Bike Shop for Sale; McDonalds to Retire
Bermuda Bikes, the shop on Gingerbread Lane in East Hampton that has been selling and servicing bicycles for nearly 40 years, is for sale, Kent and Pamela McDonald, the husband and wife owners, announced recently.
The business began as an offshoot of Bermuda Party Rentals, which was owned by Mr. McDonald’s aunt and uncle, Alice and Donald McDonald, and originally was in the Reutershan parking lot.
Although the couple had planned to operate the business for a few more years, Ms. McDonald said it had become clear this summer that due to her husband’s health problems, including macular degeneration, a condition that causes vision loss, it was time to sell. “Kent is retired Air Force, and he’s got some disabilities related to his service, so the cumulative effects of his health history made it apparent to me that we needed to retire,” she said.
Mr. McDonald decided in the early 1980s to return to his hometown and buy the shop after working as an adjudicator for the Veterans Administration in New York City, It proved to be a perfect fit for his passion for cycling and knack for mending broken-down bikes. “Kent is probably the most mechanical person I know,” Ms. McDonald said. “I don’t think in 40 years, there has been a problem he couldn’t solve.”
The business first moved to a building on Gingerbread Lane but soon outgrew the space and ended up down the street in a spot that is double the size, she said. “A lot of our customers have been coming in since the very beginning, you know, buying bikes for their children and now their grandchildren.”
“It’s a great community store,” said Patti Ferrin, a longtime customer who complimented the McDonalds on their commitment to East Hampton. “They donated a bike to the L.V.I.S. fair every summer,” she said.
Cycling trends have changed over the years, Ms. McDonald said. The road-bike market has blossomed, and millennials are more inclined to refurbish retro bikes than purchase new ones, but, she said, business has remained consistently strong.
“It’s afforded us to live in East Hampton in a house with no mortgage, and we’ve had a condo in Florida for 25 years,” she said.
Breaking the news of the sale to employees and customers had been emotionally taxing, she said. “I keep crying. It’s like abandoning a child.” Nevertheless, she’s trying to focus on the benefits of retirement.
“When you’re self-employed, you don’t go to the beach in the summer; there are things you have to put on the back burner.”
The couple plan to do more traveling, and they recently bought a 100-year-old farmhouse in Tennessee, where Ms. McDonald is looking forward to spending more time with her three cairn terriers. Their house here is on the market, and they plan to stay in town until it sells.
That will give them the chance to console the customers who considered the store an East Hampton fixture. “I’ve had a couple of people come in who were visibly distraught because they’ve been coming here since they were little kids,” Ms. McDonald said. “For a lot of people who live here year round, when a business like this goes away, it’s hard to imagine, because they’re so used to having it as a part of their lives.”