North St. Bags was founded in 2009 by Curtis Williams, in Portland, OR. The history of North St. Bags goes back further, however. Curtis, a Vermont native, took his first bike tour home to Montpelier along Route 7 from New York City using panniers. Sure, they got the job done, but Curtis wanted more. He wanted a bag that had better design and more functionality.
Head past the break for the full story.
In 2007, Curtis found himself working as a bicycle mechanic at a non-profit in Berkeley, CA. Waterside Workshops not only housed a bike shop, but also a woodworking studio, and a sewing facility. His first bag was developed and assembled here. It was a twist on the pannier design, but it converted into a backpack for off the bike use. This design was refined, and is now in production as the Woodward Convertible.
After moving to Portland, OR, Curtis purchased a Juki sewing machine off Craigslist and founded North St. Bags. Flash forward to May of 2015 and North St. Bags now has a retail location, employs 6 people besides Curtis, and makes use of 10 sewing machines to produce eight different bags and a menagerie of accessories.
The decision to expand to include a retail location came from the desire to allow people from all over the world to connect with where their bag was made, and with the people that made it. It may sound odd, but visitors to Portland would often hunt down Curtis in his previous workshop requesting to visit. With the new retail location found here, they can easily do just that.
We were very impressed when touring the North St. Bags small but extremely organized production area. Curtis and his team have their just in time inventory system down to a science. Every station is organized with labeled bins housing the pre-assembled parts for each product it is used for. With such a refined manufacture process, North St. Bags is able to produce small runs of products so shops don’t have to pre-buy thousands of dollars worth of inventory at the start of each season. They can simply order what they want, when they need it, and have it within seven to ten days on average. Not a bad way to do business.
Pay North St. Bags a visit online or in person and check out their full line of inventory from convertible bags, panniers, and accessories.