Published by DelmarvaNow.com
BETHANY BEACH — When George Cole and his twin brother started managing the Bethany Bike Shop seven years ago, they wanted to make it more than just a place to rent bikes.
With biking becoming more popular, as a way of exercise and transportation, Cole said the shop has become a destination for avid cyclists, as well as vacationers.
“It was more of a small rental shop at first. Since we’ve taken it over, we’ve gone into more high-end bikes, a lot more bikes, stuff like that,” he said. “We’re getting busier and busier every year, especially with these beach cruisers; they’ve kind of been ‘in’ the last couple of years.”
One of his favorite things is setting people up with rentals for the week. Usually they’ll come pick up their bikes before they even check in, Cole said.
Whether they’re just renting or buying a bike, he makes sure to take the time to ensure each customer gets the perfect fit.
“I just want you to be happy with your bike,” he said. “When a kid jumps on a bike, he’s just got the biggest smile on his face and he’s thrilled.”
Seeing visitors come back year after year and interacting with everyone on a day-to-day basis is another perk of the job, Cole said.
One fond memory is of a couple from Indiana that was having trouble fixing their bikes. Cole could tell they were really struggling, so he helped them out.
“They wrote me a letter just to say (thanks), and they come back year after year to say ‘hi’,” he said. “A lot of people are from the city where it’s busy, busy and if you give them a minute or two they are appreciative of that because they don’t get that back home.”
Kristen Towne of York, Pa., said she comes to the bike shop because the brothers are not only friendly, but genuinely want to help you out.
“These guys just know what you need, know what you want. They don’t oversell you and they’re more than willing to work with you,” she said. “You feel like you’re family when you’re down here, you don’t feel like a customer.”
The shop also offers surf lessons, kayak trips — which Cole’s younger brothers, Charlie and Jack, help with — and even boat rentals.
“A couple of moms (recently) came by and said, ‘Oh, we got pictures with Charlie and we’re going to send them over’,” Cole said. “Getting those kids up (on the surfboard) for the first time, and they’ve never been out there, it’s really gratifying.”
As for working with his brothers every day, “it’s great,” Cole said with a grin.
“I enjoy them,” he laughed. “A lot of people don’t get along with their siblings, but we find a happy medium.”