Nelson has a real passion for cycling; having raced as a junior at the age of 14 with the likes of George Hincapie and also having worked at a local bike shop Nelson quickly concluded that his opportunity in cycling would be in business and not in racing! At age 19, armed with a $21,000 passbook loan and a wife, Joanna, pregnant with their first son Bradley, Nelson opened Strictly Bicycles in a small 500 square storefront on Main Street in Fort Lee on a snowy day in February, 1994.
The first 5 years in business were a challenge; cycling, although a well-known sport in Europe, was not a popular sport in the US at that time, establishing credit for a new business in the early 1990’s posed a significant challenge, cyclists generally were considered, shall we say, less than sane – and so Nelson learned his first three valuable business lessons – cherish your great wife, follow your passion and differentiate yourself!
After five years, Strictly Bicycles moved to a somewhat larger location just up the street and right around that time Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France, single-handedly placing cycling front and center on the sports and fitness radar and created an interest in cycling on the part of the general public and also, more specifically for Nelson and Strictly Bicycles, caused more affluent people to become interested in purchasing high-quality road bikes.
Over the next 8 years Nelson, with his knowledge and passion for bikes and cycling, his ability to provide customers with high quality service as well as bikes for all levels of cyclists he built Strictly Bicycles’ reputation as one of the most well-respected bike shops in the NYC metropolitan area. Business growth and the need for a location that would better serve the needs of customers caused Nelson to begin to look for new space and the opportunity to purchase an abandoned restaurant property on Hudson Terrace about 1 mile north of the GWB. It was a big step as the property required rezoning, redevelopment, capital and two years but again, armed with a supportive wife and by this time two teenage children Nelson took on the project, found the proper attorneys and bankers and moved the business in January, 2009. This is where Nelson repeated his three valuable business lessons – cherish your great wife, follow your passion and differentiate yourself! This time he added a little nuance – Joanna came to work at the shop and is responsible for the bookkeeping and accounting, and keeping Nelson in line!
Since opening the business in its current location at 2347 Hudson Terrace in Fort Lee, Nelson and Joanna have focused on building community around the Strictly Bicycles brand and location, inspiring people to become part of the cycling community by: offering cyclists and cycling clubs the opportunity to utilize the shop’s location as a meeting point, supporting charity events like the Ride4Chai, and becoming the official NY area bike shop for Campagnolo Gran Fondo NY, a 100 mile bicycle race that attracts 5,000 cyclists from all 50 states and 70 countries.
Nelson, Joanna and all of the Strictly Bicycles staff would like to welcome all our existing and future customers to stop by the shop anytime they are interested in talking about cycling, having a coffee at the Benzel-Busch café located inside the shop, or feel like browsing the many brand of bicycles that are available for sale. Nelson’s passion for cycling has never diminished, he is still an avid cyclist and typically commutes to work on his bike, and on his days off can be found doing hill repeats at the Boat Basin, on Clausland or Bear Mountain!
video byEric Ryan Anderson for AMEX