Bumstead’s Bicycles turns 100

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Today’s column is about Bumstead’s Bicycles, the Ontario bike shop with the funny name and the distinguished pedigree. Founded in 1909, the store is the city’s second-oldest business, after Graber Olive House.

Bumstead’s is celebrating its centennial on Saturday with a 10 a.m. to evening party at the shop, 1038 W. 4th St. (at Mountain), and with a sale Dec. 4 to 6.

They’d like old-time customers to stop by to say hello and reminisce. In the meantime, or if you can’t make it Saturday, how about reminiscing right here on my blog? Click “comments” to share your memories of the shop.

The photo at left shows fourth-generation owner Lloyd Bumstead in his shop on Wednesday. He took the business over in 1986 at age 23.

Below is a view of the 420 N. Lemon Ave. location circa 1960 when Bumstead’s sold sporting goods as well as bicycles. The store was on Lemon from 1960 to 1986 before its move to 4th Street.

Happy 100th, Bumstead’s!

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  • Rose Linck

    Ah…..Bumstead’s! From tyke trike to bike, from bats to balls, my family purchased all bicycles and sporting goods from Bumstead’s from 1960-1978.

    Upon entering the store there was the unmistakable smell of rubber. You knew where you were. Because of my fascination with taking things about and seeing how they work, I always made sure I wandered on by the repairman to watch him tinker! And because I created a domino effect with the bikes on one occasion, it was decreed that I “shall not touch” the bikes anymore.

    Bumstead’s is an institution that I hope never leaves Ontario!

  • Dave Linck

    I loved your great Bumstead’s article, and learned so much as well about my old fave sporting goods store.

    As an Ontario lad, Bumstead’s was my go-to store for all my Little League stuff. I recall getting my first mitts, stockings, sliding pads, cleats, shoes, bats, balls and…gulp!…an athletic supporter with cup! That last one was quite perplexing for a 9-year-old to comprehend.

    Bumstead’s was an institution in downtown and it is sad to read that it had to move four times. I do also recall the amount of guns n’ ammo displayed in the old Bumstead’s on Lemon. It looked like people were preparing for WWIII.

    Henry, the movie production designer Bumstead, just passed away. He worked on many films for Clint Eastwood in his last years. Always a class act, as is the store that bears his surname.

  • Linda Frost

    Just about everything else is gone from the old days, but Bumstead’s is one constant. My older brother bought his bicycle for his Daily Report paper route there. He even won a watch from the newspaper for being an outstanding carrier. It is one of the old icons like Drew Carriage, Graber’s and Armstrong Nursery. Their loss saddens and diminishes us in some way. I wish Bumstead’s another successful hundred years and all the memories that will come with them.

    [You do know Graber's is still around, right? -- DA]

  • Pat Flinn

    I, too, grew up in Ontario. I remember Bumstead’s for a couple or few reasons.

    Lemon Avenue, in Ontario above G Street, ended at the driveway of the house I grew up in. My sister and I attended Central School which was on Sultana at G Street and through to H Street. Bumstead’s was located about two blocks south of our home.

    My sister, Mary Jane, was a classmate of “a Bumstead boy.”

    Later in my life — and everyone else’s life — my father bought a factory building where he made grommets for the grading machines at Sunkist. With all that space he began to think of other things to make. (His day job was manager of the Trademark & Patent Division of Sunkist.) He had a few of his own inventions patented and/or trademarked along the way. He began to make Billy Boy Stilts (trademark) that were painted bright red, had the brand burned into them, and came in three sizes — short, medium and tall or maybe low, medium and high. The sizes referred to how far above the ground the block for your foot was.

    Now Bumstead’s comes into the picture! For a time Billy Boy stilts were sold at Bumstead’s on Lemon Avenue. As an aside, at the plant, as we called it, on Mission Blvd. where he made them, he put a mechanical Billy Boy using stilts on top of the front facade of the building as advertisement. Kind of a fun memory. Thanks for bringing it to mind.

  • Linda Frost

    Thanks for catching that for me. My comments were unclear. Yes, Armstrong Nurseries is still around — owned by a corporation. They still have a reputation for excellence. I was talking about when the nursery was on Euclid, and John Armstrong ran it. Their home was where the Christian Science church is now located. They even moved their growing and experimental acreage from South Ontario to Carlsbad.

    [Didn't I say Graber's, not Armstrong's? -- DA]

  • Jerry Title

    Well, I guess I’m the old man of the group. My folks bought me a Bumstead bike for my 7th birthday. That was in 1936 from the store on B Street. I spent many Saturday mornings at the shop, just hanging out, or waiting for a flat tire to be fixed. My “gang” (3 of us) had a routine. Ride our bikes to the fire station on south Euclid, then over to Bumsteads, then to Gemmel’s Drug Store for a chocolate coke (5 cents) at the fountain, then home (Campus and F street area). Now that was real “livin”.

    [Thanks for the memories, "old man" (ha ha). -- DA]

  • Evelyn Cloyd

    From the front windows of the picture, it looks like that was when Dick and Helen either got engaged or married. Dick and I were in a sales class at Chaffey High School — but with his family history I doubt that he needed a sales class!

  • Joan Epperson Sullivan

    As lifelong resident of Ontario, my brother and I used to love to walk downtown, in the late ’40s, and Bumstead’s on B Street was always one of our stops. Bought my first bike from there, with $40 worth of dimes that had been saved in a silver metal bank. It was turquoise and called a Rollaway, I believe. Bought three 10-speeds for my teenage children in the l970s. Fell in love with a yellow beach cruiser in 2003, and still love riding it.

    Thanks, Bumstead’s, for all the memories.

    [And thank you for yours, Joan. -- DA]

  • Bob House

    Great post David. It’s interesting to read others’ bike shop memories — there are not many of those around for today’s kids.

    Growing up in Claremont, I was a Bud’s Bike Shop kid. Just east of College on First St. from the early ’50s, the location is still a bike shop, but Bud passed away long ago. I got my “Progress Bulletin” delivery route bike at Bud’s and was in many times for repairs. Bud once told me how funny he thought it was, in a college town like Claremont, when a kid would come in with a bike seat too low and ask Bud to “higher my seat.” Our daily routine as “Prog” carriers included cherry Cokes and fries at the Village Grill or Bubble Up and a Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy at Mr. Smith’s Market (current site of Espiau’s).

  • Linda Frost

    Yes, you did.

    [Oh. -- DA]

  • Dave Taylor

    I painted my parents’ patio in exchange for a Schwinn Varsity 10 speed purchased at Bumstead’s. The patio was almost all lattice and slats, thought I’d never get it finished. Used that bike to deliver the Daily Report and fill in for The Progress Bulletin at times. Later on I rode with a group from San Simeon to Los Angeles over an Easter week.

    But, don’t forget, Bumstead’s was the only place we knew of that had the school PE uniforms. Oh yes kiddies. We actually wore PE uniforms. Also, Drew Carriage is still in business in Montclair. They mostly sell automotive paint and body shop products but is the original.

  • Randy Potter

    I remember Bumsteads well. I did a whole lot of dreaming wandering through that store. All my days there I probably bought only a flat bicycle wrench…a tube for a flat tire…and a leather pouch for a few tools that attached to my bicycle seat. Everyone there was always patient with me…answered all my questions…and let me dream. Beautiful bikes…I saw the first Schwinn “Sting Ray”…I wanted that so much.

    Also, now I remember…I bought high rise handlebars and the tape to wrap them with for a better grip. Bouncing a basketball…holding an official hardball…trying on baseball gloves. What a great store and what great people to allow my wishing. For my 13th birthday…my parents bought me a brand new 3 speed bike…from Bumsteads. Wow…I returned and continued my looking for years to come. Thank you Bumstead’s!

  • Richard Ruiz

    I grew up in Ontario and Bumsteads is where my best friend and I would go and look at all the new BMX bikes we could not afford :) This place brings back great memories of the 80′s and the GT Performer’s I used to dream about. I think we did all the same things all the kids before us did, head to Bumsteads, shoot over to Gemmel’s and don’t forget the news stand!

    I lost my Father recently and remember the time our family went to Bobs Big Boy on Euclid and G. It was a real treat for us to go and it is now a very special memory I have of my Dad. Anyway, thanks to everyone for sharing their great stories and allowing me to share mine!

    God Bless