How long have you been in business? We have been a shop since 1991. I purchased it in 2006.
Can you explain how the idea for a store came to be? The shop was started by a high school kid; originally his father would work the morning hours and he would come in after high school. It was then sold to his best friend, and later to me. It’s always been run by riders and run by friends who have been involved with it since day one. I actually used to pedal there clear across town just to look and eventually became friends, worked there on and off for years, and finally made the deal.
Who owns the shop? Who works there?
The shop is owned by myself, Michael Macisco, and we now have two locations. The original shop employs Steve Werner, a long time bicycle guru and team member since day one, who stayed on after I got it. He’s a huge help. We also employ a host of people on and off, depending on the year, but we are the core two. At the other location, it’s Salvatore Coppola, manager, and Thomas Burke; they are the glue of that operation. Everyone of course lets me know when I’m screwing up, ha ha; well, most of the time.
What events have you done at the shop in the past few years? The shop has held jams, DVD premieres, skatepark clean-ups, as well as sponsoring a host of local talent. The shop team as of now is Tom Burke, Shane McLellan, Hector Restrepo, man-boy Alex Collins, Colton Civitello, Will Tallimelli, Team East, and Pauly Barnum so far.
What does Tony’s offer that mail-order doesn’t? We try to separate our shop from mailorder and other shops by staffing riders and stocking the stuff people want, not being the “Well, we can order that” shop! We also install the parts we sell for free and often build wheels for customers while they wait or with same-day turn-around. I feel like a well-run shop that truly gives a damn about its locals and scene, and of course BMX in general, has a huge impact on its scene. Most shops aren’t stocked or run from a riders-perspective; ours is. The shop serves as a meeting spot, a place to check out what’s new or watch videos; people really get to see what BMX is about from a visit to a real shop. One other point I’d like to make is many people get the wrong idea about BMX and what it’s about, or how hard it is to do. We try to show people that BMX is for everyone, and you don’t have to be superman to enjoy pedaling your bike and blasting curbs. It’s about the feeling you get, regardless of your level.
Why carry Animal? Animal is a rider-run and operated company in line with many principals I feel are successful factors in running a business. Believe in what you do, and to the best of your abilities; as Mike B. says, “O.D all day”. Tomorrow isn’t promised. Animal pays attention to what people want; no gimmicks, and delivers that. What else could you want from a BMX brand.
How many trends have you seen come and go since you have owned Tony’s? Many trends have come and gone since opening the shop. Some necessary, like bar height. One debates front-load or down-low stems, high seat or low seat, short back ends, low BB heights, tight pants or big pants, brakes or no brakes, yada yada. All of it pushes BMX in new directions and I’ve gotta say it’s all good . If it didn’t change and there weren’t trends, BMX would remain idle and wouldn’t appeal to as many, so in the end trends create riders, styles, bike setups and push the progression of the sport. Though sometimes it gets goofy, but I’m not a hater.
What is the best thing you gained or witnessed from owning the shop? Owning a shop has been no easy task and is constantly challenging me, but one of the greatest rewards is to make a living doing something I love and to be in a position to help others and breathe fresh air into a sport that has become a life passion. Seeing so many buy their first setup get hooked and become lifers like myself and watch them progress and watch the teacher and student roles reversed as they get others hooked on BMX.
If you can have one BMX product that doesn’t exist yet, what would it be? It would a time machine that only works for BMX’ers that allows them to turn the clock back as we get older during the periods of time we ride, so that we never have to slow down and could ride forever.
Final words? I’d really like to thank everyone for believing in me and supporting the shops. There are too many to list and you all know who you are.
Location: Milford, Connecticut and West Haven, Connecticut
Shop address: 108 Broad St., Milford 06460; 5 Ocean Ave., West Haven 06516
Hours: Check tonysbikes.com for individual store hours
Contact info: Milford: 203 878 5380; West Haven: 203 691 9294