From Legos to Wheels: How Blimp City Bike and Hike Was Born May 13th, 2016 words and photos by Ilenia Pezzaniti A carnivalesque popcorn machine sits beside the counter. Crotch-shaped seats cling to the wall nearby. Rows upon rows of bikes hang upside down like bats. Some stand tidily, their front wheels wedged between metal rods that keep them separated. A “Beware of Killer Dachshund!” sign is tacked to a back wall, despite there being no actual dog in sight. Blimp City Bike and Hike Bike Shop, a family business that’s relied mostly on word of mouth by Akron’s citizens, has a sense of playfulness, embodying the adventurous nature they propose. Their new building, located at 1675 Merriman Road, is much larger than the last, creating more room for more bikes and mechanic work. Owner Michael Purdy and General Manager Andy Bixenstine (from left to right) work well together in the bike business, creating a balanced team. Michael Purdy and Andy Bixenstein represent Akron more than a few times in their bike and hike shop. “My passion for Akron is to see it grow,” Andy said. It all started with Akronite Andy Bixenstine “skibummin’” in Vail, Colorado. Home for the summers, he’d work at Century Cycles in Medina, fueling his love for mechanical apparatuses. He’d take home “dead bikes”, aka donated bikes, and fix them up. “Growing up, I loved Legos. Disassemble. Reassemble. Do it as you’re supposed to or do it your own way. That kind of tinkering kinda just kinda fits. Then it goes along with the fact that I actually like cycling as well,” Andy said. Andy has over 30 bikes of his own. Ready to pursue his dream after working at other outdoor sports realms, Andy left his initial idea of combining a ski and bike shop, settling on two wheels. Now the General Manager, with the help of his stepfather and shop owner, Michael Purdy, they’ve been open for seven years. Michael, who worked as a North American sales rep traveling the country, “shopped around” bike shops the first few seasons. In October 2009, they found their first building. By Black Friday, doors opened in the Merriman Valley. Andy and Michael are proud to be located in Akron and want to see the city thrive. “Akron has a lot of potential and it’s a little painful to see how slow progress moves in this area but at the same time, my enthusiasm for bikes, my enthusiasm for skiing- I have the same enthusiasm for the potential this area has. After living in a resort city like Vail, an area that’s pretty walkable, you come back here and, you know, we’re very auto-centric. We’re behind the times on that kind of stuff. My passion for Akron is to see it grow.” General Manager Andy Bixenstine helps a veteran customer with a tube, giving him a brand new one at no cost. Andy Bixenstine works on a bike tube for a veteran customer. “The coolest part of my job? Well, it’s just playing with bikes all day instead of calling it work,” said General Manager Andy Bixenstine. With a small staff, the two of them plus a contracted mechanic, the guys can find busy season challenging, bringing in over 200 bikes, “Sometimes it’s a struggle to take care of everybody properly. And if you can’t do that, what’s the point? No matter how much money you make, if you can’t take care of people because they didn’t like your service they’re not coming back,” Andy said. “The nice thing is, it always works out. I think it’s because Michael and I make a good team. I keep it kinda enthusiastic, and he keeps it real. A good balance.” Michael’s favorite part is interacting with the customers, “I love coming in here every day,” he said. “The coolest part of the job? Well it’s just playing with bikes all day instead of calling it work,” Andy said. May is their busiest month. Pay them a visit at their new location. Ya buy a bike, ya get a free t-shirt. Blimp City Bike and Hike Bike Shop 1675 Merriman Road Akron, OH 44313 (330) 836-6600 blimpcitybikeandhike.com Tell your friends:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading... Related One Response Tom Bilcze May 15th, 2016 Great bike shop with super people who are so customer focused. t’s nice to see a local bike shop of this caliber in the city. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.