102-Year-Old Bike Shop is Popular Again as Bicycle Sales Surge During Pandemic

The New York staple is one of the oldest bike stores in the U.S.

by - Posted on Jul 24, 2020

Bike shop

New Yorkers are re-discovering the joy of bike riding as they continue to avoid mass transit in an effort to keep up with social distancing guidelines. And Bellitte Bicycles, a 102-year-old bike shop in Queens, New York is enjoying the surge in demand—just like other bike shops across the country.

Businesses everywhere reported a rise in sales of bicycles and bike repairs in recent months. The shop, one of the oldest bike stores in the country, has been assisting local residents who need to commute to their jobs or are looking for safe ways to get outside and exercise since the Covid-19 crisis.

The family-owned business was created by Salvatore “Sam” Bellitte, who emigrated to New York from Sicily, in 1918, and is now run by his grandson, Sal Bellitte. The long-standing business has been in operation through several pandemics and disasters—including a grand opening during the Spanish flu pandemic, WWII, the Great Depression, the oil crisis of the 1970s, Hurricane Sandy and now the Covid-19 outbreak.

"We've seen it all. The coronavirus pandemic is like coming full circle," Bellitte told AFP, according to The Jakarta Post, while expressing his gratitude towards Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision in deeming bicycle repair shops an essential business during the lockdown. 

Not only is biking a safer alternative to public transportation, but it’s a great way to get some fresh air and exercise during a time in which our options for physical activity is limited.

"There is nothing like a magical open space right now," Robin Lester-Kenton told AFP. The 41-year-old mother has been taking advantage of cycling to spend time with her two young sons.

While keeping up with the surge in business, employees at Bellitte Bicycles are also taking precautions against the virus by only allowing a few customers into the store at a time and wiping down surfaces and bikes that come in for repairs.

Bellitte spoke to AFP about the important role his family-owned business has played during the health crisis. "Business has been good but it's also about serving the community," he said. 

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