Custom service

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Looking for a bag to match a bike? Maybe you'd like a hat that matches a bag? Or perhaps you'd like to re-paint the bike frame so all three clash?

At Seagull Bags and Octopus Caps, customers get custom treatment.

Separate messenger bag, riding cap and frame-painting ventures have joined forces behind one counter in the Clintonville space, a one-stop shop for outfitting bike messengers and cycling commuters.

Up front in the wide-open workroom, you'll find a limited number of ready-made bags, hats and tees. Or, shoppers can step up to the counter and order a completely custom design.

Those in need of a bag on the spot can choose from the favorite standard size, an oversized version and a variety of hip-bags in all sizes and colors. Fitted caps in bright patterns and dark plaids hang on a mini clothesline, and screenprinted T-shirts emblazoned with an angled Ohio outline are joined by tees from cycling races.

Customers can select the colors for their custom bags from a stack of Ohio-shaped swatches - the company's signature sew-on - and from there they can make every creative decision, from choosing an all-over embroidered design down to picking the thread color.

The retail space takes up the front corner of the shop, while the rest of the room is filled with fabric bolts and staffers bent over sewing machines. A blaring mix of upbeat tunes fills the air, while giant decals featuring flying seagulls, writhing octopus arms and colorful bike gears cover the walls and windows.

Since he first set about constructing a durable, comfortable and functional bike messenger bag six years ago, Seagull Bags owner Daniel McKewen ran his operation from several basements and backrooms before moving into the Clintonville storefront, which opened in July.

He's added three staff members since this summer, and the group has been making bags at a pace of 50 a week as they process holiday orders.

Likewise, the owners of Octopus Caps are thrilled with their new back-room space and visibility upgrade.

Starting sometime in December, "custom" will come full circle at the shop when Delicious Mixtures joins the fray, offering custom bike-frame painting services. It will operate out of a newly ventilated and equipped space in the store's basement.

"You'd come in and pick the color frame and if you want decals... or fades or sparkles or whatever," said McKewen, who owns the new business with a Seagull Bags staffer. "It should be pretty cool."

Seagull Bags and Octopus Caps

3343 N. High St., Clintonville