Rack dealer transforms former nightclub

Cascade Rack operates in former home of The Horned Hand

By Joseph Ditzler / The Bulletin / @josefditzler

Published Jul 8, 2014 at 12:01AM

What: Cascade Rack LLC

What it does: Sells and installs vehicle and garage racks, hitch receivers and accessories

Pictured: Business owner Matt Massingale

Where: 507 NW Colorado Ave., Bend

Employees: Two full-time and one part-time, with plans for more

Online: www.cascade rack.com

The nostalgic music fan who wanders into Cascade Rack at 507 NW Colorado Ave. in Bend will find little left of the building’s recent past.

Business owner Matt Massingale renovated the space that once housed The Horned Hand nightclub from the ground up. In place of the eclectic wall hangings and a wilderness-cabin feel are neat displays of Thule, Yakima, Küat and other brands of devices engineered for hauling outdoor toys including skis, bikes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.

“The first thing we did is tear down all the construction on the inside,” he said recently. Then, a contractor ground down the concrete floor, erasing 30 years worth of discoloration. Massingale signed the lease in October and after months of rehabilitating the building opened Cascade Rack in December.

The result is a front-end showroom interrupted by a newly installed wall that defines the back shop, where installation takes place. The garage door once covered with muffling fabrics in the nightclub era is now an entry point for cars and trucks scheduled for fittings. A replastered ceiling and an exterior face-lift, in keeping with historic district standards, complete the picture.

It’s a “little bit of a funky space,” Massingale said, that’s working out as retail space. “It’s a pretty open-armed welcome from the neighborhood, that’s for sure.”

A former buyer for Altrec, the Redmond-based e-retailer in outdoor gear and accessories, Massingale previously worked as a buyer and then as an operations manager for Amazon.

He also played professional baseball. Drafted by the Florida Marlins in 2000, his junior year at the University of Washington, Massingale played four seasons in the minor leagues, moving from Utica, New York, to Jupiter, Florida, to Portland, Maine, according to baseball-reference.com and GoHuskies.com. Injuries curtailed his pitching career in 2003. Massingale said he’s no sports junkie but still enjoys the game and looks forward to teaching it to his young son.

Although he comes from an e-commerce background, Massingale said he’s focused on establishing Cascade Rack as a face-to-face experience before moving to online sales. He said he intends to make customer service his business hallmark, with an emphasis on fitting the gear installation to customer needs. His business is as much about how folks use their gear as it is about the rack or cargo container they purchase from him.

“I want people to feel blown away by the attention they got,” Massingale said.

He expects to spend an hour or more talking to customers about their needs and expectations, he said. That helps them make a choice, reduces the number of returns and increases customer satisfaction, Massingale said.

“We have fun. We work hard. Our customers are great,” he said. “They usually want to do something with their kids or grandkids. They’re awesome.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7815, jditzler@bendbulletin.com

Q: What do you have installed on your automobile?

A: I actually have a Thule rack and a Yakima box (for mountain bikes and camping gear, respectively).

Q: Why did you choose a business in a market served by some established rack retailers?

A: I thought, maybe there’s a different way to attack this business. A lot of specialty rack stores focus on the automobile, on gearing up cars. I wanted to look at it from the end-user perspective, enjoying mountain biking or skiing or enjoying a weekend with family.