Merokean Michael Hammer was in the clothing industry for eight years, in sales for such companies as Men’s Warehouse and Saks Fifth Avenue, before a recession struck after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Saks’s sales plummeted –– and so did its staff.
As the last one in at Saks, Hammer, who is now 37, was laid off, which forced him to think hard about what he truly wanted to do for a living. He knew he loved sales –– and he loved bicycles. And so he went to work as a salesman at bike shops in Garden City and Mineola, building a deep knowledge of bicycle hardware –– and how to run a cycling shop.
This year, Hammer fulfilled a long-held dream to start his own shop when he recently opened Merrick Bicycles on Merrick Avenue in central Merrick with his brother-in-law, Dan Yuricic, also of Merrick. Two months ago, Hammer married to his wife, Guz, who helps out at the shop.
Yuricic, 40, who is in healthcare consulting and is married with children to Hammer’s sister, Lisa, is heavily involved in the community as a Little League coach. As such, he saw the great number of highly active kids there are across the area. “He felt there was enough of a children’s presence here,” Hammer said. “The void in Merrick was a neighborhood bike shop.”
And so the two decided to make a go of it.
Hammer said he spent months researching and securing distribution agreements with top bicycle makers such as Fuji, Felt, Bianchi, BMC, Haro, Del Sol and Masi. Whatever cycle he might not have in the shop, he can order from the manufacturer and have it in the store within two days. Prices range from $129 to $429 for youth bicycles to $599 to $7,000 for road bikes.