Pat’s Cyclery, a business fixture on Mesa’s Main Street for more than half a century, has moved — not just off Main Street but outside Mesa entirely.
Changing demographics prompted owners Ken and Don Patterson to move to a new location in the Gilbert Gateway Towne Center at Power Road and the Santan Freeway section of Loop 202.
The location is within the Gilbert town limits, although the shopping center carries a Mesa address from the viewpoint of the U.S. Postal Service, and the business continues to use Mesa in its advertising.
Operating over the years as Pat’s Bicycle Shop, Pat’s Schwinn Cyclery and finally Pat’s Cyclery, the business at 929 E. Main St. served several generations of customers who needed bicycle sales and service.
“It was hard (to move) because that store had been our home for so many years,” said Ken Patterson, 56, the son of founder Ross “Pat” Patterson, during an interview at his new shop.
“There has been a lot of nostalgia from customers, but we’re not running a museum.”
The exodus of long-established businesses on Main Street such as Mervyn’s and Matta’s Mexican restaurant decreased retail traffic along the street, he said.
Also, the central Mesa area is not as affluent as the new location, which Patterson believes will boom with further development of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and Arizona State University Polytechnic.
But he still lives in central Mesa and therefore is concerned about its future. He thinks the proposed extension of the light-rail line will spur a rebirth of the area.
“Places evolve, and then they get reborn,” he said. But he added it would be tough for his business, if it were still on Main Street, to survive during light-rail construction.
The ancestors of Pat’s Cyclery date back to 1918. Ken’s father bought the business, then called Mack’s Bicycle Shop, at 35 S. Macdonald in 1947. The business moved to east Main in 1957 and was there until Christmas Eve 2009. The new store opened on Dec. 28.
As a child growing up in Mesa, Ken often helped his dad and mom in the store, first on Macdonald and then on Main.
“My older brother (Don) did the mechanical work, and I got sent to the office,” the younger Patterson said.
For years the shop was particularly appealing to kids — and their parents who bought bikes for them. The business advertised on the Wallace and Ladmo Show, a long-running children’s TV program in Phoenix, and the popular pair staged a show in the parking lot across the street in the mid-1960s, Ken Patterson recalled.
As people became more fitness conscious and concerned about the environment, the adult market became more important. Big-box retailers seized much of the children’s market, which required independent dealers like Pat’s to focus more on repair and services. Also the store offered more accessories such as helmets and clothing.
In the late 1970s the business opened satellite stores in Chandler, Gilbert and northeast Mesa, but they were closed by the late 1990s.
“In the days before computerization, it was hard to run satellite stores,” Ken Patterson said. “It was a lot of work.”
Pat gradually became less involved in the day-to-day management of the stores, turning the reins over to his sons.
But he continued to visit and offer advice right up to his death five years ago, Ken Patterson said.
The store lost its distribution rights to Schwinn cycles — and dropped the word “Schwinn” from its name — when the brand was purchased six years ago by Dorel Industries. Today Pat’s is a dealer for Trek, Gary Fisher and MirraCo-brand cycles.
But the loss of Schwinn still causes confusion for some customers because the store was closely associated with that brand for so long, Patterson said.
Several customers interviewed by the Tribune thought the move to the Gateway Airport area was a good idea.
Antonio Calleros, a resident of Gilbert who grew up in the Globe-Miami area, said he remembered driving past Pat’s neon sign as a kid every time the family drove into Phoenix.
“If this is the same one as on Main Street, then good for him. Keep on truckin’,” he said. “He’s doing well to get out of (central) Mesa. There’s no growth there.”
Richard Caldwell, a Queen Creek resident who has patronized the store for eight to 10 years, said the new location is more convenient for him.
“I’m glad they’ve moved here. It’s closer for me,” he said.
Patterson, himself an avid cyclist, has signed a five-year lease at the new location, so he plans to stick around.
“I feel I am paying homage to my mom and dad who worked at it for so many years,” he said. But he added “I would like to have more time to use our product.”