Owner of Solomon's, Arshad Dockrat welcomes us to his Pretoria North branch with an inviting smile and immediately offers us coffee, which arrives in the blink of an eye immaculately presented on an antique silver tray.
On enquiring about his family's history, Mr Dockrat took us back 128 years to when his great grandfather, Mr Suleiman arrived in South Africa from India in 1890.
Starting out as a street hawker in the 1890s, a young and determined Mr Suleiman was able to save and buy property in the early 1900s close to Pretoria North train station, the main artery linking Pretoria with Zimbabwe. The property housed a candle factory and alongside, a trading store that would ultimately grow into what we know today as Solomon's. The trading store was run by his eldest daughter and her husband.
In 1915 his daughter passed away which saw her husband travel back to India. With no one to run the store, Mr Dockrat's grandfather was taken out of school at 13 years old to operate the trading store (which was located opposite the current Solomon's Lifestyle shop on the corner of Church and President). The teenager developed a knack for buying and selling and was able to grow the business. He and his wife had 11 children of which Mr Dockrat's father was the youngest.
The Suleimans were one of only two Indian families to retain the right to own property and trade during the Group Areas Act, successfully overturning four court rulings on technicalities. An interesting story is that the word Solomon was as Mr Dockrat explained what the Afrikaaners called his great grandfather ... "the name has stuck", Mr Dockrats says with a smile!
Mr Dockrat proudly introduces us to his lanky 14 year old son Yusuf, the next generation who is eagerly learning the ropes of the family business.
"It's older than me!!!"
~ Yusuf Dockrat unearthing an ancient carbon TREK Y-Frame.
Critical to any modern bike shop, Solomon's has a busy workshop where Matome Matjana, Joe Tshabala, Sam Mashapa and Lucas Maluleka ensure bikes leave in tip-top shape.
"Mevrou Lombard is an institution at Solomon's"
~ A colleague describes Betty Lombard who works in the Lifestye department of Solomon's.
"We call this rack the graveyard ... where 26" rims go to die"
~ Mr Dockrat jokes about the decline in 26" wheels.
Our tour of Solomon's unveiled a labyrinth of storerooms packed with exotic things like touch-up paint and many racks and boxes filled with hundreds and hundreds of parts .. from discontinued Campag STI parts to old school 'top-tube' hand pumps, you can bet your bottom dollar that Solomon's has it!
Priced right and good quality, CycloPlus tubes are Solomon's best sellers.
Thanks Solomon's for the coffee and trip down memory lane ... looking forward to the next visit.
Photographed by Desmond Louw and compiled by Oli Munnik