OCEAN CITY — Now is a good time to be in the bike business.
Just ask brothers Mike and Mark Annarelli, co-owners of Annarelli’s Bike Shop on Asbury Avenue in Ocean City.
This fourth-generation business, which opened on the island in 1935, caters to the region’s residents and visitors who take advantage of two-wheeled transportation, particularly in the summer when traffic congestion and parking make conditions difficult for drivers.
Bicycle paths are becoming increasingly popular in southern New Jersey. They are found from Lower Township to Somers Point to Galloway Township. And where no bike paths are found, often there are bike lanes instead.
New Jersey in 2009 adopted a “complete streets” policy that requires future roadway projects to take bicycles into consideration, state Department of Transportation spokesman Timothy Greeley said.
Engineers are encouraged to design projects with bicycles in mind, a strategy that is less expensive than retrofitting these routes to accommodate bicycles at some later date, he said.
“When projects are proposed, pedestrian, bicycle and transit accommodations are no longer an afterthought — they become an integral feature of the overall investment plan,” he said in an email.
And with a bike path opening this summer on the new $400 million Route 52 causeway, Annarelli’s Bike Shop expects to be extra busy.
“It’s definitely going to be good for business,” said Mike Annarelli, 53, of Upper Township.
On a recent weekday, the store was a hive of activity. Hundreds of bikes hang like Christmas ornaments from hooks over matching rows of more bicycles. Equipment such as helmets and child carriers adorn the walls.
The store sells a variety of biking styles, including mountain bikes and cruisers in brands that range from Schwinn to Phat Cycles. Each new bicycle is custom-fitted to its rider with adjustments to the seat and handlebars.
“It’s neat. You see the kids grow up and sell to them as adults,” Mark Annarelli, 51, of Upper Township, said.
The brothers bought the business in 1989 from their father, who died in 1992.
The repair shop in the back of the retail store looks like a scaled-down version of a mechanic’s garage down to the aluminum lifts the repairmen use so they can work comfortably on the bikes while standing.
Annarelli’s sells bicycles of all kinds, but about 30 percent of its business is in repairs. The store specializes in same-day service for customers who find their bicycles haven’t made the trip to the shore in one piece.
“Sometimes bikes will fall off the rack or a wheel will be too close to the exhaust system,” Mark Annarelli said. “Normally, you’d take a bike to a repair shop and say, ‘I’ll pick it up next week.’ But they’re on vacation. They want to be able to ride it, so we try to do everything the same day.”
The store does about 75 percent of its business in the summer months.
Bicycles at the shore tend to rust more quickly because of the salt air. With limited storage space in summer homes, people tend to leave bicycles outside more often. This can make repairs especially difficult.
The hardest job is adjusting the spokes on a wheel to make the alignment true, the brothers said.
They learned how to work on bikes from their grandfather and father.
“Working in a family business growing up, we didn’t have a choice,” Mark Annarelli said.
Their father and grandfather were capable mechanics. No job was too big for them.
“They used to say if they can’t fix it, it’s not broke,” Mike Annarelli said.
Children today seem less mechanically inclined — or perhaps less motivated — to fix their own bicycles than the two brothers were growing up. Despite advancements in manufacturing such as aluminum frames, most repairs still can be made with a handful of common tools, they said.
“Kids don’t tear things apart the way we used to,” Mike Annarelli said. “Many kids won’t even fix a flat tire.”
But for the two brothers, getting a new bike was not that special.
“We always changed things up. You wouldn’t get attached to any one bike,” Mike Annarelli said.
Now Mike Annarelli’s children, Matt, 21, and Nick, 20, are working in the shop, promising to keep Ocean City residents pedaling for years to come.
“I like it,” Nick Annarelli said. “I get to work with my family all day.”
Annarelli’s Bike Shop
Location: 1014 Asbury Ave., Ocean City
Owners: Mike and Mark Annarelli
Revenues: Not disclosed
Contact Michael Miller: