NEW BEDFORD — Cyclists have a new sales and repair shop with Harbor Cycles, the newest addition to the hip downtown block with No Problemo at the corner. The opening is a silver lining in a cloud of closed bike shops in recent years.
Eddie Dellecese, 28, is a Fairhaven scallop fisherman and newfound bike shop owner. He says he’s expecting to make as much as $300,000 this year, enough to bankroll the Harbor Cycles’ inventory and the $750 he said he pays in rent each month.
“I paid this whole thing out of my pocket,” he said.
“I’m going to scallop until my life’s settled, until my house is paid for and this place is making enough money.”
The small shop is stocked mainly with BMX bikes — off-road stunt bikes — although Dellecese said he hopes to expand his inventory.
Dellecese has had the space since winter, he said he didn’t open until June because of issues with distributors.
Asked why he decided to open the shop, Dellecese said with a chuckle: “It’s every BMX rider’s dream to have their bike shop.”
There’s also the fact that New Bedford only has one other bike shop, and that the closest BMX-focused shop is in Rhode Island.
With the opening of Harbor Cycles, Greater New Bedford now has three bike shops. The other two are Yesteryear Cyclery in the North End and Scottee’s Westport Bicycle.
Dave Pavao is a manager at Yesteryear, the Hathaway Road shop that’s been in business since the 1920s. He said several shops have closed in the past decade like Ceasar’s Cyclery in the North End and Dartmouth Cycles. In addition, Tri-Town Cycling in Wareham closed less than a year ago.
“Maybe (they were) just selling bikes that were too expensive for the market,” Pavao said. “We kind of cater to the everyday people, not just the high-end racers.”
New Bedford resident Tony Ionno is a former BMX racer. He said he’s happy there’s a new shop in town.
“I’ve never seen a city of 100,000 that only has one bike shop,” Ionno said.
Ionno said part of the reason bike shops have been going out of business is because of competition from big box stores.
“You’re definitely not going to get the service from a big corporate chain that you get from a locally-owned bike shop,” he said.
Scott Martin, owner of Scottee’s Westport Bicycle, has been in business for 15 years. He said one of the challenges of the industry these days is the huge variety of bike styles, and having to keep all the sizes in stock.
There’s also a more fundamental problem — lack of interest.
“(Kids) don’t even want to be here,” he said. “The parents come in with the kids, and the kids don’t even want to be here.”
Martin said bicycling is what being a kid was all about. It’s just not the same anymore.
An exception to the trend is Elijah Tremblay, 15, who was at Harbor Cycles on Tuesday with a failed brake cable.
Dellecese provided a new one, installed, for $15.
“It’s cheaper (and) they have quality brands,” said Tremblay. “They do nice installations. They don’t do half jobs.”
Despite the dearth in bike shops on SouthCoast, Bob Espindola, the Fairhaven selectman who is president of the SouthCoast Bikeway Alliance, said he thinks cyclists can find what they need when they need it.
“Having more shops is a good thing,” he said, “but people will find the good shops.”