By Dixon Bledsoe
Jason Franz was the boy who went into bike shops with $100 in his pocket and no one would help because he was a kid and didn’t look like a customer.
“I’d leave and go to a business that cared and wanted to see me come in,” Franz said. That, along with honesty and no pressure, is his business philosophy and a key reason his business, Fall Line, was chosen as the “Silverton 2008 Business of the Year.”
Franz’ shop specializes in bikes, skateboards, snowboards and repairs. A popular spot for area youth, Fall Line has made trailers and fit helmets for babies as well as providing a 93-year-old bike enthusiast with a tricycle. The shop at 302 Lewis St., Silverton, has the slogan, “Rider owned, rider friendly!”
In a time when some shop owners keep a leery eye on kids coming in to “hang,” Franz welcomes them.
“I want them to feel like this is a place they can always come, buying or not,” he said. “It is a safe, fun environment and particularly good for kids who aren’t into sports at school, or at least the traditional sports. They are always going to be welcome here.”
The 34 year-old Silverton resident has been in town for 13 years and opened his business almost six years ago. Franz’ wife, Joy, owns Gear-Up, Etc., a Silverton coffee shop located near Ace Hardware and Hi-School Pharmacy. The couple has a 7-year-old daughter, Jaiven.
Franz loves owning his own business and living in Silverton. “It is so central to everything we do – great trails, close to the snow and mountains. This is one great town – there is so much that goes on for a small town and so much that comes out of here. We have so many people doing great things and sharing their stories.”
Trina Riemersma of Havenhill Lavender Farm will present Franz with his award at the Silverton First Citizen Banquet. She was impressed with how much Franz has done for the town and for its young people, especially in a short period of time.
Franz serves on the Marion County Fair board, helped start a free skate park and bike track at the Oregon State Fairgrounds, started the free BMX bike practice track at Rogers Wayside Park near Silverton, helped start and build free mountain bike ride trails at Shellburg Falls near Silver Falls State Park and is an important hand in bringing the Silverton area a skate park (again free).
Assuming funding becomes a reality, the skate park is scheduled to be part of the complex at the corner of West Main and Westfield near the new Senior Citizens’ center.
When asked about his business and the significance of the award, Franz smiled.
“I love being my own boss and making things happen. Good or bad, it’s all me. And I am honored by the award. I was nominated previously and was bummed not to get it, but now is a perfect time because the projects I have undertaken are complete or nearing completion. The economy has been tough and we are down a little over the previous period because of it and the weather just before Christmas. But running a business is a lot like legalized gambling – you like it, so you take the chance.”