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A family-owned bicycle shop that got its start 80 years ago is still going strong three generations later despite a host of modern-day challenges.
Eddy’s Bike Shop was founded by Eddy Ruggles in Stow, according to the founder’s grandson Jimmy Ruggles, who is helping run the now four-location operation.
At the beginning, Eddy Ruggles opened “an all-purpose small-town general store” that sold groceries, a handful of household appliances and refurbished bikes, said Jimmy Ruggles.
The store was a hit, and eventually grew to a second location in Montrose in the 1980s when Eddy’s son Jim Ruggles took over.
Today, Jim Ruggles is 72 years old, said his son.
Jim Ruggles holds an administrative position in the company still putting in 3,000 to 4,000 miles on his bicycle annually, Jimmy Ruggles added.
Also in the 1980s, a third location was opened at 25140 Lorain Road in North Olmsted.
In 1997, the family expanded into a fourth location at 2830 Bishop Road in Willoughby Hills, Ruggles said.
The family is proud of their store and hopes their legacy will continue into the fourth generation, he said.
“Not a lot of stores make it to the third generation, and that’s our pride and joy,” Ruggles said. “That’s what we thrive on.
“Our family gets along really well and we have fun together. I have two kids and I hope they jump into it as well.”
The Stow location is the base of the company’s operation touting a 22,000-square-foot storage warehouse.
“It’s a pretty unique shop,” Ruggles said.
As the stores continued to grow, so did Eddy’s Bike Shop’s reputation as one of the largest bicycle retailers in the nation.
Typically, the company employs about 50 to 60 staff members.
But in today’s tricky market, the bike shop is down to around 30 to 40 employees.
Eddy’s sells “pretty much everything” from toddlers’ bikes to professional racing bicycles that cost upward of $25,000, Ruggles said.
And, each of the store’s locations offers a repair shop which employs three to four mechanics, he said.
Currently, like most businesses large and small, the bike shop is struggling to obtain supplies in an atmosphere where bicycles and their accessories have become limited worldwide, Ruggles said.
“It’s been ridiculous,” he said.
The last boom the industry saw was when the 10-speed bike hit the market in the 1970s, Ruggles said.
The market has hit another “explosion” as bicycling has become extremely popular.
“Like it was an explosion,” Ruggles said of the latest demands in the bicycle world. “It took a pandemic to get people exercising.”
In addition to bike parts and products being limited, shipping prices became an issue as they rose substantially in the past year, he said.
“It’s challenging, but, our product buyer is really, really good,” Ruggles said of his employee who buys a year in advance.
As a result of the savvy purchasing, when the novel coronavirus pandemic hit, Eddy’s Bike Shop had about 6,000 bikes in its warehouse to sell.
Market experts are forecasting “it will be a solid year to 18 months before you can easily buy a bike off the showroom floor,” Ruggles said.
One of the top sellers for Eddy’s Bike Shop is the “e-bike,” said Ruggles, who began racing bicycles when he was five years old.
Ruggles said he currently enjoys mountain-biking across the country.
The farthest he said he’s gone so far is roughly 600 miles when he took a trip to San Jose, Calif., and rode to Las Vegas.
An e-bike or electric bicycle has an integrated electric motor which is used to assist propulsion.
The e-bikes look like a traditional outdoor bike but are motorized with a rechargeable lithium ion battery.
An e-bike enables its rider to go faster, farther and up steeper inclines, matching the speed ratio of the bike-rider.
“Basically, it matches your effort,” Ruggles said.
Additionally, the electronic bikes allow people in poor health or who aren’t in the best physical shape to “get out there and not get destroyed,” he said.
“That’s a huge, growing market … it’s an exciting category,” Ruggles said.
The electronic bikes became “extremely popular” about 10 years ago in Europe and hit the American market hard about five years ago, he said.
They go up to approximately 20 mph, according to the company’s website.
Regardless of the style of bike preferred, Eddy’s Bike Shop maintains its goal in “keeping people pedaling,” Ruggles said.