Bicycle Warehouse celebrates its 30th anniversary and debuted in Pacific Beach

For 30 years, the Bicycle Warehouse has been helping experienced cyclists and beginners hit the road.

The company’s journey, which spanned five locations, began in Pacific Beach. His original store is still there at 4670 Santa Fe St.

The company’s anniversary events included one on July 9. Owner Debbe Simmons said she attracted up to 100 participants for a bike ride at Mission Trails. Next, there was a giveaway of bikes at the Pacific Beach store for military families.

Its other stores held similar giveaways, with a total of 20 bikes given away last month in honor of the anniversary.

The Bicycle Warehouse is a full service bicycle and repair shop with locations in Pacific Beach, Chula Vista, San Marcos and Oceanside. Its new store opened July 30 in Temecula.

The company’s mission is to get people actively involved in cycling and to be their best source of information and equipment.

“I can’t believe it’s been 30 years,” Simmons said, reflecting on the store’s history.

Debbe Simmons and her husband, Mike, launched the business on July 4, 1992, shortly after getting married. Having recently fallen into mountain biking themselves, their mission was to help the San Diegans “get their butts on a bike.”

“We got married in November 1991 and started building the business in December, about 30 days after we got married,” Simmons recalled. “It all happened so fast.”

The couple found what was once a storage space just off Interstate 5 in Pacific Beach, rented it out in April 1992, and opened it three months later. Using credit cards to fund the business and repurposing wood to build shelving, they went headlong into the business world.

“It just took off,” Simmons said. “We were the only employees and we were busy seven days a week. That’s right back when mountain biking was just starting to get super popular.

The business started as “Mountain Bike Warehouse”, but as other forms of bicycles became more popular, it was renamed “Bicycle Warehouse” to meet the demands of the sports scene.

The San Marcos location opened just a year after the Pacific Beach store opened, a testament to the popularity of the business the Simmons had opened. But five years into the business, Bicycle Warehouse hit its first big hurdle – finances were deep in the red.

“Mike asked me to come over in the evening and go through the books and it turned out our financial planner wasn’t above board on some things,” Simmons said.

Under the direction of their first financial planner, the company was in debt up to $650,000. The couple had to lay off 32 employees and take notes with their suppliers in order to get out of a disastrous financial hole.

“We were young and naive and we made a lot of rookie mistakes,” Simmons said. “It was the worst year of our lives, finding out about this nightmare and having to eat crow and negotiate the return on investment. But I wouldn’t change him because of the lessons he taught us.

In the years since, Bicycle Warehouse has helped people get involved in the cycling lifestyle, from mountain biking to casual cruising.

Robb Riggle, Pacific Beach store manager who has been with the company since 1994, said their approach to helping people ride their bikes is to be as helpful as possible.

“We really want to help people,” Riggle said. “We’re not judgmental and we’re not trying to sell you a bunch of stuff. We just want to answer their questions and help in any way we can.

Part of the company’s continued success is due to the culture fostered with employees, some of whom have worked with the company for over 20 years.

“Our team is by far one of the most important parts of our business,” Simmons said. “If our staff aren’t happy, it’s hard to get that exceptional service. They are on the front line and we have to take care of them.

She said the company regularly takes staff to team events like go-karting and escape rooms. The couple also sponsor leadership workshops regarding the store and life in general.

“Mike and I have always believed in personal development,” Simmons said. “The better we get, the more we educate and grow as people, we will lead happier lives.”

This level of service seems to have paid off, with a loyal customer base shopping at the warehouse for three decades.

“We’ve had enthusiastic fans and many of our guests have shopped with us for 30 years,” Simmons said. “They were here to buy bikes for their kids and now they’re back to buy bikes for their grandkids.”

Riggle said their approach to helping customers is what sets them apart as a bike shop.

“It’s always been a culture of trying to help people and get people involved in the sport of cycling,” Riggle said. “We get all kinds of customers, from beginners to intermediate riders. None of us do it for competitive reasons, the staff just do it out of a passion for cycling. It’s great to have someone who is on their first bike or haven’t been on a bike in a while and see the fun they have when they start riding.

Simmons said the cycling scene has seen an increase in new cyclists in recent years.

“If you just look from two years ago to now, I’d say it’s at least 20 or 30 percent of Pacific Beach runners,” Simmons estimated. “I see so many new riders and new people riding… It was the only way out during COVID.”

Along with new interest in alternative transportation, Simmons said e-bikes have a newfound popularity and will soon help transform the landscape of the cycling scene.

Wiley C. Thompson