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The Hub Bicycle Shop in Hespeler hitting the brakes on business

The local bike store is closing its doors after 20 years of operation

For 20 years The Hub Bicycle Shop has been a staple in the Hespeler core, serving residents with everything from new bikes to accessories, maintenance and repairs.

But that's set to end on Nov. 30 as tough economic times have claimed its latest business casualty.

Despite the range of emotions he's feeling right now, owner Clifford Vanclief looks back fondly on the beginning days.

After being part of a lay off at his job and meeting his wife not long after, the wheels began to turn on the bicycle shop in late 2003. 

"We decided we wanted to open a business but didn't know what," Vanclief said

"We looked at franchises and even looked out east. This store has been a bicycle and outdoor shop for 40 years. It was Hespeler Cycling in the 1980s and then Rivers and Trails. We knew it was closing, had conversations and decided to open The Hub."

And in March of 2004, the current version of the bicycle shop was born.

Vanclief has weathered a tough economy before, relying heavily on accessories and maintenance during the 2008 recession, but this time it's different.

While bicycles were in high demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, the market has become saturated and many newcomers to the activity are either unaware of the need to maintain their bikes or it's not yet necessary.

Add in rising interest rates and the cost of living forcing many to cut back their spending, it became no longer feasible to keep the doors open. 

Rather than trying to make it through another winter, Vanclief wants to go out on his own terms.

"Instead of being forced into a position to close, we made the decision to close ourselves," he said.

"We're not equipped to weather the economic forecast. We couldn't wait to see what the spring brought."

Hespeler BIA Executive Director Darren Jolley said any time a business is forced to close it's unfortunate, but especially when it's one owned by a community advocate like Vanclief.

"Hespeler people are passionate about their community and it was the shop to go to," Jolley said.

"It does leave a hole."

Jolley has also been a customer at The Hub for 12 years, taking his kids there to get their first bike without training wheels. He now hopes other businesses can step up and fill the big shoes that are left by Vanclief's departure. It's a tall task but one he believes the community can handle.

Cory de Villiers, chair of the BIA, echoes Jolley's sentiments and said The Hub provided much more to the area than just a local shop.

"Not only is Cliff and his business pillars and anchors to our community, The Hub brings in a lot of outside customers to The Village which helps to showcase all of our amazing restaurants, retail stores and services to a wider audience," de Villiers said.

"It’s a massive loss for our BIA but if there’s anything that the last several years have demonstrated it's that Hespeler and its businesses are resilient.  Recent business closures have been filled quickly by vibrant, passionate entrepreneurs that continually strive to offer exciting new products and services."

Aside from the bicycle shop, Ernie's Roadhouse is up for sale and The New York restaurant has switched hands recently, but it's not a worrying trend to either Jolley or de Villiers as both said the core has a very low vacancy rate.

As for Vanclief, he hopes he was able to make an impact in the community and is grateful for all the relationships he's built along the way.

"Our customers are amazing," he said.

"It's because of our customers we were able to carry on for 20 years. There's disappointment but excitement for a new chapter."

Nov. 18 is the last day for walk-in sales but accessories and parts can continue to be ordered at for the foreseeable future.