HANFORD — For the first time in many years, it looks like Kings County will have a dedicated bicycle shop for sales, service and parts.
Fulton Cycle Works, formerly located in downtown Fresno, is planning to move into a vacant storefront in the Vendome building in downtown Hanford.
The grand opening is set for June 30, according to owner Darren Johnson.
Johnson said he was spurred to choose Hanford after four break-ins at the shop in Fresno this spring alone.
He said he already been eyeing Hanford as a second location. Tired of the vandalism, he decided to pull up stakes and move the whole operation to Kings.
The logic is simple: Bill's Bicycle Shop, the last bike store in Kings County, closed on 11th Avenue in 2007. Since then, cycling enthusiasts have had to make the trek to Visalia or Fresno for hands-on assistance.
"It's a market that's completely underserviced," Johnson said. "There are zero bike shops in Hanford and Lemoore. It's a big population base. I feel like Kings is big enough to support its own shop."
A few doors down in the Vendome, Jeannine Brasil, owner of Gigi's Boutique, said it'll be "awesome" to see Fulton Cycle Works arrive.
"I think it's going to help bring some business to the building," said Brasil, who is planning to close down sometime this summer.
Brasil said there isn't enough foot traffic downtown to keep her doors open.
Johnson thinks his store will pull in bike riders from all over Hanford, Lemoore and the rest of Kings. He said there was "zero" foot traffic at the downtown Fresno spot.
"My business has never been foot-traffic dependent," he said. "If people need a bike shop, they'll seek us out."
Johnson plans to offer a wide variety of parts as well as a repair service.
"The internet doesn't fix bikes," he said.
Bob Sharp, a member of the family that owns the Vendome, is optimistic about Johnson's chances.
"I know he had a very solid following in Fresno," Sharp said. "I think he has a pretty good comfort factor in Hanford."
Johnson said he's more confident about the security of the Vendome location than he was about his Fresno storefront.
"I've had several visits from Police Chief Parker Sever already," he said. "Just response times alone — We're a block away from the police station."
Johnson said he'll gear his product line to whatever the local market demands while continuing to offer service and parts for different types of cycling, including road, commuter and BMX.
"I like [having] a lot of choices," he said.
Johnson's intention to open up in Hanford is music to the ears of local cyclists.
"Years ago, when there was a bike shop in Lemoore, it was a meeting place and a social place," said Lisa Munoz, president of the Kings County Velo Club. "I think it's going to breathe life into downtown."
"We are so excited," Munoz said. "[Johnson] really wants to be part of the community. We've already discussed starting and ending rides at his shop."