In 83 years of trading, the family behind Ted’s Cycles shop in Footscray have seen more ups and downs than a Tour de France rider.
They have held on through some rocky times, from the opening of Highpoint Shopping Centre in 1975 to the rise of cheap online competitors, and computer games that divert kids from riding bicycles.
Co-owner Trevor Hope says that with the boom in commuter and mountain bike riding Ted’s sales figures are actually healthy.
It’s soaring land tax that has forced the clan — including Trevor, 63, his brother Geoff, 78, and Geoff’s children Gerlinda Gibbs, 52, and Garry Hope, 48 — to close one of Footscray’s last old-time family shops.
Their final day of trading is this Friday.
‘‘There was no light at the end of the tunnel,’’ says Trevor, who says land tax has gone up by 50 per cent in four years.
‘‘With insurances, superannuation, wages, [business taxes] … it’s so hard to keep up, to make ends meet.’’
Gerlinda, Ted's Cycles' front-of-house and accounts person, expects to ‘‘cry all day’’ on Friday.
She started selling toys as a teenager and has been full time for 34 years.
Since her late, charismatic grandfather, Ted Hope, aka Ted the Toyman, started the shop in 1936, it has cannily morphed from a focus on hardware, to toys to bicycles, although it has always sold bicycles in some form.
‘‘I’m devastated and shattered,’’ said Gerlinda, who will miss her chats with locals.
One couple – ‘‘lovely old souls’’ – were hoarders and the man was obsessed with bikes. ‘‘He’d say he wanted to buy another one and we’d say, ‘You don’t need one.’ ’’
Another cyclist pedalled her elderly mother around Footscray. The mother would sit in a rocking chair on a trailer and knit.
One man treated his bike like a horse, complete with saddle and bridle, kicking it if it misbehaved.
The interaction hasn’t always been nice. One day in the 1980s Trevor ran after and tackled a drug addict who had pinched $500 from the till. The thief bit Trevor on the shoulder and said he had AIDS. In fact, he had hepatitis B.
Geoff Hope remembers Footscray in the 1950s and `60s, as a thriving community with at least three cinemas; the Forges and Coles department stores; cafes, pharmacies and clothes, fruit and butcher shops.
Remnants include Cooper’s jewellers, and barber Joe Squatrito, who have both traded for more than 50 years.
Customer Andrew Filippone, 41, of Maribyrnong, who stopped by Ted’s on Friday to buy a tyre, a cleaning brush and pedal clips for his racing bike, said he bought his first bike here – a BMX – at the age of seven.
Ted's hangar-like size meant ‘‘it was one of the only bike shops you could test-ride your bike around’’.
He idolised Garry Hope, who was known for his stunt jumps on the Spotswood half-pipe.
Mr Filippone's own IT business went from a physical shop to online three years ago, but he was ‘‘gobsmacked’’ and saddened to hear Ted’s was closing.