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New career arrives on two wheels

Published Sep. 16, 2005

After two months of retirement, Gerry Beland went looking for a new career. He had always wanted to own a business and found one the whole family could get involved in: bicycle sales and repair.

"We've been avid bicyclers for years," said the Seminole business owner. "We're a health-conscious family and my son is very athletic, so it seemed to be the perfect choice."

The Sarasota native had worked 28 years for United Parcel Service in a career that took him from driver to executive. After four years in England, he was back in Florida last year when the company offered him an early retirement opportunity that he accepted.

"But at 51, you can only play so much golf," Beland said. "Going from working 60 hours a week to doing nothing but recreational activities, it didn't take me long to realize I had to do something."

The Belands _ Gerry, now 52, his wife, Diana, 48, and son, Adam, 20 _ bought a bicycle franchise and three months ago opened A.

J. Barnes Bicycle Emporium in the Park Collection shopping center at 11244 Park Blvd.

It cost about $100,000 to open the doors, Beland said. The figure includes the franchise fee, the cost of fixing up the 2,000-square-foot store and buying inventory, with a little operating capital left over, he said.

"We're focusing on the beginner to intermediate riders," Beland said. "We're well decked out, but not high-end."

Prospective buyers can try out the bikes in the parking lot behind the store, Beland said. And those looking for an afternoon spin on the nearby Pinellas Trail can rent bicycles.

Customers can wait for minor repair work or leave their bikes at the store. Chuck Anstadt does repair work and also sells bikes. He recently moved to Seminole after five years in Australia, where he did semiprofessional road bike racing.

Bike prices range from $250 to $1,000 and include such brands as Gary Fisher, Mongoose, GT and Greg Lemond. The styles include all-terrain, mountain, road, hybrid and BMX.

Store products include lubricants, toe clips and straps, car shuttles, BMX grips and brake pads, horns, gel seats that sell for $17.95 to $34.95, a mini-tool kit for $45.95, bicycle locks from $6.99 to $39.99, helmets from $19.95 to $54.95, gloves, seat packs, socks, caps, T-shirts, fancy shirts and shorts, and Adidas shoes from $135 to $165.

Store hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. It is closed Sunday.

New polygraph

business opens

Doug Owen has purchased Allan Stein & Associates, a private investigation and process service agency at 8050 Seminole Mall. He is the new president of the corporation.

Stein has formed a new company, Allan Stein Polygraph Services, and specializes in conducting polygraph examinations for legal, business and law enforcement agencies in the Tampa Bay area.

Virtual Mortgage

Network arrives

Brenda Martin of RE/MAX Affiliates at 9400 Seminole Blvd. said the company now offers a system that can let home buyers close on a house in as few as five days.

Martin said a prospective home buyer sits down to a computer monitor and is connected to a Virtual Mortgage Network loan counselor who appears on the screen. Within minutes, the counselor can provide the client with loan programs from more than a dozen mortgage companies. The client then selects a mortgage company and the information goes directly to an application form and the underwriter, Martin said.

Buyer specialist

joins sales team

B. Gail McKenzie has joined the sales team of Saul and Phoebe Tave at RE/MAX Affiliates as a buyer specialist.

She previously sold homes for McKenzie Builders and is a longtime Pinellas County resident.

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