If you live in Whatcom County, you know the dirtbag life. You’ve smelled it, at least, standing too close to someone in line at the grocery store. It’s the skier refueling from a gnarly powder day at Baker, the biker caked in Galbraith mud or the van dweller preparing for a parking lot feast.
Meet Mike Randol, Callie Waldschmidt and their dog Dusty. Mike and Callie started as your typical dirtbags. Age: under 30. Occupation: local bike shop employees. Hobbies: biking, skiing, trying out (and falling in love with) van life, etc. Having already created a tee-shirt company, website and blog known as Mister Lost’s Dirtbag Society, however, it was not long before the couple found themselves seeking more.
After returning from a road trip (in a van, of course) and back to their bike shop day jobs, Callie recalls, “We both said, ‘We can’t do this anymore. We need to get on with the next phase of our lives.’ So I said, ‘Let’s quit our jobs!’ We didn’t have any savings or anything, so Mike said, ‘Eh, we should probably wait two years.’ But I said, ‘No we have to do it now.’”
So they did. The happy-go-lucky trio has since then turned their love of biking and inspiration from the Dirtbag Society into a business model for their current adventure: Mister Lost’s Mobile Bike Shop.
If you are a regular on Galbraith or a loyal Kulshan customer you know the ramped up U-haul I am about to describe. The one with the rough-cut cedar siding, hand painted logo and rambunctious dog. This bike shop offers everything any other shop does but has one crucial component that makes it different from all the rest. It’s on wheels.
You forget your helmet? Mister Lost will bring you one. You’re fixing your bike but don’t want to run around town trying to find the right part? They’ll get it to you. You need a tune up and don’t have time to haul your bike to the shop? “We’ll pick up the bike, repair it and deliver it for free,” Mike explains. “Or we can bring the entire bike shop to your front door. That’s just something nobody in town offers.”
Aside from the service aspect, customers can purchase parts and accessories from the shop online. “Repair is obviously super neat but, at the same time, there is the whole consumer aspect where selling things actually makes us more money, which kind of sucks,” Callie says. This side of the business was not exactly planned but the past eight months have proven to be a rather successful trial and error for Mister Lost’s Mobile Bike Shop.
The couple opened the business in August of 2016 with little to no money. Now, not even a year later, they have paid almost everything off. “Which is remarkable,” Callie beams.
The two are the only shop workers currently, so their separate roles are vital to keeping the business up and rolling. “Right now it’s kind of weird because I am doing electrical work at the same time. I am basically moving all the money I am making into the business,” Callie explains. Otherwise, “I am just kind of the silent, secret, behind the scenes worker that doesn’t work at the truck very often.”
Mike, on the other hand, spends all his time with the shop. He says, “I mainly work on bikes, sell things online, upload Instagram posts and Facebook posts, work on the website and train the dog.”
Both are certified mechanics, so they share that responsibility but both are also highly creatively driven. Every part of the business they did themselves, from the tee-shirts, stickers and logo design to the truck. “We could have hired people, which would have added to the whole sanity of things but we decided not to,” Callie explains.
The shop is still young but when asked about future plans, both Mike and Callie’s wheels were spinning. Mike speaks up over a barking Dusty, “It’s kind of crazy how we started. We did the whole thing to keep things super simple and small, super cheap with low overhead. But we are finding that we have so much business that we are running out of room to operate small and simple. The next step is inevitable, to at least have storage, but if we are paying for storage we can also double as a store front that is open several days.”
Callie adds, “Well I’ve been a skier my whole life. Mountain biking is kind of new for me. So a mobile ski shop would be awesome.”
Being able to live a dirtbag lifestyle and still make a living is a major accomplishment and a dream for many adventure seekers. Both agree that whatever the future brings it is important to stay true to their inspirations and why they started in the first place. Mike elaborates, “I mean, it started as the Dirtbag Society and we want it to be the main goal. A lot of people start businesses so they can buy a big fancy house and they can buy new cars.”
Callie agrees, “Our business mission is to inspire people to go have fun. Our personal mission is to be able to live in our van again.”
You can find Mister Lost’s Mobile Bike Shop Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Dollar lot on the south side of Galbraith, and on Saturday nights outside of Kulshan Brewing.
Check out the shop’s website for more information, appointment scheduling, gear, membership opportunities and inspiration.