Avocet was based in Palo Alto, CA as the company founded by the Hoffacker Brothers, Bud and Neil, in the late 70s. Their father, Bernie, along with his brother, founded Palo Alto Sport Shop and Toy World in 1934, with the bicycle department located in the back of the store. In 1974, Palo Alto Bicycle Shop spun off from the Sport Shop and Toy Store and moved a couple blocks away to 171 University Avenue, in downtown Palo Alto. Avocet's first product was the leather saddle, made in Italy by one of the well-known saddle manufacturers. Jobst Brandt was hired as a consultant to design the tires, later designs of saddles, the Avocet cyclometer, and their avocet bird logo. In recent years, they've downsized substantially and are, for all intents and purposes, defunct. Palo Alto Bicycles is doing well and the Hoffacker brothers recently puchased the struggling Bicycle Outfitter bike shop in Los Altos, CA from Dick and Marilyn Powell.
I worked in the Avocet mail-order department during the summer of 1979, and experienced my first California earthquake, a 5.7 Richter temblor on August 6th, while working at Avocet. I remember looking out the 2nd story window while filling phone orders and seeing the lampposts swaying back and forth.
In my opinion, the coolest item they ever sold was the Avocet Altimeter Wrist Instrument. I loved my WI and wore it while snow-skiing and also on several European cycling tours through the Alps. Very handy and impressive, when it worked properly. My favorite item ever was the Avocet FasGrip Road 20 clincher tires which are now unavailable. They had the gum sidewalls and were the ideal tire for our atypical style of road and trail riding (through creekbeds, over snowfields, and on rocky hiking trails) throughout California and the Alps in Europe.
If you ever need more info on Avocet, contact me off list, as I have several of the old Avocet mail-order catalogs. Here's the current info on Avocet: http://www.avocet.com/directory.html
Jan Johnson Portola Valley, CA (Just back from Velo Rendezvous IV and exhausted, but still on a buzz from all the good times we had) Thanks Chuck! You are the Greatest! Meeting the Kiwi Guys was great - three very nice chaps from NZ. Good on ya, Mates!