December 4th, 2021

Tommy’s Bicycle Shop: Pedaling in the Right Direction

Eric Ladouceur, new co-owner of Tommy’s Bicycle Shop, is invested in growing the McMinnville cycling community. Photo by Dan Shryock.

It didn’t take Eric Ladouceur long to realize McMinnville was a great place to invest in a bicycle shop.

“When I came to the town, I asked people – a cashier at the grocery store, a teller at the bank, a gas station attendant – if there’s a bike shop in town. They all kind of tilted their heads and looked at me like I was crazy. Of course there’s a bike shop. It’s called Tommy’s.”

That’s Tommy’s Bicycle Shop at 103 SE Baker St.

Eric, a longtime cyclist and former bike tour guide, and business partner Matthew Roth decided to invest in both Tommy’s and the McMinnville community when they bought the shop from Patrick Vala earlier this year. They have big plans.

“We appreciate what Tommy’s is and has been for this community; it’s like we’re carrying a torch,” Eric says. “I meet people from the community that come in and talk about the original Tommy. And then the next Tommy, and then the third Tommy, who really was Pat. And now it’s us. There’s a spirit of what Tommy’s is and what it means to say ‘Tommy’s Bicycle Shop.’”

Eric sees opportunities in McMinnville and he points to the community’s continued growth as a cycling community. He stands among an assortment of new bicycles on the store’s sales floor. There are road bikes, mountain bikes, small bikes for kids, electric bikes, and even commuter bikes. He envisions some of those new bikes going to people who need a less expensive mode of transportation. Others will be purchased by people wanting to commute by bike across town. More still will want road or mountain bikes for recreation.

“There’s something to be said for watching someone come into a shop and get a bike to kind of get around town. They’re not into bikes yet, they just need one,” he says. “Then they start to enjoy it and they rely on it. And then they love it.”

Eric speaks with confidence and a passion. He’s visited plenty of bicycle shops during his travels as a tour guide. He’s kept mental notes on how to make a retail operation successful. Now he’s putting it all to good use.

“It was probably inevitable that I would end up at a bike shop, whether it was as a manager or as an owner,” he says. “I always thought it would be cool to do this.”

There’s potential in the McMinnville cycling community. “There’s beautiful riding just on the edge of town,” he says, “if we were to involve the community, find the land, or find access to create local mountain bike trails. I think the possibilities are endless.”

Eric and Matthew plan to start renting bicycles and they are also considering a cycling camp for children. “Kids would be able to learn how to ride their bike, repair their bike, and fix a flat (tire). And, obviously, do some riding in the process.”

Then there’s a plan to bring cycling tours to Yamhill County as early as 2023.

“Vacations are near and dear because I was a guide for six years and went all over during those trips,” he says. Tours would start small around McMinnville and Newberg taking advantage of wine country before expanding to larger custom tours. “There’s so much potential here.”

Dan Shryock

Dan Shryock regularly writes about McMinnville, travel, and cycle tourism.