A cute beach cruiser was what the customer had in mind, and Open Air Bicycles owner Ed Brown finished her thought by picking out the perfect model.
On a recent morning at the new bike shop location on Upper State Street, Brown’s success was certain when the elderly customer — an unseasoned rider — offered a grateful smile.
That appreciative facial expression explains why Brown, a longtime Santa Barbara resident and businessman, got into the bike business in the first place.
After wetting his bicycle chops for eight years at Velo Pro Cyclery, Brown bought Open Air Bicycles from its second owner four years ago, around the time the now 42-year-old business moved from a location at the Amtrak station to 1303 State St. near the Arlington Theatre.
The business evoked Brown’s love of first-rate customer service, which is an ideal also practiced in the store’s second location at 3516 State St.
A late bike bloomer himself, Brown feels customers should never be confronted with the snobbery that sometimes accompanies talking to experts.
“Never should you be treated like that,” Brown told Noozhawk. “It’s the shop that supports the biker. Open Air has always been, and I believe in, friendly customer service.
“I just love all aspects of bikes,” he continued. “It’s fun to get people on bikes.”
Brown opened the new location last month, wanting to add to the shop’s convenience and presence in town while maintaining high standards.
Both locations are similarly sized, serve as repair stations and display more than 100 bikes for cyclists ranging from children to elite sports racers with four main brands — Giant Bicycles, Cannondale, Schwinn and GT.
The Upper State Street location boasts more parking, which has been a challenge for the downtown shop, Brown said.
The stores also have “different feels,” he said, noting the checkered-tiled, 1950s vibe downtown and rich, earthy vibe of African mahogany uptown.
“We love the neighborhood up here,” Brown said. “We believe it’s going to be a great location.”
Brown said he isn’t looking to expand further or franchise, something old shop owners tried in the past.
Sounds like he’ll be content hooking more folks on a favorite hobby-turned-career.