TAMPA — Joe Haskins wanted to retire.
“He was months into trying,” wife Michelle Calonge-Haskins said. “I wish he would have so we could have spent more time together.”
Before they could, he died at 79 on March 21, 2021.
That’s why she knows Haskins would approve of the family’s decision to shutter Joe Haskins Bicycle Shop, which he had owned since 1960.
Calonge-Haskins’ daughter, Brittany Calonge, has been running the business at 2310 N Florida Ave. since he died. But she needs help. The solution would be for Calonge-Haskins to come out of retirement to assist with bike sales and repairs.
“He wouldn’t want that,” Calonge-Haskins said. “He would want me to stay retired. People told us not to make any decisions during the first year after he died. So, we thought we could continue to run the business, but we decided closing is the best decision for us.”
She’s been back in the shop recently, but only to say goodbye to customers.
Joe Haskins Bicycle Shop’s final day is Dec. 17.
“Customers are of course upset,” Calonge-Haskins said. “They also accept that times change. But it’s been around for a long time.”
Since 1916, according to a sign painted on the side of its building, making it the oldest bike shop in Tampa. Joe Haskins Bike Shop was originally named Tampa Cycle Company and owned by Haskins’ uncle, Anthony Arduengo.
Calonge-Haskins recently found the first receipt Haskins signed as owner. “May 27, 1960,” she said.
Haskins kept the business’ original name through at least 1979, according to news archives. Newspapers first identify it as Joe Haskins Bicycle Shop in 1981.
“They went from downtown on Florida Avenue to Franklin Street, from Franklin Street to Tampa Street, and then from Tampa Street to this location,” Calonge-Haskins said.
She met Haskins at the Tampa Street location in 1978.
“I lived across from it,” Calonge-Haskins said. “I went over there to get a 25-cent soda and had my 11- month-old son in my arms.”
Haskins’ wife at the time, Dorothy Haskins, asked to hold the baby and for Calonge-Haskins to bring him back as often as possible.
“I did, and then one day she says I should start working there,” Calonge-Haskins said. “I would go in every once in a while, then went full time, and then went to work for the county for 20 years but would still go in on Saturdays.”
Dorothy Haskins died in 2011. A year later, Haskins and Calonge-Haskins married.
“Joe got sick with colon cancer. I got diagnosed with Degos, which is a rare fatal disease,” she said. “We were best friends and decided that we would get married and take care of each other. He died hugging me at the hospital.”
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Due to diabetes, Haskins needed dialysis three times a week in his final years, Calonge-Haskins said. He was at the shop when treatment was done.
“It took everything he had just to function,” she said. “But he was so dedicated to this place.”
At age 6, Haskins lied about his age to get a paper route to help support his family. His first wife had six kids from a previous marriage.
“He adopted them all,” Calonge-Haskins said. “He bought every one of them a car, put braces on their teeth, put them through private school. He was a real go-getter and loved them all. They were his kids.”
There were a few times that Haskins came close to selling the business.
“But then he’d always say that if we do, we can’t get it back,” Calonge-Haskins said.
So, he instead prepared Calonge-Haskins’ daughter to take it over.
“He was hoping it would still be able to financially take care of her and me,” Calonge-Haskins said. “And then, down the road, she could choose what she wanted to do with it.”
Business is still good: On a recent Saturday, Calonge-Haskins said, they had more than 100 customers. But her daughter wants to try other ventures.
“We have wonderful customers who we will miss,” Calonge-Haskins said. “But it is time to move on.”