Pictured: Shelley Sund, owner of Ventura Bike Depot. Photo submitted.
by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer
Ventura Bike Depot
239 W. Main St., Ventura
Are you from Ventura County originally?
No, I moved from Seattle to San Diego to start my bicycle (actually Quadricycle) import business in 1982. For the rest, you might have to wait for the book! LOL
Do you have a family?
Yes, I am the youngest of four siblings, plus I have a 20-year-old son in college.
Are you involved in any interesting activities or organizations?
Several! Cycle California Coast (cyclecalcoast.com), Channel Island Bicycle Club, National Bicycle Dealer Association. I’m a Bike Ventura member and regular donator, as well as a Ventura LandTrust member and member of the Brock Hills HOA. Also: I’m a music fanatic!
When did you open Ventura Bike Depot, Inc.?
What inspired you to start this business?
I was a trademark and importer for the first Italian Quadricycles imported to California.
The factory name was “JOMARK” (boring!). I trademarked “Pedalina” and opened a dozen rental locations, sold off once in 2003, and converted the last (current) location at 239 West Main Street to a full-service bicycle store.
Since 2003 it has been known as Ventura Bike Depot, Inc. and has grown and evolved the past 19 years.
What’s a typical day like for you?
I try and catch up on my emails in my PJs from the home office with my favorite homemade espresso drink.Those typically send me on some other projects and phone calls.
Get down to the store and check on my favorite crew to see if they need any moral support, change, or just plain entertaining bike lore talk.
A triple hill bike loop may be in there a couple or three times a week.
If it’s Friday, I roll out with my favorite customers/friends for a two-three hour ride and maybe stop for lunch.
What in your opinion makes your business different or special?
Our friendly, caring approach to anyone who stops in. Meeting them right where they are, technically. No question too insignificant or elementary. We are in the business of putting smiles on folks faces and that is why everyone who works there likes what they do. That tends to bleed through and becomes a little infectious (we hope!).
What do you find most challenging about your work? What’s most rewarding?
Sometimes we have a bit of overflow, but we try to get everyone in the order they walked in. Greeting you with at the minimum, “Hi, how are you doing?” or “Where are you riding today?” Being smack dab in the middle of a three-way bicycle route system means that many of our patrons are literally actively riding when we encounter them.
That being said, we still have a pretty good area surrounding us for those who need to drive and off-load their bikes from autos. Oh, and if you need a car bike carrier, we do that too!
Anything new happening right now?
The weather is here, and outdoors is key to enjoying your exercise! I was about the first I know of to introduce electric bikes into my rental fleets when I ran six places simultaneously.
That sector has broken wide open and we have the advantage there. It ranges from youngsters not even worrying about a CDL [California drivers license] to baby-boomers. Ride farther, see more, smile cause ya can’t help it!
Did your business change during the pandemic?
Many more hobby cyclists became riders in 2020. Our goals are to maintain them, keeping them happy with accessories, upgrades and trade up to better quality bikes when the time is right.
What bike models tend to be the most popular to rent? To buy?
Specialized road and mountain. Electric and acoustic models. MARIN Hybrid Comfort style, gravel, mountain and road models. Folding: TERN bicycles. Benno Cargo (hauls your family and gear). IZIP Electric, Diamondback Electric. BOSCH Certified mechanics with three-power bicycle lifts.
What are some trends you’re seeing — both with regards to bikes and features coming on the market, and with customer preferences?
Ride to enjoy the views. Hills no longer a barrier due to electric assist bicycles. Class one, two and three are all legal with no special license necessary. That being said, a MID-DRIVE electric motor is far superior to a REAR HUB. Come in and see the difference. Better battery management to power a mid-drive, which means way longer distance between charges.
When a person is buying a bike, what are some things they should take into consideration?
Where will you be riding? How far will your rides be? How frequently do you intend to ride?
What kind of car rack would work best for your new bike? Don’t skimp on the lock!
What is your favorite model of bike?
Specialized Sirrus carbon comp for road and Specialized Levo for mountain or offroad.
Where do you like to ride?
Sycamore Canyon, Sulphur Mountain Road, take the train to Goleta and ride back on the paved routes. Shelley’s Triathlon: BIKE-BEER-TRAIN!
Where do you see things going with your business in the near future? How about in the next 5-10 years?
Now that I am closing on the property, I plan on making improvements to the real estate. I am completing a long term dream of mine!
What’s one thing about your business that most people probably don’t know?
Ventura Bike Depot was voted #1 Bike Shop in Ventura County for the past two years. And that a woman owns it….really!