How long have you been in business?
Almost 20 years, since 1993. I (Dave Raffa) have been here for over 5 doing BMX. We have been open in our new location since April 1st, 2011, after the old shop burned down on Feb 28th, 2011. R.I.P.
Who owns Planet Bike? Who works there?
Barry Dicken owns. I have held down the BMX for over 5 years . The famous Jozik is the “manager.” Little John is the mechanic, followed by a constantly rotating cast of characters.
Can you explain how the idea for a store came to be?
Barry Dicken was always passionate about bikes, and when he felt he needed to change career paths in the early 90’s, he decided owning a bike shop was the way to go. “Why not change a hobby into a career.”
What events have you done at the shop in the past few years?
Meet-and-greet BBQ with the Fit team, 2010 Halloween Jam at Sayreville Skatepark, 2010 Back To School jam at Sayreville Skatepark, 2011, and this Saturday, October 27th another Halloween jam at Sayreville Skatepark- come out and shred. Should be a good time this year. Costume contest, hot dog-eating contest, and a race around the lake .
What changes have you noticed in the scene since you opened?
Some of the younger kids don’t get it these days. Most don’t understand the value in having a shop around that does BMX. I’m not bashing mail-order. Mail-order is a very valuable commodity to kids without a shop near them. But if you live in central Jersey, there are several shops that do BMX in the area. Support local business, support your local scene, kids. Beyond that the scene’s definitely bigger these days, which is good, but you kids gotta remember we’re all friends. Stop hating, Love your fellow rider. Save your attitude for the scooter-ers.
What does Planet Bike offer that mail-order doesn’t?
For one, we give back to the scene with the jams we put on. Also we’ll put on the parts you buy for $5 or less, or even free. If we put it on, it’s guaranteed to be on properly. I couldn’t tell you how many times someone has brought parts back mangled after they tried to put it on themselves. The guys who buy all of their parts here never get charged for any installation.
Strangest experience selling an animal product?
Got a good one for this! Kid comes in to buy a headset for his scooter. He wants the purple animal headset. Joking around, I hit him with the classic scooter joke. ”What’s the hardest part about scootering… telling your dad you’re gay.” Funny, right? Well, about two hours later that kid’s dad shows up, and he didn’t think it was very funny. I guess the kid took the joke literally and told his dad? Or maybe he told him I just called him that. I don’t know. But he was NOT psyched. He came in all tough-guy, I immediately apologized. I tried to explain the misunderstanding and he wasn’t having it. He said he would never come back. If the kid in question or his dad read this, again, we’re sorry.
Why carry Animal?
Is this a real question? Why wouldn’t you! Animal is as local as you can get company-wise. Quality parts, some American manufacturing, and nice design work. GLH tires are the best BMX tire ever.
What’s something you never expected to happen after opening the shop?
Obvious answer: THE FIRE. Barry’s answer: “Two words…Dave Raffa” (sarcastic tone). Barry’s serious answer: Opening a second shop (Matawan/Old Bridge). For me, working here I never expected the kind of support I get from all my friends at distributors. I can’t thank them enough for keeping me rolling smooth and looking fresh. Dudes like Scotty at Animal. Gotta throw a shout to Sean McKinney.
Any future plans for the shop?
Just to keep on rolling, and fire prevention. Ha, ha.
How many trends have you seen come and go since you have been open?
Giving we have been here for 20 years, PlanetBike has been through all of it. Once upon a time we were
the only place you could get BMX parts in central Jersey. We were here before Staff was in Lakewood. So yeah, PlanetBike has seen it all.
What is the best thing you have gained or witnessed from owning/ starting the shop?
With the skateparks popping up in surrounding towns, and the popularity of BMX. We have witnessed the BMX scene in central Jersey grow and evolve into what it is today.
If you could have one BMX part that doesn’t exist yet, what would it be?
Chromoly front hub guard, or an Aluminum sprocket with a chromoly guard.
Where do you see the shop in 10 years?
In 10 years Barry will be on the verge or retirement. Hopefully the torch will be passed on to another passionate bike shop owner who can supply that generation of kids with quality service.
Location: East Brunswick, NJ; Oldbridge/Matawan, NJ
Shop address: 1020 Rte 18 North (East Brunswick); 361 Rte 34 ( Matawan)
Hours: 10AM-8PM Monday- Friday, 10AM-6PM Saturday, 11AM-4PM Sunday
Contact info: (732) 651-8080 (East Brunswick); (732) 290-8989 (Matawan)
PB:BMX 2011 Halloween Jam at Sayreville Skatepark
PB:BMX summer edit from 2010