As its name suggests, Jones Bicycle II isn’t the first bicycle venture by owner Benson Lam. In fact, Lam’s newest store comes from a surprisingly long lineage of bicycle stores across the Southern California region.
“The name Jones goes a long way back. It’s tied to the Long Beach area, and it was originally tied to F.W. Jones. We split from them in 2003 when I took over the business in San Marino,” Lam said. The San Marino store, Lam notes, was titled Jones Bicycle II as a nod to the original Jones I in Long Beach. When Lam moved to San Gabriel, he kept the name to maintain his longstanding offer of free life-time bicycle tune-ups. “We didn’t want to cause an uprising from people who have purchased bikes from us in the past, so we kept the name,” Lam said.
Lam, a life-long cycling hobbyist, originally got into the field after the constant encouragement of a high school friend, Paul. “Paul had a very odd obsession with bikes and specifically buying really expensive parts.” After his friend tragically committed suicide in 1985, Lam connected with Paul’s stepbrother and continued to push the hobby forward. “Like most people who are into hobbies, we wanted to find ways to support our interest.”
To support his hobby, Lam worked at Jones Bicycle as an employee and was eventually promoted to assistant manager after serving as the shop’s mechanic for several years. Soon, Lam offered to purchase the store in San Marino before making his move to San Gabriel. “The bicycle industry is changing. Most research and data has shown that the sweet spot is anywhere from 1500 square feet to 2500 square feet. Our new location in San Gabriel is roughly under 2000 square feet, which puts us in the sweet spot,” Lam said. Lam’s original store in San Marino was about a third larger.
To find that sweet spot, Lam moved his store to the heart of the Mission District, right near City Hall. “Finding this place was sort of a chance happening,” Lam notes. “This was our first choice, and it had everything we wanted, which was an open space with a blank slate.”
With the brick and mortar industry in a state of change, Lam hopes that his new location – coupled with excellent service and good-old-fashioned expertise – will help Jones Bicycle II succeed. “We try to pride ourselves in the fact that we’re friendly with honest opinions with the goal of servicing our customers,” Lam said.
In addition, Lam hopes to embrace industry trends by focusing on service and accessories rather than on pure sales. “We want to welcome those who traditionally do much of their shopping online by focusing on service with plenty of accessories. We have to try our best to give our customers great service with some of the best products that we can offer.”
Jones Bicycle II is located at 417 South Mission Drive in the heart of the Mission District.