Made in Ontario: Bumstead’s Bicycles

Lloyd Bumstead can remember a time in Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga and Upland when citrus orchards, giant fields of sandy vineyards and drag strips once stood on what is now freeways, malls and housing developments.For Lloyd, a fourth generation Ontarian, his roots in the City of Ontario run deep, anchored by a bicycle store that was first opened by his great grandfather in 1909.This is the "Made in Ontario" story of Bumstead’s Bicycles and its current owners Lloyd and Nancy Bumstead.THE BEGINNINGBumstead’s Bicycles first opened in 1909 at 211 East B Street in Ontario. Lloyd “LG” Bumstead moved here from Connecticut in the 1880s. He was very mechanically minded and at that time bicycles were a leading mode of transportation.Once the Model T was introduced in the 1920s, bikes began to evolve into more of a toy than a form of transportation. In response, LG Bumstead changed his business model and added sporting goods to the bicycle element of his store.The business model proved to be successful – successful enough so that he could eventually turn the store over to his son, Richard Bumstead, Sr.  In the 1960s, Richard Bumstead custom built a 3,000 square foot building, including a gun range, at 420 N. Lemon Avenue. Eventually Richard “Dick” Jr., Lloyd’s father, ran the store.PASSION FOR BIKESFor Lloyd Bumstead, Bumstead’s Bicycles was his first job. He worked in the service and repair section at the shop while attending Cal Poly Pomona.While starting his senior year at college, business took a turn for the worse. So in 1986, Lloyd decided to quit school, borrow money from his great aunt, and relocate the bicycle shop where it currently stands today at 1038 W. Fourth Street in Ontario. The move also meant closing the sporting goods part of the business.Bicycles have always been a passion of Lloyd’s. As a teenager in the 1970s, he embraced BMX biking. In the late 1980s, mountain biking had taken off, and he became interested in that, too.Lloyd, who is now affectionately known as the "resident old guy" by some of his customers and younger riders, has seen many trends come and go. When BMX biking was getting hot, Bumstead’s sponsored a BMX team. One of their riders eventually made it to the Olympics.Lloyd has seen scooters, skateboards and high tech equipment make their way into his bike shop.But through the years, there have also been constants, like the customers he first met when he was 12 are now bringing in their grandchildren’s bikes for repair."We would get guys in their 70s come in and say that when they were 12, they remembered coming to Bumstead’s to get their first bike," Lloyd said. "Today, Bumstead’s is a rite of passage. Fathers who grew up coming here will say to their wives about their sons, ‘He's ready for his first bike. Let's go to Bumstead's! "COMMUNITY AND CUSTOMER SERVICEAnother constant through this is the value that Bumstead's has placed on relationships and customer service. The Internet has changed how consumers purchase everything, from books to appliances to bikes. What has saved Bumstead's through all of this is its repair and service department."We sell ourselves through our customer service," Lloyd said.On a recent Monday, Lloyd and his wife Nancy sat in their bike shop just before it opened its doors. Their cat, Skidz, darted around the bike shop as their son got ready for the day. A line of people were waiting outside for the doors to open. Lloyd and Nancy pointed out mementos from the past:  a fishing rod from their great grandfather's sporting goods store; Lloyd's bike from the 1980s; and his dad’s 1960 Schwinn Paramount. For the two of them, Bumstead’s Bicycles represents a 100 year commitment to family and community.As they sat there in the dark for just a few minutes of peace before their busy week, both Nancy and Lloyd expressed their gratitude to the community for supporting them through all the years, particularly their support following a move in 2007 to Sixth and Mountain that almost bankrupt them.“We moved out of that location at Sixth and Mountain in December 2007 because it just wasn’t a good site for us, and we didn’t open back up until June. It was a tough time for us, and we wouldn’t have made it if it weren’t for David Allen’s column about our situation,” said Nancy Bumstead, who has lived in Ontario since she was 2 years old. “The community came out and made sure that we were okay. They realized that if they don’t shop at little stores like ours, we will go away. We stayed open for the community, hoping they would rally around us, and they really did. It was confirmation that we were needed and wanted.”To learn more about Bumstead’s Bicycles, visit bumsteadbikes.com. Bumstead’s Bicycles is located at 1038 W. Fourth Street, Ontario.