Familiar faces will once again retire into the everyday life of our community. There is no question that the words ‘You look so familiar,’ will now haunt Connie and Mel Sanguinetti as they wait in line at the grocery store or sit in a corner booth waiting to eat lunch. If nothing else they’re sure to be stopped by a parent or two stating ‘We bought our bikes from you for years.’
The Sanguinettis dedicated 36 years of their lives to the Oakdale Bicycle Shop located at 445 E. F St. in Oakdale. Saturday, Sept. 29 was their last day of business at the shop, which now has a new owner.
I am not eluded by the fact that the bike shop was and still is a business. In the day and age of recession, big box stores and on-line shopping, yet somehow this business is a bit different. When a couple dedicates 36 years of their life to one sole entity it deserves to be recognized.
Personally I have never been a customer of Oakdale Bicycle Shop. My closest affiliation to the shop would be that my children’s father was once one of the names on the ‘Waiting List’ of persons interested in buying the successful business.
A few years back when their father lost his job, work was limited and hard to find. As a Veteran we began looking at programs and opportunities that he might be able to capitalize on. Starting a business was one of them. The bike shop interested him, but Mel wasn’t ready. So his name joined a host of others in hopes that the others would drop off. That did not come to pass.
I still recall returning to our office and sharing with a few peers how much respect I had for people who were so dedicated and passionate about what they do. There aren’t a lot of businesses in this day and age with ‘Wait Lists’ of interested buyers. The Sanguinettis was, but no one would have ever known.
Their success did not transcend arrogance, increased prices or cavalier service. The bike shop was their life, their livelihood and their passion.
As I grow older I slowly am learning to accept that indeed ‘things change’ and ‘all good things must come to an end.’
While I have no doubt that the new owner will continue the tradition of superior service, this still marks an end of an era.
I first learned of the sale a little over a month ago and began sharing with friends immediately. As I shared, the stories followed. Friends who are natives of this town who received their first bike from Mel and had continued the tradition with their children. Friends who frequented the shop for tire repair and tune-ups and those who shared a love for bikes (just like the Sanguinettis).
Mel himself even shared a story with me of a customer who came in not that long ago, “He said he bought his first bike from me in 1976 shortly after we opened and thought it only seemed right he return for one last purchase.”
In a day and age where ‘Customer Service’ is not just hard to find, but almost impossible to define, customers respond to businesses (to people) which make them feel special. This would be the 36 year secret of Oakdale Bicycle Shop.
Their departure however, does not come without emotion. Sanguinetti confided that indeed a few tears have been shed as customers have popped in to bid them a farewell and wish them all the best. Thirty-six years of doing anything in a town of this size has to be hard to walk away from.
That’s the tough part of ‘change,’ recognizing what we selfishly want for ourselves versus the overall benefit to the other party. This couple has more than earned this retirement. It is their turn to be at the top of their list, free of business worry. Free to ride their own bikes when and if they choose to.
As a customer of the hair salon just a few doors down, I’ll miss seeing Mel in the parking lot situated behind the shop and H-B as a customer takes a ‘test’ drive. I’ll miss their dedication to placing their own personal American Flag out on the sidewalk every morning. I’ll even miss the Minnie and Mickey they placed in their window display each Valentine season.
So there it is, a community member who was never a customer but was still somehow touched by two people just doing ‘business’ dedicated to what they loved: people and bicycles.
However I won’t take the last word on this one. I’ll leave that to Mel who penned a poem of sorts to convey the thoughts of himself and Connie. Thank you, Sanguinettis, for taking this town for a great ride.
“Thanks for the Memories”
It was back in 1976 when our little bike shop came to town.
Across from A&W Root Beer, you might remember, if you were around.
A little converted gas station, next to Bernie Walkers used car lot.
That old tin building was kinda cold in winter, come summer time it got a little hot.
We were there for a couple of years, then we moved on down the street.
Air conditioning and a stove, next to the H-B…now that’s sweet.
A lot of years have gone by since 1976.
Thanks to those stinkin’ “goat heads” we had a lot of flat tires to fix.
Well that’s one part we won’t miss, we honestly have to say
It’s all the wonderful people that we met along the way.
We sure do appreciate your support, now we’d like to propose a toast
Thanks for the memories, you’re all what we’ll miss the most.
Mel and Connie
Teresa Hammond is circulation manager for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.