Roger and Yasuko’s Bernie’s Bike Shop Celebrates 33 Years

by on June 8, 2022 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach

Yasuko and Roger in 2012. They haven’t changed. Photo by Mercy Baron.

Roger and Yasuko at Bernie’s Bike Shop are celebrating. A casual observer could tell something special was up by the three balloons near the old funky cash register.

33 years ago this June, Roger Lovett bought the original Bernie’s in its location on Voltaire and Ebers. It was 1989 and Roger was in his late 20’s – having graduated from Point Loma High School in 1980. As a kid, he had been a regular customer of Bernie’s.

Yasuko came into Roger’s life around that same time — they met on a blind date. They married and she has worked in the shop with Roger ever since.

In 1991, they moved the shop to it’s current location at 1911 Cable Street — where the Sunshine Surf Shop used to be.

Now, Bernie’s is OB’s most popular — and one of the survivors — bike shop. At one time, there were four bike shops in and around OB. And now Bernie’s has a website – which is relatively new.

Nearly ten years ago, then-OB-writer Mercy Baron wrote a wonderful piece for the Rag about how Roger and Yasuko have helped make OB what it is today.

Here are some excerpts:

 

Bernie’s Bike Shop at 1911 Cable Street. (All photos by Mercy Baron.)

Roger said he vacuumed the floor twice at his old shop and decided, what the hell for? It’s just going to get dirty again. And in reading reviews about the shop on Yelp, the funkiness and no pressure selling attitude of the shop is what seems to draw customers in. They feel the OB vibe there and it keeps them coming back. Nothing fancy here, Just a good selection of bikes, lots of parts and quick and easy repairs.

Heck, I’ve brought my tryke in several times for squeaks, brakes not working, air in tires, all kinds of piddly little things, and they always seem to be able to help me out straight away. Every single time. When I have offered a few bucks here and there, it was refused by Yasuko or Roger each time. After a year or so of their kindness, I finally just bought them a big old bag of Kettle Corn from the Farmer’s Market as a way of saying thanks for being so cool.

Lots of the reviews on Yelp talk about other shops that try to up sell their customers on things they don’t need and their disdain for it. When I asked Roger about this, he said, he was a lousy salesman. When he worked in the old shop on Midway, his bosses would tell him to stay in the back since his salesman prowess was nowhere to be seen.

But Roger has no problem shooting the breeze with his customers. In just the few times I’ve gone in there, there always seems to be one rider or another hanging out and talking shop with him. He’s a gentle giant sort of guy and will always take the time to talk to you, and change your flat tire too. …

When I asked him how he keeps his costs down, since that was one of the most mentioned comments made in reviews, he said, having nothing fancy in there can translate to savings for the customers. While his rent is somewhat high, being a just a couple of stores north of Newport Avenue also makes for a lower rent for a beach area business.

And while he can order a $3,000 bike if you need one, he keeps more moderately priced bikes in the shop. …

Roger is not just a repair guy, where he makes most of his money, but he is also a racer himself. The Velodrome at Morley Field is a place where he likes to cut loose….

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Lois Bike Lane June 9, 2022 at 7:41 am

Very cool, great local business story! Been helping people be on 2 wheels for decades!

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