By Heather Cass
The Lake Country Bike Shop, at the corner of Main and Vine streets, has been a staple in downtown North East for decades, so when Leann Parmenter, a North East resident and avid cyclist, heard last fall that the shop may be closing, she was crestfallen.
“I wasn’t just sad that I was losing a local resource for cycling gear and repairs, but that another business in North East was going to close its doors,” Parmenter said.
Parmenter, who works full time as a traffic engineer for the City of Erie, had been thinking of opening some sort of business herself, perhaps an art supply or bookstore. But the bike shop offered the perfect opportunity for a budding entrepreneur in search of a side gig.
After a discussion with her husband, Jeff Seevers, owner of another North East staple, the Straw Hat ice cream shop, the two decided to get into the cycling business, too.
They purchased the shop in January and are currently working on a fresh look for the store, which will remain in the same location. They plan to open in March, though the inventory of new bikes will be limited. Manufacturing shortages and massive demand in 2020, when everyone was in search of pandemic-friendly activities, combined to make it nearly impossible to secure new bikes for sale at this time.
While Parmenter and Seevers continue searching for bike distributors, they have a plan B: “We want to offer consignment bikes and are encouraging anyone who wants to sell a bike to stop by the shop and make a deal with us.”
The shop will also offer cycling supplies and basic repairs. They are in search of more mechanics.
“We are looking for a couple of bike mechanics, so if anyone out there would be interested in a few hours (or more), we’d love to talk to you,” Parmenter said.
But beyond selling and repairing bikes, Parmenter hopes to sell the sport itself.
“We really want to continue the work that Dave and Ruth Dennis, who owned the shop for years, did in building up the biking community,” she said. “We’ll be hosting a lot of group rides and regular weekly rides for all skill levels.”
Among the rides they plan to offer are cycling tours to the local North East wineries, restaurants and more.
“We’re working with local businesses to encourage tourism within our community,” Parmenter said. “The North East Chamber of Commerce is going to help us develop some new rides and, of course, we’ll keep the Wine Country Bike Ride that happens each year during the Wine Fest in the fall.”
Seevers and Parmenter feel strongly about supporting the community and other small businesses in North East and hope to collaborate with other local vendors.
Parmenter and Seevers, who have both competed in triathlons, marathons, bike races and more, are excited about pouring some of that boundless energy into preserving and building a North East mainstay.
“We really want to thank everyone who has helped us get this far and we’re excited about this new endeavor,” Seevers said.
If you have any thoughts on the bike shop, want to suggest a ride, sign up to lead group rides, or have the skills to help out in the shop as a mechanic, contact the bike shop at firstname.lastname@example.org.