Most of you know that for the past four years, I’ve run a local business here in Gloucester with my other half, Big Mike. We started running a bike shop with nothing more than a tax return, getting bigger and bigger every year – literally, we ran out of space twice in two years. This was our best season yet.
However, a few months ago we decided that this would be our last season in business. We’re closing our doors on October 9.
We’re doing it for a few reasons. Obviously, not making enough money to be worth the hours we put in being the top reason, although we didn’t do terribly. We also saw trends in where the bike shop industry was headed, and decided now was the time to get out. We were shortchanging our kids – we really didn’t spend the time with them that we could, because we were so busy working. We have other opportunities already, we’re actually looking forward to our last day so we can relax and take a nice long weekend with our vintage camper and our kids.
I can’t say enough good things about how Gloucester received us. So many people went to bat for us immediately, tried us out, talked us up to their friends, and loved us. It’s been an amazing journey to become part of a community. When we started I knew a handful of people in town. Now, I can’t walk into a bar or restaurant without stopping to chat with someone. I’ve got an amazing group of friends that would never have been on my radar without the shop. Heck, Jason Grow was one of our first customers before we even had a shop. Marty and Michele DelVecchio as well. And if we didn’t have the shop, and Jim Dowd’s bike didn’t get stolen, there would have been no way the Clam would even exist.
I will miss a lot of things about owning a business here.
I will miss selling a kids’ bike, getting it back in on a trade in, and then selling that kid a bigger bike, with the kid saying “man, I loved that bike!”.
I will miss meeting new people. I know, I think I just said that. But there’s been so, so many people I call friends now, who I met when they walked in the door and needed something.
I will miss the gratitude we got when helping folks learn about bikes. We taught a lot of people the basics they needed. We filled a lot of tires for free. A lot.
I will miss field trips from Pathways, where I could show kids how to change a tire, read them a book about bicycling, explain to them all the parts of a bike, and have them color in helmets. Did you know girls can change tires? They do.
I will miss tourists who come in, decide to rent a bike to see our wonderful city, and return with nothing but accolades for everything we have to offer here. Sometimes you forget the beauty of what you’ve got until a German tourist family reminds you.
As refreshing as it will be to move onto the next chapter in our lives – the frustrating moments of business ownership will definitely be a future Clam article – this will be bittersweet as well. It was so wonderful to be woven into the fabric of a community like Gloucester, and I intend to keep that up even without the bike shop.
All I can say is thanks.