People looking to have their bicycles tuned up or perhaps buy one in Lewiston and Auburn have twice the options they did last year.
Busytown Bikes on Lewiston's Sabattus Street opened March 19 and Sports Trader on Main Street expanded its sporting goods store to accommodate a room dedicated to bicycles.
The two new centers expand Lewiston's bike shop scene from two to four.
"The more people on bicycles, the better for all of us," Dominic Giampaolo said about stepping into the local bike market. "We want to have a shop that helps cultivate the scene," the Busytown's co-owner said. "We all have our niches," said Rodney Robichaud, the co-owner of Sports Trader. "There is definitely enough out there for everyone."
Giampaolo grew up in the city, graduating from Lewiston High School in 1987. He spent the past 20 years working for the computer industry in Silicon Valley. "It's crazy out there. It's definitely a different pace of life," Giampaolo said about the San Francisco Bay area. "If you get an email at 10 0'clock at night, you are expected to return it promptly," he said. "You work around the clock."
Giampaolo and his wife, Maria, decided it was time to spend more time as a family. The couple, along with their 4-year-old son Enzo, moved back across the country, arriving at Giampaolo's childhood home Wednesday.
Waiting for them was Frank Jalbert, a buddy that Giampaolo grew up riding bikes with. Jalbert, a 20-year veteran of the bicycle industry, had been running Busytown on a much smaller basis out of his house garage for the past three years.
"I outgrew the garage within the first year," Jalbert said.
"Frank and I kicked around the idea of owning a shop for a long time," Giampaolo said.
The timing of growth fell into place.
Busytown outgrew the garage. Enzo was growing, about to begin school and needed a good neighborhood to ride his bike.
Sports Trader outgrew their footprint and needed space to accommodate the demand for more bikes. And, last but not least, the growth of charity bike rides.
Both Sports Trader and Busytown owners credit rides like the 5-year-old Dempsey Challenge and the Trek Across Maine as being great for business.
"There is quite an insurgent of new people getting into riding," Robichaud said. "Business has definitely taken off the last two to three years."
"You see people that would not even think about buying a bike because of events like the Dempsey Challenge," Jalbert said.
Like the charity bike rides, both shops see their business as a benefit to the community, whether it's for health or trying to save on gas. People riding in events such as Trek Across Maine feel good while doing it, Giampaolo said. Once they realize the accomplishment they made at the finish line, they stick with riding. That is a huge health benefit, he said.
"If it's a nice day, I ride a bike to work," said Robichaud, who gets a kick out of his shop being next to a gas station adverting fuel at close to $4 a gallon.
"I try to run my errands on my bike," Giampaolo said.
Both shops have a wide range of bikes. "It's not just one type of bike, it's all types," Giampaolo said. "We cater to everyone. We have everything from a $50 used bike to a $10,000 time trials bike," said Robichaud.