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Columbia Pike bids farewell to Papillon Cycles after nearly 50 years in Arlington

Papillon Cycles owner Bailey Garfield (right) and store manager of 14 years John Harpold (staff photo by James Jarvis)

After a nearly 50-year ride, Papillon Cycles on Columbia Pike shuttered on Tuesday.

The bike shop, founded by Ted Decapiteau in 1976 and later acquired by Bailey Garfield in 1989, shared a heartfelt goodbye on its Facebook page yesterday.

April fool’s 1976-Halloween 2023. It’s been a long strange trip, and Awesome! Thanks Customers Friends Family, STAFF! Owners, BAILEY! and long ago TED! But honestly ALL of you crazy riders. We are closed officially tonight. LOVE PEACE PEDALS!

Although his retirement was already on the horizon, Garfield, 70, shared with ARLnow he had hoped to hand over the reins to a new owner. However, the business had become increasingly unprofitable post-pandemic due to a combination of factors, including a lack of foot traffic, supply chain issues and the soaring rent costs.

“The bicycle industry, in general, is not good right now. Every week some of our major suppliers are showing signs they’re in economic distress… It’s a perfect storm,” he told ARLnow, adding that he knows several other small business owners on the same block who are also still struggling.

The building at 2801 Columbia Pike — housing Papillon and other neighboring retailers on the block — may be razed for a mixed-use development, according to filings with Arlington County.

The Christopher Companies proposes building an 88-unit, 7-story building with 5,800 square feet of retail space, UrbanTurf first reported in 2022.

Rendering of proposed 7-story mixed development at 2801 Columbia Pike (via Arlington County)

Garfield said he is in the dark about the project but observed that Alexandria-based Seaport Properties hasn’t renewed long-term leases for several building tenants, including Papillon.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen. Eventually, they’re gonna put in a 6- to 8-story mixed-use building here and we’re seeing what they’re doing all up and down the Pike. I don’t see how this is going to be any different,” Garfield said.

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