Chris: The best and worst part about it is the weather. It changes fast, but when you know what it is, you can dress for it.

What is the best thing you’ve ever delivered?

Chris: On Valentines Day we all got to take flowers and chocolates to peoples sweethearts. That was probably one of the most fun days. It was fulfilling too.

Whats the hardest thing you’ve ever had to deliver?

Chris: Probably Deweys Pizza – 12 extra larges with a salad on top. Made it from Clayton to University City and it all got there.

Matt: A large catering order from Fozzies. I had to go to Half and Half and pick up another catering order mid Fozzies delivery. That was a lot of food.

What do you deliver most?

Chris: Food.

What do you wish people knew you could deliver?

Chris: Beer. Legally. We can totally legally deliver booze.

Matt: You just have to order it through one of our clients. It’s not like we can go get you a bottle from the liquor store. But you can order from Handlebar, Fortune Teller, Sashas and Yakis. You call ’em up and place an order and we will deliver it.

Who would you love to deliver for?

Chris: I’m going to have to fall back on what I love to eat in St. Louis, John Donut and Blues City Deli. Any and every locally owned and operated small restaurant bar in our South City zone would be great too.

Matt: I’d like to get more into the packages and parcels, the traditional bike courier stuff.

Who are some people in other cities doing this that you guys think are pretty rad?

Chris: TCB, our friendly San Fransisco based courier friends. TCB just celebrated their 5th year of doing this.

Matt: When we started out, we reached out to TCB because they knew what they were doing and asked for help. They’ve been doing it for years and years and are really successful. They coached us through the whole thing, and basically got us going.

What’s the Spoked Couriers motto?

Chris: We don’t have one. It’s one of those things that if you asked us when we first started, we would’ve tried to come up with something clever. Looking back, we’ve never had anything that we’ve repeated. Anything we have to say that would be a slogan, we just draw little pictures like children. Like the logo. That’s our slogan right there. A cow (midwest), brass knuckles (grimy St. Louis), a lightning bolt (fast), 3 rivers (the 3 rivers).

Spoked Couriers 1

Spoked Couriers 4

Spoked Couriers 5

Spoked Couriers 3

[All photos by Adrian O. Walker.]

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