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New shop fills void in Pennsylvania

Published April 2, 2012

POTTSVILLE, PA (BRAIN) Tuesday April 3 2012 7:00 AM MT—John Brock is a long way from the Hollywood film and TV sets he used to work on as a set designer and technical adviser, not to mention the crowded Southern California lifestyle.

“I got tired of 22 million neighbors. I now have 2,200,” he said as he began his fourth week in business at Pottsville Bike and Board, a bicycle and skateboard shop in this small town about 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia on the Schuylkill River in Pennsylvania’s coal country.

Pottsville’s last bike shop closed in 2006, and local cyclists had to travel more than 20 miles to the nearest dealer. “The plum was ripe for picking,” said Brock, a Pennsylvania native who moved back to his home state in 2007.

He opened for business March 10 in a 1,200-square-foot storefront. Skate product takes up less than a tenth of that space, Brock noted. He carries bikes from Haro, Jamis and Masi.

Given that he is serving such a large geographic area, Brock said he is being careful to stock a wide variety of product to serve all customers of all income levels and interests. That includes about 75 bikes on the sale floor. “We’re kind of out here on an island, so we have to cover everything,” he said.

Mountain and BMX bikes have proved to be his sweet spot so far; road sales, on the other hand, have been nonexistent. Overall sales, at least in the early going, have been encouraging: 30 bikes sold in the first week. Brock said he has moved at least one bike every day but one since opening, and 20 bikes are lined up in the service area.

Down in his “used bike dungeon” — a basement that was a Prohibition-era speakeasy — bikes dating back as far as the 1920s await restoration to be sold in the shop. Many are diamonds in the rough Brock has discovered in barns and attics in the Pottsville area. He turned his biggest profit on a 1980s Lotus road bike that he picked up for $25 and sold for $500.

Then there’s Brock’s personal bike: a 1937 Packard that he rides unrestored, just the way he found it in a barn. “I’m always getting stopped by people asking about it. The spokes are rusty, but the coaster brake still works and it rides beautiful. The tires still had the nubs on them.”

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