For more than 37 years, Bike 'n Kite has been a landmark for local residents and visitors who pass the quaint store in Westhampton Beach.
From Pontuk Lane one can see the bikes, kites and colorful wind accessories that always manage to grab your attention and pique curiosity as to how the store manages to outlive other businesses in Westhampton Beach.
Westhampton Beach native Bart Birk said he learned from his father at a young age the fundamentals of a bicycle. He was 10 years old when they opened shop and he found his passion for building and repairing bikes.
Today, his father still helps at the store, but it's Bart who is the "bike man." The “bike” behind Bike 'n Kite originated from Bart’s mother who never had a bicycle as a little girl. As for "kite," Birk says they are a beach favorite for both parents and children.
Diehard riders will always continue riding and bikes will always need fine tuning. Over the years and changing times, Birk says it's not the people that change, rather the faces.
"The bike industry has changed in terms of equipment," said Birk. "But as far as the area, we’re getting more crowded out here."
The shop is only open from St. Patrick's Day through Halloween so they rely heavily on loyal customers during the prime season. As for the winter months, Birk has altered his business to make it more "realistic" in today's society.
"Bike shops are a dying breed, especially in the winter months no one is biking out here" he said. "Whatever can be done in a store today can be done over the Internet."
In the offseason Birk concentrates on “BikemanforU.” The "virtual bike shop" is an online store that sells items including bike parts and accessories, as well as access to view the extensive video library of bike demonstrations that has gotten thousands of “hits” on YouTube.
"Years ago who would have dreamed of bringing the business on the World Wide Web, but that’s the world we live in.”
Season: February – October
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