VACAVILLE — It takes a lot to stick around for 40 years in any business.
For a small business to last that long, it becomes more impressive.
Ray’s Cycle certainly fits that bill after four decades with no end in sight.
Ray Posey Jr., the shop’s current owner, said a combination of knowledgeable employees, loyal customers and timing helped keep the shop in business.
Opened in 1972 by Ray Posey Sr. and his three sons, the business has changed over the years.
When it opened, it was a bike shop as well as a power equipment shop.
“Once upon a time, my dad, myself and my brothers, we opened the doors and it was ‘Ray’s Cycle and More,’ ” Ray Posey Jr. said. “It was the same place, but a very different mix.”
That mix stuck around for a while.
“Some place in the ’80s, we split the shop,” Posey said. “We split the power equipment off. Ray’s Mower and Equipment moved and the bicycle shop expanded.”
The brothers stayed with the bike shop and the dad moved the power equipment to a new location, which now exists as J&W Lawn and Garden, owned by a mechanic formerly employed by Posey.
The bike business took off and developed into the place to go now for cycling needs of all kinds.
“It’s a fun business,” Posey said. “We really like our customers. We’re all cyclists, so it’s nice to combine your passion and work.”
Will all the staff being cyclists, Posey said it makes it easy to do their job of selling equipment and expanding the local cycling community.
“That’s kind of the nutshell. Cyclists like turning people on to our sport, and helping them on the ride,” he said. “It’s really fun helping new customers, new friends figure out what kind of cycling they want to do and kind of enable them.”
Posey said the Vacaville store and the Fairfield location get a variety of cyclists.
“(We get) all kinds of riders. Some do it for health, some for competitiveness, some because they can’t run and sometimes the doc says it’s time for you to do something,” Posey said. “It’s nice, cycling is fun. It pays you back pretty fast. You go out for a bike ride and you feel pretty good afterward.”
“We pride ourselves on our knowledge,” he said. “Our products change pretty fast. We’re knowledgable about geometries and mountain bike suspensions. You have to understand those things to project that knowledge to the customers.”
Having a large inventory and varying sizes also helps, Posey said.
“We want to sell you the right bike and the right size,” he said. “We have five or six sizes for each model.”
None of that matters, however, without a loyal customer base that helps spread the word.
“A lot of people see something – they see their neighbors, or they see a video of people riding a bike and think it looks like fun. They don’t really know what that experience is like,” Posey said. “That’s why they come see us.”
Word of mouth is a huge reason Ray’s Cycle has stuck around.
That’s exactly what brought Diane Weatherbie and her son Patrick, 11, into Ray’s on a recent weekday afternoon.
“We’re looking for a bike headset for his scooter,” Weatherbie said. “The scuttlebutt at the skating park was to come here to get the headset and grips. Everybody at the skate park was, ‘You got to go to Ray’s Cycle.’ ”
Weatherbie said the staff was quick to help her and explain what to do to get what she needed.
“I don’t know what it is. It’s a headset, that’s all I know,” she said. “They said if you bring in the pieces, completely disassembled, which is fine, because that’s what it is, it’s for a Christmas gift. And then they would fit it in there.”
It’s experiences like that keep customers like Larry Darnell of Vacaville coming back.
In Darnell’s case for 40 years.
“I’ve done a lot of business over the years with Ray,” said Darnell, who was in the shop to pick up his latest purchase. “I’m here to pick up a second bike I bought my grandson, who is around 6.”
Positive experiences keep him coming back.
“One thing you can always count on here is selection and I’ve known the people – I knew the father,” Darnell said. “I moved here in 1972 and they hadn’t been open too long at that juncture, so I just keep coming back.”
It’s those customers that keep Ray’s Cycle going, Posey said.
“We’re always striving to be better,” he said. “One of the secrets of success is we have fairly low employee turnover. We have great employees who stay here a long time.”
Even those who have left have gone on to do some big things.
“We have a district attorney in Placer County, we have Air Force pilots, engineers who used to work here,” Posey said. “In 41 years, we’ve had a few employees. Most of them are still customers.”
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.
400 Main St., Vacaville, 448-1911; 910 Texas St., Fairfield, 428-1911
Vacaville hours: 9:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Fairfield hours: 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.