JOHN DAY – In business since April, Russ Comer and Joe Hittle of Fossil Shift Bike Shop are enjoying the opportunity to serve Grant County bicyclists even if it’s on a part-time basis. Neither was willing to give up their day jobs but that’s okay.
“We’ve got a rotating schedule,” said Comer. “Joe is usually here one day a week and I’m here Saturdays from 10 to 3, or you can call either one of us and make an appointment.”
Their location next door to the John Day Chamber of Commerce has been home to a bike shop in recent years. Local resident Mike Cosgrove first opened the bike repair shop and then handed it over to Value Added. Now it’s Comer’s and Hittle’s turn, as they not only look forward to continuing the tradition of serving bicyclists in the John Day area but expanding the business as well.
Currently, in addition to bike repairs, Fossil Shift performs tune-ups and offers used bicycles and consignment bikes for sale.
“It’s a good part-time business to be in but the cyclists that come through aren’t enough to sustain it as a full-time business,” said Hittle.
Down the road, the two are looking to add general outdoor goods to the mix, including running gear, hydration needs and apparel. For the time being, the focus is to build up their parts inventory in order to better serve customers.
Comer points to the first dollar bill the business earned that is posted on a wall and says with a laugh, “If we stopped ordering parts, we might have another dollar in the bank to match it.”
The dream, of course, is to make a profit and grow the business.
“I enjoy the mechanic aspect of the business and am just happy to serve the community,” said Comer.
Ditto for Hittle.
“We do a little bit of everything and our goal is to get customer bikes in and out as soon as possible,” Hittle added.
In their spare time, which there isn’t a whole lot of, both enjoy recreational riding.
“I try to get out, but not as much as I’d like too… it’s hard,” Hittle, the father of two young children, said.
A weekend or two ago, Comer got over to the Bend area and tried out the bike park at Mt. Bachelor. Locally, his favorites are the N. Fork Mahheur trail and the Bates State Park/Ritter Hot Springs ride.
The business partners hope to see more bicycle paths come to Grant County in the not-so-distant future, especially for younger riders, an important segment of the overall market. To help foster enthusiasm for the sport among younger riders, Fossil Shift, in cooperation with the Oregon Department of Transportation, helps promote ODOT’s bike safety program and offers helmets for sale.
To schedule an appointment, one can call either Comer at 541-620-0014, or Hittle at 541-620-4067. Feel free to leave a message; one or both will get back to you.
“Customer satisfaction is very important to us,” said Comer.