New bike shop is riding high

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Scott Chambers, owner of Zippy’s Bike Exchange, said in the few months the business has been open, it has already evolved into a “full-blown bike shop.”  Scott Chambers, owner of Zippy’s Bike Exchange, said in the few months the business has been open, it has already evolved into a “full-blown bike shop.”

WILDWOOD- Zippy’s Bike Exchange is almost impossible to miss while driving down Pacific Avenue. On a street that’s spotted with markets and empty storefronts, Zippy’s collection of bright beach cruisers and mountain bikes fill the sidewalk in front of the shop.

“We’re doing better than I expected,” said Scott Chambers, owner of Zippy’s. “When we opened, we had no sales goals, we just wanted to work out the kinks before the season started.”

Since the shop opened March 28, he said the traffic into the store has been brisk and the clientele has been mostly year-round residents and summer homeowners.

The concept for the shop - a bike exchange program that allows customers to sell back their bikes for a percentage at the end of the summer- was inspired by a different group of potential customers. Chambers said he had dreamt up the idea with international students who spend their summers working on the island in mind.

“Many of the students come here with jobs already, so the first thing they do is look for an apartment. After that, they’re looking for a bike,” Chambers said.

Now, the bike exchange program is “quickly evolving into a full-blown bike shop,” Chambers said. Besides selling bikes, now they are working on repairs, customizations, and buying used bikes.

“We’ve had everything but a unicycle come in the door,” said Chambers.

Before opening Zippy’s, the space had been used as an office for his family’s seasonal rental business, Max on the Beach. However, the shop’s central location on Pacific Avenue, and in the 3 ½ percent Urban Enterprise tax zone, also encouraged Chambers to transform the office space he and his wife, Michelle, owned into a retail business.

“I think what Pacific Avenue needs is more unique mom-and-pop businesses,” Chambers said when asked about the revitalization efforts for Pacific Avenue. He pointed to other successful businesses in the area that offer a unique product, like the Holly Beach Train Depot, which attracts customers from all over the country and has been open for over 15 years.

According to officials with the Business Improvement District, Pacific Avenue is making headway. Now, there are 86 occupied properties and a 74 percent occupancy rate, which is up 5 percent from last year.

While Chambers said has never been a bike aficionado, he said biking was always a family activity.

“I love going for a ride on the boardwalk with my family when it’s nice out,” he said.

Zippy’s is named after Chamber’s son, Alex “Zippy” Chambers, 6, who earned his nickname because he “can’t stay in one place, he always zips from one thing to another,” Chambers said. The family’s rental business is named after their oldest son, 10-year-old Max Chambers. In an effort to give back to the community, Zippy’s has already donated two bikes and two bike locks to Wildwood Middle School for end-of-the-year prizes, Chambers said.

“We live here, our kids go to school here,” said Chambers, who lives in North Wildwood, “This is about as mom-and-pop as you can get.”

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