Bicycle Doctor has seen a nearly 10% increase in profits every year since the store's inception almost a decade ago, store owner Tony Libretti said.
When Tony Libretti first sold Tony’s Bikes — his bicycle repair shop in Milford, Connecticut — and traveled over 1,000 miles to his new home in Palm Coast, he forgot to bring one thing.
“I came here with a couple of surfboards, and that’s about it,” said Libretti, who moved to the Palm Coast with his wife, Michelle, nearly 11 years ago. “I had no intention of opening up another store when I came here.”
But when Libretti settled into the community, that all changed.
“As I looked around, I realized there was biking here,” he said. “I started fixing bikes on the side for local people and realized how many more trails there were and how much potential there was here, so that’s when I decided to open up another store.”
That was over a decade ago, and now Libretti, the owner and operator of the Bicycle Doctor repair shop at 2550 N. State St. Unit 3 in Bunnell, has seen the fruits of his labor.
The shop, which will celebrate its 10-year anniversary on Nov. 1, has seen a profit increase of nearly 10% every year, Libretti said.
But he wasn’t always sure he’d be successful.
“When I first moved here, the economy was pretty poor, so it was scary to invest in a business not knowing what the economy is going to be,” he said. “I chose to go with a lower-rent location so I could hopefully wait out the time as the store grew. In Palm Coast, the rents were so high I was afraid I wouldn’t survive even a year.
“It was a risk. There’s no question about that.”
Libretti said Flagler County’s investments in bike trails, including the Bella Vista and Graham Swamp trails as well as a variety of others, have had a direct impact on his business.
In addition to the county’s work, Libretti cited his own work within the community as a source for the growth of his store.
With the help of other bikers in the area, Libretti helped found the Flagler Area Biking club in 2009. And in 2011, he helped with the creation of the Mala Compra trail, a 2.5-mile walking trail and 5.5-mile mountain bike trail that begins at the intersection of Mala Compra Road and State Road A1A.
Now Libretti can’t go anywhere in the community without being recognized by customers and fellow riders, something he wasn’t particularly accustomed to back in Connecticut.
“It’s more of a family situation here,” he said. “We know pretty much everybody that walks in the door."