EZE Ryders rolls into Point Loma
Spring of 2020 might not have seemed like the best time to launch a new business, but for Devin Raymond , the timing proved to be perfect.
Raymond was working in the logistics industry in Los Angeles, but when his girlfriend accepted a position at UC San Diego, they moved here at the end of 2019. At the time, his plan was to pursue a job in the same industry, but of course, 2020 had other plans.
“With the pandemic, a lot of companies stopped hiring,” Raymond said during a phone interview. “I had a side business in the electric bike industry for the past couple years; it was my side hustle. Effectively, I was selling bikes out of our garage. It was a fun thing to do, and a way to make a little extra money. So once the (logistics) jobs dried up last year, I pivoted into working more on this, and then it just so happened that bikes, especially e-bikes, became the hottest ticket item of the year.”
Bicycles and e-bicycles were one of the few industries that boomed during the pandemic. People suddenly found themselves with lots of time on their hands and, with gyms closed to stop the spread of the virus, the need for alternative forms of exercise was high.
“It was an odd confluence of events where the e-bike industry was growing to begin with, and the pandemic just threw gas on the whole business,” Raymond said. “It was honestly difficult to keep up last year, with everything going on. We had a lot of problems with production delays and shipping delays, and they’re still continuing now, which would probably be the biggest challenge to our business.”
He explained that because of the pandemic and the stay-at-home orders, which limited activities that people could do, biking became a natural solution for reliable transportation and exercise.
“Everyone was shaken out of their normal routines and we had a little more time to stop and smell the roses,” he said. “Also, we were limited on what we could do to certain activities that are outdoors, that are by yourself, where you can socially distance. Biking is perfect thing for that.”
“Add in, hey, maybe you don’t want to take the bus anymore or the trolley or take an Uber somewhere, and it’s like, well, maybe there’s another opportunity for that. I think people started realizing how functional these motorized bikes could be and that they’re not just a toy, they’re an actual tool for getting around.”
Initially, Raymond’s side hustle involved not only selling bikes wholesale, but also manufacturing bikes and helping small businesses do the same.
He manufactured non-branded bakes and sold them at bike shops that could turn them into their own brand.
“That was kind of a unique spin, where everyone else was like, ‘Hey, here’s our own brand,’ I was helping smaller businesses to create their own brand, and to really take bike shops, skate shops and surf shops and give them an additional source of revenue,” he said. “I know it’s tough to be a small business and if I can get a product in the door of your local surf shop that helps them drive a little bit of extra revenue or hire another person, then that’s a great opportunity.”
Throughout 2020, Raymond continued building his side business until it was successful enough for it to become his full-time profession, allowing him to leave behind the logistics industry.
“Why would I bother doing anything else when I have something that I think is exciting, that gives me an opportunity to be an entrepreneur and have my own business? Why would I go work for somebody else when I could be working for myself?” Raymond said.
“[I realized] this isn’t going away, this isn’t a one-time thing, this is happening and it’s happening all over the country and really, Southern California is the hotbed of activity for it as well. So that’s when I said, ‘Hey, let’s go all in with this thing.’”
Raymond began looking at ways to raise money to open up his own shop. He’d been working out of a warehouse in San Clemente, which he visited several times a week to fulfill orders.
He didn’t qualify for government aid, since those were designed to help already existing businesses. So he cleared out his savings and borrowed money from friends and family to go all in on his business and open up a store.
As for where to open up shop, Raymond said that because he lived in downtown San Diego, he wanted something closer to home.
“I spent months scouring the area, looking for a good location. I’d literally go on bike rides, day-long bike rides in different areas… I knew what I was looking for, I knew the kind of space I needed, I knew the kind of neighborhood I wanted to be in. I really wanted to be in a neighborhood where we could take care of the local community,” he said.
He landed on a spot off Voltaire Street in the Point Loma Heights area and in mid-January, EZE Ryders officially opened.
Raymond likes the neighborhood’s community, as well as the picturesque landscape. And, of course, being near the beach is a plus.
“Our beach cruisers and the other electric bikes that we do lend very well to that,” he explained. "(They’re) kind of the perfect tools to take full advantage of a beach community.”
Raymond said that what sets EZE Ryders apart from other online, direct bike sellers is customer service and expertise.
“What we saw with a lot of these online bike companies is that they really lack the customer service. Yeah, you might be able to get a bike from one of these online companies shipped to your house. Maybe you save some money on doing it, maybe you don’t, but at the end of the day, there’s really no one there to help you,” Raymond said.
Also, because the bikes are both mechanical and electric, they need special care and adjustment — services you can’t always find if you buy online.
EZE Ryders provides rentals and repairs on electric bikes, and sell a variety of brands, including its own custom line called Coastal Cruisers. Best-sellers include motorized beach cruisers and more unique products, like OneWheels, which are motorized, one-wheeled skateboards.
In the meantime, with his business flourishing, Raymond has fully embraced living and owning a business in San Diego.
“It’s really nice to have the opportunity to move here and to start a business here and be part of the community. I don’t want to be sappy, it’s kind of like a dream come true,” he said.
Raymond says they are planning an outdoor soft-opening event on March 21. For more information about EZE Ryders, visit ezeryders.com.
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