Tours, Trails & Group Rides

The Demise of Trophy University City

So I took a trip into Philadelphia to give Trophy Bikes, the Philadelphia Brompton purveyor, another try. I haven’t had much luck dealing with this shop, but hope springs eternal, I guess. The shop I knew was in University City, just three easy blocks from 30th Street Station. When I got there, though, there was no shop.

The building is empty. It must have been an abrupt departure, and perhaps an unhappy one.  There was no information on the storefront regarding the closure, and a local business owner told me that the landlord had torn down whatever Trophy had put up to inform customers of the change.

Unfortunately, Trophy hadn’t bothered to post the closure on their website.  I’d gone to the website that very morning to get directions from the train station.  Hours, directions, the address, everything was right there on the website when I checked it, with no indication whatever that the shop no longer exists.  That was really annoying.

I got directions to a second Trophy location, which involved taking the subway.  I’d been on the Philadelphia subway only once before, years ago, and it had been a rather unpleasant experience.  I was game to try again, although the shop owner who gave me directions warned about the neighborhood near Trophy, telling me it wasn’t safe to ride in. I’m a smallish woman; this may have figured into his reckoning.

A friendly guy at the travelers’ information kiosk in the 30th Street Amtrak Station told me how to get to the 30th street subway station, and which line to take. The station was a lot cleaner than I remembered.  It was also pretty empty.

Unlike most SEPTA signage, the subway signs indicated cardinal directions, which make it easy to figure out if the train is going in the direction you want to travel. That’s very helpful if you don’t know intersections or terminal points.

The car I entered was about one-third full of riders.  The seats were clean, and there was plenty of room for Basil.  LEDs showed each stop, also a great rider service.

Getting to Trophy Bikes “North” required descending an infelicitous stairway into an underpass, and cycling several blocks.  Oh, and it’s on a one-way street. (Just FYI, in case you need to know.)

Then I discovered that they opened four hours later than the University City location, another annoying surprise. I was early, since I’d expected to be into, and gone from, the University City location long before now.

When the store finally opened, a friendly guy adjusted my brake in about two seconds flat, and refused to charge me for it.  That was only the second more-or-less positive interaction I’ve had in five Trophy-related interactions.

However, my positive reaction was somewhat tempered because when I asked if a Brompton mechanic was in, I’d gotten a rather hesitant response.  Brake adjustment, I was told, they could do. Otherwise, the staff would “learn as we go” as far as other Brompton repairs.

Well.  Not on my Brompton, they won’t.  I’m guessing whoever worked on Brompton repair has gone the way of the University City location.  Or the employee just didn’t know what he was talking about.  Either way, bad news.

I headed back to the subway stop.  I’m used to New York City’s MTA.  In general, empty platforms aren’t typical. This one wasn’t totally empty, but close. At least there was a bridge.  (This stop, Spring Garden, is above ground, obviously.)

And this view of Philadelphia was fantastic:

Also, there was a helpful attendant, ensconced  in what looked like a bullet-proof cubby. He was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get Basil through the gate.  It was a good thing he was there for other reasons, though, because my Independence Pass, theoretically with a magnetic strip (?), couldn’t be read by the gate mechanism.

The noise level was deafening, as the stop is between 95 and Spring Garden boulevard.

When I got off the train at the 30th street subway station, in the early afternoon, there was only one other person on the platform.  He was a bit distant from where I was, facing the other direction, between me and the even-farther-away elevator.  He was stumbling, and making some kind of noise.  I went for the stairs at my end of the station, a good walk in the other direction.

Altogether, not the most satisfactory of days.  Then, when I got home, I saw this:

Having just gone through what was altogether — both coming and going — a rather creepy subway experience, it was a little weird to see this.  The attack occurred on a nearby line, at roughly the same time (3:22 in the afternoon, according to the surveillance tape), just three days earlier.  Note the deserted platform, although this, too, was the middle of the day.  The Philadelphia Inquirer, in this article, noted that

The Broad-Ridge Spur, which runs from Fairmount and Broad to 8th and Market streets, is SEPTA’s least-used subway line, with about 8,000 riders a day, and its three stations are often lonely places.

I rode the Market-Frankford line, and got off (and back on) at a stop quite geographically close to the one where this attack occurred.  My experience on this day leads me to conclude that there is more than one mentally ill person hanging around Philadelphia subway stations, since this one appears to have been arrested.  Also that deserted Philadelphia subway stations, in some cases, are the rule, not an exception.

All in all, I don’t think I’ll be going back to Trophy, or giving them a sixth chance. There’s not much of a carrot, and though the sticks are theoretically only potential, none of this is anything I need. Or want.