Last week, 72 years after Vera Chown bought her first (and last) bike from a Duncan bike shop, she joined her daughter Shirley Hovind at Experience Cycling so the latter could pick out a bike to ride during her retirement.
While Hovind was busy kicking the tires on a new ride, Chown and Experience Cycling owner Will Arnold got to talking.
It turned out Chown, now in her 90s, had purchased her bike from E.P. Phillips in 1941.
At the time Phillips Bicycle and Tire was at 149 Canada Ave. in downtown Duncan.
Phillips later sold the business to his longtime employee Arnold Williams, who renamed the shop Williams Sporting Goods in 1956.
The store’s address moved around town over the years and owners came and went until Will Arnold bought out his partner in 1995 and renamed the shop Experience Cycling.
Their names are not the only thing similar about former owner Arnold Williams and current owner Will Arnold.
Their stories are too.
Both men had paper routes. Both started working for the bike shop when they were 13 and both bought the store from their boss at age 30.
Chown liked that story. “You’re kidding,” she said. “History repeats itself.”
The shop’s long history meant Arnold had a special treat for Chown.
“I’ve got the books!” he told her. Together the pair flipped through the handwritten ledger of sales made between 1936 and 1944 until they found her name.
There it was, in faded ink Chown’s purchase.
Back in 1941, her brand new bicycle cost $52.
“Opening the book up and finding her on that page,” Arnold said. “I thought it was so neat.”
Chown was thrilled at the impromptu walk down memory lane.
“I would never have known any of this if I hadn’t come with my daughter,” she grinned.
Sarah Simpson / The Citizen
August 8, 2013