Duke's is Closing- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Duke's is Closing

    For those cyclists familiar with Duke's and may not know... the store is closing after 105 years in business!
    Here is the article posted in today's the Toronto Star:

    Gary Duke is closing Duke’s Cycle, his family-run shop of 105 years

    Gary Duke was groomed to take the reins of the Queen West storefront his grandfather opened roughly 105 years ago.

    “I knew I was going to take it over since day one,” said the owner of Duke’s Cycle, the third generation to run the shop.
    Duke's is Closing-kzjoozm.jpg

    Now, he is preparing to end this chapter of his family’s story that saw the store at 625 Queen St. W. transition from his grandfather’s one-stop shop during the First World War, into a handful of stores run by his father in its 1960s heyday, to a dedicated cycling shop under his watch in the ’80s. It would even survive a fire in 2008 that gutted the building, with Gary rebuilding and reopening the store in the same location three years later.

    But now Gary, 63, confesses he just can’t keep up with a marketplace where online sales and a proliferation of bicycle shops has eaten away profit margins and what little competitive drive he had left.

    He said his daughters aren’t interested in taking over the family business, and his oldest grandchild is 8, so “I can’t wait.”


    “I’m not retiring, I’m just tired,” says Gary, as the March 1 deadline to close shop looms. “I’ve been doing it for 45 years myself.”

    Keeping the heritage alive was “probably why I stuck around as long as I have. I didn’t want it to end.”

    The Duke’s Cycle story began in 1912, when Gary’s grandfather, Felix Alexander Duke, a Polish immigrant, started selling washing machines on Spadina Ave. In 1914, Felix relocated to the Queen St. location, where he expanded his inventory and branded the store as Duke’s Sporting Goods

    Duke's is Closing-xxiztj9.jpg

    “They sold everything they could because war happened and things were short,” Gary said.

    Felix ran the business and raised the next generation of owners right there.


    My dad was born above the store,” Gary said with a chuckle. “You lived and worked in the same place.”

    Gary’s father, Henry Duke, took over the shop after the Second World War. By the late-1950s, Henry expanded the scope of what the business offered, carrying fishing, camping, skiing and hunting gear.

    By the 1950s the brand had morphed into Duke’s Cycle and Radio Ltd. (which remains its official corporate title), evolving towards a department store model. It was the era of the transistor radio.

    “You kind of did what the community needed,” Gary said. Business was booming.

    It was around this time, the Dukes started to grow their stock of bicycles.

    “In the late 1960s there was the first big boom,” he said. “The older-styled bicycle were 3-speed and they weren’t fancy. Now these 10-speed bikes come out and it was really cool stuff. It became trendy.”

    At its height, in the 1960s, the business occupied four storefronts on Queen St., offering everything from records, to stereos, sporting goods, furniture and appliances.

    By the time Gary was being prepped to take the helm in the mid-1980s, a proliferation of specialty stores forced the family to narrow their focus.

    “People started to move out to the suburbs,” Gary said. “The money left, so I started paring down all the sporting goods.”

    He said, “bicycles really took off in late 1970s,” and he capitalized on the boom.

    By the late 1980s, Gary was fully in charge and making Duke’s into a name to be reckoned with in bicycle sales. “We started to sell 3,500 bicycles per year,” he said.

    “When mountain bikes came into play, that started the second boom of more athletic style of riding,” he said. “It was the heyday.

    “We were doing fine up until the fire,” he said.

    In February, 2008, a fire destroyed the store and several other buildings along that stretch of Queen St. While other shops that burned down relocated, Gary held out — opening up temporarily on Richmond St. — before reconstructing a new store in the same location, which opened in 2011.

    Duke's is Closing-iavmxej.jpg

    The strain of rebuilding the store coupled with a changing consumer appetite towards high-end bikes pushed Gary to rethink the store’s fate.

    Bikes once sold for $200 to $1,200 in the late 1980s, but were now ranging from $400 to in excess of $6,000.

    The cost of acquiring inventory grew with customer demand. Meanwhile, more cycling shops popped up around the city.

    “The level of the game increased,” Gary said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t a leader in the road category,” which now dominates much of the customer appetite.

    “There is a plethora of bicycle shops,” he said. “The industry isn’t growing. It has been stagnant for the past few years.”

    Gary grew increasingly restless even though the business was eking out a profit.

    “The money wasn’t an issue,” he said “The passion had gone away.”

    Now, he’s handing the shop over to a new owner, who will continue under a different name at the location.

    “I’m not at privilege to say too much,” he said. “There will be a continuation.”

    He still owns the rights to the name Duke’s Cycle, but wants to walk away on his own terms. He hasn’t decided where to take his future yet, but hinted at dabbling in real estate and construction.

    “It’s kind of an hiatus,” he said. “If one of my family members had a great idea I would look at it again. I’m just retiring from the bicycle business. I’m going to continue doing other things.”












    sauce https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/201...105-years.html
    F*ck Cancer

    Eat your veggies

  2. #2
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    That sucks, never been there but still hate to see doors closing

  3. #3
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    As a kid I lived a couple blocks away. First time in the store was with my dad to buy a pair of skates. They had a great skate exchange program. We didn’t have a lot of money, so off to dukes to get a pair of used ones. As I got older I was in the store a lot as I had a thing for breaking bikes. Gary and his staff were always willing to help out. Gary even took me in the back once to show me how to true a wheel.

    He bacame a bit of a local celebrity when he was in a Mars bar commercial. Great memories of a great local store.

  4. #4
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    I managed to find his commercial on YouTube. Blast from the past for us older folks.

    https://youtu.be/yXq8TqxHR6g

  5. #5
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    There is a Duke's (Duke's Source for Sports) in Etobicoke still.
    3876 Bloor St W, close to where I live.
    Run by another family member of the Duke's family tree, and has been in business since at least the 50's. However, looking at the name, it could have been sold out as well.
    They now focus on hockey equipment, and appear to sell only family bikes in the summer.
    SUCCESS - To be able to spend life in your own way

  6. #6
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    It's reopening as a Trek Store.

    Interesting since Trek left Toronto proper when they closed the Yonge and Eglinton store (which is now Skiis and Biikes)
    Mike
    Toronto, Canada
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  7. #7
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    ^ I remember that Trek store!

    There is a Giant store nearby on the north side of Queen & Palmerston
    F*ck Cancer

    Eat your veggies

  8. #8
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    Now known as Trek Bicycle Queen West
    2008 Trek Fuel EX 8
    Apsley, Ontario, Canada

  9. #9
    X-Ray Guy
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    Quote Originally Posted by revrnd View Post
    Now known as Trek Bicycle Queen West
    Theyve had some pretty aggressive advertising/promotions going on to get some foot traffic in the doors. Giveaways, giftcards and such

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