During a bike trip from the West to the East Coast, Dave Stoops discovered he was spending way too much time searching through his bags to find whatever he needed.
He had four waterproof “fabric buckets” stuffed with everything he needed for his three-month journey.
“I found myself digging and digging in the bags to find a snack or a tool,” he said. “I spent hours and hours packing and unpacking to find something.”
Describing himself as a resourceful, can-do-it kind of guy, Stoops recalls walking home from a tavern one evening with friends in Portland when they discovered a sewing machine in a free box. He brought it home and received a few lessons on how to operate it from a friend. His quest to create the ultimate bike backpack began with first creating small, colored pouches to organize items. Whatever he made the first few years, he gave away to friends or at bike events, including his backpack bags with both interior and exterior pockets.
“When I need something, I first think if I could make it or if I could make it better,” he said. After working out each detail, in 2006, Stoops founded Black Star Bags in Portland.
“When I first started, it took me a couple weeks to create a bag,” he said. “Now, I have four employees and we can create several bags a day.”
He takes great pride that his bags are made in Portland and that he provides living wage jobs to his employees. A new father, he has plans for how he wants to expand his company as well as continue the company’s involvement in bike related events.
Laughing that he is on the third or fourth generation of the first bag he designed, he said he is constantly asking how he can make a better bag. He appreciates customer feedback.
Being a part of Portland’s bicycle community, Stoops also understands what a bicyclist wants and needs in a product, thus making it important to him to create and design a quality bag that lasts for several years.
Stoops invites bike enthusiasts to visit his retail shop, 2033 SE Hawthorne Blvd., to get a behind the scenes look at how the handmade, waterproof bags are created as well as seeing what’s available.
“People have said going to our shop is an awesome experience because they can tell how much time and thought and design goes into a bag,” he said.