By Terry Rogers
“I will be 79 March 24,” Jack Sheaffer said when asked why he has decided to retire at the end of March. “This has been my passion for the past 32 years and it has kept me alive. What I will miss most is my customers. Being able to help them solve problems. My dad had a motto – service before, during and after the sale. I have tried for the past 32 years to honor that.”
Sheaffer has been in the customer service business his entire life, he explained. His father owned Economy Auto Supply which was located across the street from where his bike shop, Bike’s Etc., has been since it opened 32 years ago.
After he closes the doors to his shop at the end of March, Sheaffer knows he will continue to be busy as he claims to be “the type of person who always has to be doing something.” He is hoping to open a small bicycle repair shop in his garage that will be available by appointment only to do tune-ups and repairs. Although he will continue to work on bicycles, Sheaffer wants to work no more than a few hours a week as opposed to working six days a week as he does now.
“For the past seven years, I have participated in Vermont Bike Tours or VBT,” Sheaffer said. “We travel to Europe where we stop in one town, bike outside the town and then move on to another in countries like France, Spain and Italy. There are 18 of us, the maximum you can have on the trip, traveling to Italy in October. This has been so much fun and I love the comraderie we have developed with other bikers around the United States. The touring company provides the bikes for us and plans the trip. It is just a lot of fun. I am the oldest guy there but I look forward to this every year.
In addition to biking tours in Europe, Sheaffer has also been active in Senior Olympics, traveling around the country to compete. He explained that a friend suggested that he start competing and he originally was skeptical since he was in his mid-50s.
“Senior Olympics? I am not a senior citizen, I told him,” Sheaffer laughed. “But, he talked me into the biathalon which is a run, bike run. In the Olympics, 90 percent of the time, two people are on the team with one running and one biking. We decided to do a three-man team and I was the one on the bike. We won first place and I was hooked from then on.”
Before he began long-distance biking, Sheaffer was an avid tennis player but began developing knee problems. He currently has two artificial knees and biking is much easier on them than tennis. He also believes that it is difficult for bike stores today because people can purchase bicycles online at lower prices than he can sell them for in his shop.
“Often, I had people coming in with a bike in a box, paying me $150 to put it together,” Sheaffer said. “Service is what kept my business going over the years and I really did enjoy helping my customers solve problems with their bicycles. Retirement is definitely bittersweet. I love what I do and I will miss it but I am also looking forward to living life. There is no doubt I am blessed.”
Until the store closes, Sheaffer is offering discounts of 40 percent off everything in the store. Until March 31, the store will be open Tuesday through Friday from 10 to 12 PM and 2 to 4 PM. Sheaffer will also be open on Saturday from 10 to 12. For more information, call 302-422-8030.