Name: Tyler Rowden
Overview: Rowden, 63, and his wife, Eddie, have owned the shop near Orange Avenue and 10th Street for 32 years. It’s the flagship of their trio of bike shops, the others being at the Coronado Ferry Landing (bought in the mid ’80s) and Beach Bikes and Beyond in San Diego (purchased last year).
Rowden works out of his office, located behind Holland’s, which consists of a small desk and computer surrounded on all sides by family photos and cards from his two daughters (both grown), surfing and cycling art, bikes, bike parts, helmets and accessories. Holland’s sells bikes and equipment, but also rents bikes for cruising around the community, as does Bikes and Beyond.
History: The store has been in the same location since 1924, originally operated by the Holland family as a hardware, toy and bike shop, says Rowden. In the 1950s it was Coronado’s main toy store, but continued to sell bikes. Then in 1969 it became solely a bike shop.
Photography or bikes? Rowden grew up in Chula Vista and often surfed Imperial Beach and Coronado. He worked at Holland’s from 1976-79, thanks to a surfing buddy who told him his dad – the store’s owner – was looking for help. When the store was up for sale in 1979, Rowden had a choice to make. He was an amateur photographer at the time and had planned on going to Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara. “My wife and I had to make a decision: go to Brooks or buy the store? We decided to buy the store and I’m glad we did.”
Pedaling along: Before working at Holland’s, Rowden was a cyclist. “I was always riding bikes,” he says, but he got seriously hooked while serving with the Army in Germany and doing some two-wheel touring. When he returned to the States, he did a ride from Salt Lake City to San Diego.
Did he know a lot about bikes when he started at Holland’s? “I thought I did,” he says. Almost 35 years later, he knows how much he didn’t know then. He still rides his bike to and from work each day, though the shop is only about a half-mile from his home. On weekends he likes to ride, but usually nothing longer than 20 miles.
The customers: People who buy bikes at Holland’s range from triathletes to parents looking for the first two-wheeler for a child. Rowden says their most expensive road bikes are in the $3,000 range, about mid-range for serious cyclists. They rented bikes to the Clintons when the president and first lady vacationed in Coronado. Former popcorn king Orville Redenbacher, who had a home nearby, used to pop into the shop on occasion.
Coping with the economy: Over the past few years the business has managed to cope in a down economy in part because of bike rentals. Rentals “are a really big part” of the operation of the two Coronado stores combined. Many people come over on the ferry with the specific intent of renting a bike to see the scenic city; guests at the Hotel del Coronado will walk over to Holland’s to rent a bike. “When the economy started getting bad, some people weren’t going long distances and instead were staying close to home,” Rowden says. “But our business picked up” as county residents decided on short hops to Coronado.
Family roles: Eddie does all the bookkeeping, advertising and marketing for the three stores and Tyler handles just about everything else – orders, sales and rentals and day-to-day business. One of their two daughters, Siena, 25, manages Beach Bikes and Beyond, while Tyler’s brother manages Bikes and Beyond.
The best parts: Rowden gets the most satisfaction out of helping novice cyclists find the right bike. His favorite customers? “The happy ones,” he says, laughing.
Quotable: “I must,” he says when asked if he likes his work. “I can’t think what else I’d do that I like as much, except not working at all.”