Bob Zaratzian was never much into self-promotion, an understandable — and common — misconception because he named his local business Bicycle Bob’s 31 years ago.
The longtime local even developed fun phrases to deflect customers asking if he was, in fact, Bob — “I’m one of the Bobs but not that one.”
That humble, consistent avoidance went on until last month, when Zaratzian opened his brand-new shop in Old Town Goleta, complete with an “About Bob” section of nostalgic photos, articles and mementos.
Finally, Bob of Bicycle Bob’s has embraced his namesake.
All it took was closing his two bike stores — one on Hitchcock Way in Santa Barbara near Whole Foods, the other in Goleta’s Kmart shopping center complex— and consolidating them into one larger location at 320 S. Kellogg Ave.
“This has just rejuvenated me,” said Zaratzian, 61. “This is different and it’s exciting for us.”
Zaratzian told Noozhawk the name Bicycle Bob’s only came to be because he picked a name on the fly when he went to the electric company before opening in 1983.
The memory made Zaratzian laugh on a recent morning, sitting in the open and modernly designed layout of the 9,400 square-foot bike shop, formerly a pet supply store and offices.
The space provides 3,000 more square feet than the combined size of the previous Santa Barbara and Goleta stores, which Bicycle Bob’s leased for 27 and 19 years, respectively.
Zaratzian said he searched about six years before finding the right-sized place, allowing more displays for clothing, shoes and at least 40 additional bikes.
An extra “wow” factor was added in blown-up, floor-to-ceiling cycling photos and splashes of color in design — courtesy of a partnership with Trek Bicycle founders Tania and John Burke, who own a home in Montecito.
The couple footed bills for extras to turn Bicycle Bob’s into a model showroom for future Trek shops.
The store also has an expensive Precision Fit machine that uses motion capture analysis to determine the best bike fit for each cyclist based on flexibility, aches and more.
“I enjoy being part of this,” Zaratzian said. “Here we have elbow room.”
All Zaratzian’s best staff are now in one large location the owner never envisioned for himself.
An Orange County native, Zaratzian worked in his dad’s bike store as a kid but declined to take over the family business when it sold in 1979.
On the last day it was open, Zaratzian met his future wife, Julia, who attended UC Santa Barbara.
Zaratzian followed her shortly after and worked in a couple local bike shops before deciding to go out on his own, serving cyclists of all ages from Gaviota to Carpinteria.
The new shop has a long lease, with options to extend Bicycle Bob’s stay.
The proud owner said he wants to see his name on the sign out front for many years to come.