Mr. Stay Tuned
The Stay Tuned Story
This is the story of a store owned and operated by a cyclist. Ritabrata Patra, fondly called by many different names by his fellow cyclist friends, started Stay Tuned at the ripe age of twenty-three in 2019.
This young entrepreneur, while still in college at the Institute of Hotel Management in 2015, used to bike along with his friends. Him and his friends would race on rough and rocky terrains on the regular and what he happened to notice at the time was a serious lack of servicing stations for cycles. Mountain biking is evidently a rough sport which leads to dismembered parts and other dysfunctionalities that need regular and proper servicing and repair, the lack of which caused him and a few others to learn the art of fixing their own bikes. You see, wonky machines do not make for good friends but fixing these wabbly little things soon becomes an obsession – the good kind that leads to good things. Tweaking bikes in-turn tweaked his brain as he began to volunteer at local bike servicing stations wherever he went to race. Repairing bikes while he went to race at these various destinations provided him with the hands-on experience that he needed to start this store of his. He developed his skill of working on the method, precision and expertise of fixing bikes over the next three years while also racing at the same time. He would, in his spare time, repair his friends’ bikes and soon after was offered the prestigious position of working with and training under Shimano India in 2017.
For this young man things were going seemingly well until he encountered a career-threatening injury to his knee at the National Games in Pune. This put a staggering halt to his ability to do his favourite thing – riding around town on his precious bike. But what is a self-made man without a career-jeopardizing incident and what is a backstory without an emphasis on resilience. Thus began his struggle when he had to work at a corporate setup in 2018 while he was still in college. Corporate systems are demanding and rigorous which often do not allow people to follow their passions and not letting this man ride is like taking away a songbird’s ability to sing. Naturally, he hated being pinned down like that and soon after quit his job. In the resulting months, the idea behind the store was developed and finally in February of 2019, ‘Stay Tuned’ was formed. It began as a service-only store with him at the helm and some of his cycling mates learning the craft under his supervision. When you ask him, why the name, he cheerily tells you, “You know, you need to tune machines, so, from that came Stay Tuned!”
What started as a workshop progressed to an imported bike selling store alongside, a feat that no other store in Kolkata had achieved. Being a store that is run by cyclists gives it an edge over other stores – the authenticity, interest and care with which they work on bikes comes from a genuine love for bikes and the sport. Work was continuing smoothly for them until the pandemic hit a year later in March and they had to shut down completely. Following the lifting of the first lockdown, the store opened up keeping Covid-19 safety protocols in place. During this time, Kolkata encountered a bike boom, which the store catered to but faced issues keeping up with the demand because of the shortages of such bikes due to restrictions placed on international shipping. Irrespective of these difficulties, the store kept its workshop open for cyclists and grew in popularity over the next few months. Needless to say, Ritabrata has a lot planned for his little venture – something that Kolkata’s cycling enthusiasts should stay tuned for.
Words by Oishani Banerjee.