(Not) all in the family; Cyclery's closing shows few businesses are handed down forever.

Byline: Matthew Bruun

FITCHBURG - After 94 years in business and an estimated 100,000 bicycles sold, Gamache Cyclery is hitting the brakes. The store is closing April 30.

George Gamache, who has run the family business since he got out of the military in 1956, is relocating to Maine. He has been looking to sell his 7,700-square-foot building for almost two years but is now ready to close up shop even if a sale isn't final by month's end.

"I'm very, very happy," Mr. Gamache said on a recent morning at his 65 Laurel St. store. "It's been long in coming. I've been here quite a few years now and it's time to make a move."

The business is a city landmark, a spot to which many residents can point and claim as the place they bought their first bike. Even as Mr. Gamache has sold off inventory in recent months, the store still has a wide array of merchandise, from tricycles to high-end racing bikes that retail for thousands of dollars. The store, the longest continuously running family business in the city, sells 294 different sizes of tires, Mr. Gamache noted.

Business has hung on despite the rise of competition from other specialty bicycle stores and the encroachment of Wal-Mart. Mr. Gamache said he is proud of the quality of merchandise his store has always sold.

"We carry a real bike, something that's assembled properly," Mr. Gamache said. "It's not a toy."

Serious cyclists have long been key to his customer base, he said, noting years of cycling excursions that took off from his shop. Mr. Gamache remains a serious rider himself, saying that last year he logged 25 miles a day before opening the shop. He's been unable to keep up that pace so far this year, however, because of preparations for the impending closing.

Ed Collier, executive director of the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic bicycle race, has been a Gamache's customer for 20 years.

"I bought my first pair of cycling shoes from George," he recalled.

Mr. Gamache has always been a loyal supporter of the race, observing its 50th year in July. "He's able to outfit just about anybody on any budget."

Mr. Collier said it was hard to see the shop close.

"I wish him nothing but the best in his retirement," he said. "It's going to leave a void, though."

Mr. Gamache's father started the business on Plymouth Street in 1915. After a year

he moved the shop to 12 Westminster St. (now home to Once Upon a Tile), where it thrived for more than 50 years.

The shop moved to its current location on Laurel Street in...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT