Business & Real Estate

Add two nicknames, a few bikes, a lot of sweat and a new business is born

Shasta Smith sits outside her office at The Vintage Monkey, a motorcycle service, repair, retail store at 400 N. 16th St., in Sacramento. Smith, a longtime motorcycle enthusiast with 15 years as a professional interior designer, has crafted many of the bike-themed fixtures inside her 6,500-square-foot business.
Shasta Smith sits outside her office at The Vintage Monkey, a motorcycle service, repair, retail store at 400 N. 16th St., in Sacramento. Smith, a longtime motorcycle enthusiast with 15 years as a professional interior designer, has crafted many of the bike-themed fixtures inside her 6,500-square-foot business. mglover@sacbee.com

Shasta Smith is living her dream, creating a motorcycle service, repair, retail store and cafe along Sacramento’s busy North 16th Street corridor.

For weeks, the 39-year-old Sacramento businesswoman has been working day and night on the interior of The Vintage Monkey at 400 N. 16th St. The motorcycle service, repair and parts wing of the 6,500-square-foot brick building, a former warehouse, opened Nov. 1.

Now, Smith and Service Manager Denis Jiron are working long hours filling out the rest of the building, including an area that will display up to 25 unrestored vintage and antique motorcycles, a retail shop selling branded apparel and other motorcycle-related gear and a circular bar where motorcycle devotees can gather to talk two-wheel transportation and swap stories of the open road.

“I’ve been dreaming about this for a long time,” Smith said during a recent, rare break from work at the leased building. “With our Vintage Monkey brand, I wanted to do this in the Year of the Monkey and before I turned 40. … It has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but now it’s here.

“You love it when people say they’re proud of you … but it feels even better when you feel proud of yourself.”

Smith, born in San Francisco but a Sacramento resident since she was 8 years old, took a circuitous route to get to where she is now.

Wrenching motorcycles has long been in her blood – she bought her first new bike when she was 19 and has acquired motorcycles of various stripes over the years – but just a couple of years ago The Vintage Monkey was a not-open-to-the-public interior design/fabrication studio in another part of Sacramento.

To be sure, however, motorcycles were part of the enterprise.

Smith collected motorcycles and rode a street-legal 1972 Honda racing bike to work. And vintage motorcycle shapes and parts were part of her design creations.

Her hands-on work routinely turned scrap metal into architectural works of art. Motorcycle gears, antique tractor wheels, steel mesh and other discarded items turned into decorative pieces sought by buyers looking for unique fixtures.

Smith’s design/fabrication work drew a national following and attention in some markets abroad. Her design work was featured on HGTV’s “House Crashers” show, and she starred in her own show, “Red Hot Design,” on the FYI digital cable and satellite channel.

Still, even with all that and 15 years invested as a full-time interior designer, the motorcycle shop/gathering place dream never left her mind, and she ramped up plans in earnest this year.

“I just said, ‘I’m going to do this,’ ” she recalled.

Smith said the recently opened Vintage Monkey service/repair/parts shop will take any motorcycle out there. Paint and welding are done off-site.

Most of her energy is now concentrated on filling up the majority of interior space, which will include some of her own hardcore design handiwork.

She’s already reworked an old, large chandelier in all-white and fastened scores of sharp metal spikes onto the bottom of the fixture.

Underneath the chandelier, she’s laid the foundation for a round cafe/bar, 24 feet in circumference. Smith’s planned styling touches for that include plenty of brass bullet shells and black leather.

The display area will include elevated racks holding bikes in place against a brick wall. Ultimately, she hopes customers and visitors might like to display their own special motorcycles in that area.

The overall goal, she said, is to “be creative and create a destination” where motorcycle enthusiasts can feel right at home.

Smith said she wants to turn The Vintage Monkey into a showplace, with a brightly lit storefront facing the 16th Street traffic and large glass doors replacing the current, windowless roll-ups on the side, with a goal of creating a visually appealing view of the interior.

She hopes to have most of the interior fixtures in place in early December.

So, what’s with the name, Vintage Monkey? It goes back to an old friend calling Smith “monkey,” and she in turn called the older friend “vintage.” She liked the combination of names. From such stuff, dreams are made.

Mark Glover: 916-321-1184, @markhglover

At a glance

Hours: The Vintage Monkey is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

Information: thevintagemonkey.com or 916-668-7114

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