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Borough bikers brake for Buddy’s

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A Flushing bicycle store has maintained a reputation of providing good service and reliable parts for more than 51 years, its owner said, despite increasing competition from chain stores making their presence felt in a developing borough.

Jerry Amato, who owns Buddy’s Bicycles at 79-30 Parsons Blvd. off Union Turnpike, said there has been a tremendous amount of changes in Queens in terms of where people go to shop. But that has not stopped Amato and his team at the bicycle store from offering customers quality, fair-priced bikes and bike parts.

“We are a service business,” Amato said, comparing his business to more sales-oriented stores such as Toys ‘R’ Us and K-Mart. “But they (the large chain stores) cannot service the customer and they provide a low-end product.”

Amato, who is in his 70s, said a lifetime of experience in the biking industry has provided him with important insights. He said Buddy’s Bicycles’ focus on its customers has allowed it to weather a host of changes along Union Turnpike, which includes a decline in specialty stores in favor of large malls where customers can partake in one-stop shopping.

“I started in the business when I was 14, so I’m in the business almost 60 years,” Amato said. “From the beginning, though, it was a tough, tough business.”

Amato, a Jamaica Estates resident, said business picked up in the ’60s, as bikers in the borough became more prevalent and people needed specific parts to repair old vehicles. He said this upward trend continued through the ’70s but came to a halt in 1987, right after “Black Monday,” when the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 20 percent of its value.

Since then, Amato and his team at Buddy’s Bicycles have gone on to sell such brands as Giant, Specialized and Fuji bikes, as well as electric bikes and scooters for adults and children. The Flushing business also sells car racks for bikes, bike helmets and exercise equipment.

Buddy’s also sells stickers and other accessories such as gloves, mirrors and brakes.

For Amato, the prospect of participating in his business another 51 years and weathering another chapter of changes in Queens seems daunting. The owner of Buddy’s said he is looking forward to a bit of free time.

“We are one of the few remaining sites in this entire area,” he said of hardware and other specialty stores that used to be his neighbors. “I got to think about getting close to retirement, don’t you think?”

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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