The new Avon Village Center may not be completed for many years, but when Bob Desmarais, of Bristol, heard about Ensign Bickford's collaboration to create a "more formal downtown," he knew he wanted to build a bike store right nearby.
He opened his third Bikers Edge store in the state at 16 Ensign Dr. in Avon over a month ago, close to Rails to Trails and the area where the town center will be developed. The town's vision of extending existing bike trails and directing them through the new center was another draw to the location, Desmarais said.
However, the shop's space near the Town Green is only a temporary location for Bikers Edge, Desmarais said. After developers knock down that building to make way for a new village center road, Bikers Edge can begin constructing a new store from the ground up on that Ensign Bickford subdivision, he said. The new building probably won't be more than 100 yards from Bikers Edge's current location, he said. That would require Planning and Zoning Commission approval.
He hopes to be a pioneer business as the village center progresses, nestling into its "downtown home" as an "old-fashioned bike shop" with a family environment. Since the store is on a side street off of Route 44, Bikers Edge will benefit from accessibility and visibility near the main drag while avoiding the heavy traffic of the state highway.
Desmarais saw a void in terms of "cycling specific" stores in Avon, so it seemed like a good fit.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the bike shop chain. The Casey family opened the first Bikers Edge opened in Bristol in 1972, according to its website, and there is another location in Torrington. The family used to own a sporting goods store and split the bike shop into a separate business.
Desmarais is the third Bikers Edge owner and has been with the company for 29 years, since he was 14.
"It's all I've ever done," said Desmarais, who enjoys biking because "it's really inexpensive fun," "it's healthy" and it's "eco-friendly."
Bikers Edge sells a range of bicycles, such as high performance road, BMX, urban fitness, comfort, mountain, downhill and recreational bikes, as well as unicycles and kids’ bikes. Trek is the major featured brand Bikers Edge carries.
He also hopes to offer bike rentals in the future.
In addition to selling bicycles specialized to handle roads, gravel paths, and/or mountain trails, the new Avon store does repairs. Customers can call ahead or stop in to schedule an appointment. Repairs typically take up to five days.
Bikers Edge does not confine its role in the cycling world to the walls of its stores, hosting Monday night bike rides every week that leave from different locations, state parks and trails across Connecticut. There is also a family ride every Sunday in Burlington. Sometimes participating cyclists link up with other organized bike rides, like one in Collinsville.
The Avon store may start hosting local rides at the end of May, Desmarais said.
Bikers Edge is located at 16 Ensign Dr. in Avon and is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays. Customers can contact the Avon store at 860-678-7770 with any questions or to schedule a bike repair appointment.