NORTH HAMPTON — The sign, for the longest time said, "Be Back Soon."
The new message now hanging outside of Gus' International Bicycle Shop states, "Now Open."
Bicyclist Jeff Latimer of Rye, reopened the store, also called Gus' Bike Shop, on Thursday, Dec. 18 and people began coming in immediately, he said.
Gus' has been on Route 1 in North Hampton since 1971.
"So far, it's been great," Latimer said. "I'm amazed at the traffic we're getting. We have a fair number of regulars."
The shop closed in September after the death of its second owner, John Bocko, of North Hampton, who died at age 57 in May 2007.
Latimer bought the shop from Bocko's widow, Deborah Bocko.
Latimer's made a few changes, painting the interior a pale yellow and adding a bright orange wall near the children's section. He plans to add tables for riders to sit and rest before and after rides. The shop is just around the corner from Atlantic Avenue, a popular riding route to the ocean.
Latimer has a background in retail and commercial real estate.
"I've been a passionate bike rider since college," he said. "I saw the shop was closing. It's been here 31 years."
Turning his passion into his vocation has been fun, he said. The shop has a loyal following.
"It's amazing," Latimer said. "We put out the sign, 'Now Open' and people started turning into the parking lot."
The store specializes in the Felt and Raleigh lines. For Christmas, Latimer has been selling children's bicycles as well as high-end professional carbon fiber racing bikes.
Those who love the sport ride in the snow, Latimer said. And the recession somewhat helps bike sales, as people see the benefit of an alternative to high gas prices.
Commuter bikes, sporting a rack to hold a brief case or pocketbook, and a cup holder on the handle bar, are popular, he said.
Returning to the shop are longtime employees Gerri Mullavey and master mechanic Craig Rollins.
Another tradition is the shop dog. Latimer brings Tex, his Brittany spaniel, with him to work.
Belgian rider Gustave Van Cauwenberghe founded Gus' International Bicycle Shop in 1971. At age 77, Gus was still winning U.S. national titles, according to www.gusbike.com. One of his stars and stripes national championship jerseys still hangs in the shop.
His photo is also there, a reminder to the shop's third owner of the tradition he carries forward.