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Vision: To create a group for community members focused on exercising and biking to help them get back to a healthier lifestyle
Many of us have probably made the common New Year’s resolution to exercise more and eat healthier in 2011 - well, I am one of them, and as I am not much of a jogger, I decided it was time to get back in shape by riding my bike.
On one of my frequent trips to Uptown Whittier, I had noticed a bike shop right off of Whittier Boulevard and Bright, and decided to pay them a visit to get a tune-up for my old bike, which was in a state of terrible disrepair, suffering from years of horrible neglect ...
Karina's Pro Bicycles, 13101 Whittier Blvd., Whittier, CA
While the gentleman behind the counter was taking down my information, I took a stroll through the store to look at all the different bikes they had on display. I must admit, I claim total ignorance when it comes to bikes – and it was refreshing to listen to the gentleman tell me all about the different models and styles. Even after my tenth ignorant question, he was still really friendly and very patient with me. And here’s what really impressed me – during all that time, not a single sales pitch! The entire conversation was simply focused on service and on educating me about bicycles.
It was such a great experience that I decided to dig a little deeper – and the story behind it was even more impressive than my first visit ...
Behind the name “Karina’s Pro Bicycles” are three young entrepeneurs and bike aficionados: Sandra Karina Villarruel and Jose Velasquez (husband and wife), and their close friend, Daniel Hernandez. All three have a mutual dream – to bring excitement not just about bicycles but fitness in general to the community.
Sandra Villarruel, the driving force behind the opening of the store, grew up around bikes with her dad owning his first bike shop in Mexico and then opening another one in East LA (Martin's Bike Shop) after immigrating to the US. Sandra started racing professionally early on with the LA Wings and later joined her father’s racing team, Martin’s Pro Cycling Team. Jose and Daniel are also avid cyclists as well as experienced mechanics (Sram certified).
Karina’s Pro Bicycles is not one of the huge, commercial chain stores, but it has a large variety of bikes – even though they specialize in high-end performance bikes (featuring brands like Orbea, Bianci, KHS, Felt, and Fuji) and components (such as Shimano, Sram and Campagnola), they also have a solid display of children’s and recreational bikes (like the popular cruisers) in all price ranges, and you will also be able to find biking outfits, shoes, helmets and other gear you might need.
When I asked them what their goal was, the answer was not to become the biggest store in town but rather this: “We really enjoy the personal contact with our customers. Many of the big companies lose focus of what truly counts, and that is to make the customer happy. We are all about family and want to provide everybody with exceptional service.”
And keeping true to this statement, their next big project is to get the community involved in biking and exercising in general, to get back to a healthier lifestyle. Even though Sandra, Jose, and Daniel are experienced riders, they are aiming to provide activities for all levels, including families with children. If you are interested in joining the group, please call the store directly at 562-693-8073 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. I know I'll be joining them!