Roger and Yasuko’s Bernie Bike Shop Turns 33

Yasuko and Roger in 2012. They haven’t changed. Photo by Mercy Baron.

Roger and Yasuko from Bernie’s Bike Shop are celebrating. A casual observer might tell something special was in place by the three balloons near the funky old cash register.

33 years ago in June, Roger Lovett bought the original Bernie’s at its location on Voltaire and Ebers. It was 1989 and Roger was in his late twenties – having graduated from Point Loma High School in 1980. As a child, he was a regular customer at Bernie’s.

Yasuko came into Roger’s life around the same time – they met on a blind date. They got married and she has been working in the shop with Roger ever since.

In 1991 they moved the store to its current location at 1911 Cable Street – where the Sunshine Surf Shop was located.

Now Bernie’s is OB’s most popular bike shop – and one of the survivors. At one time there were four bike shops in and around OB. And now Bernie’s has a website – which is relatively new.

Almost a decade ago, then OB writer Mercy Baron wrote a wonderful piece for the Rag about how Roger and Yasuko helped make OB what it is today. today.

Here are some excerpts:

Bernie’s Bike Shop at 1911 Cable Street. (All photos by Mercy Baron.)

Roger said he vacuumed the floor twice at his old store and decided, why the hell? It will just get dirty again. And reading reviews of the store on Yelp, the store’s funky, no-pressure selling attitude seems to draw customers in. They feel the OB vibe there and it keeps them coming back. Nothing fancy here, just a good selection of bikes, lots of parts, and quick and easy repairs.

Heck, I’ve brought my tryke several times for squeaks, brakes not working, air in the tires, all sorts of pitiful little things, and they always seem to be able to help me out right away. Everytime. When I offered a few dollars here and there, it was refused by Yasuko or Roger each time. After about a year of their kindness, I finally bought them a big old bag of boiled corn from the farmer’s market to say thank you for being so cool.

Many reviews on Yelp talk about other stores trying to sell their customers things they don’t need and their disdain for it. When I asked Roger about it, he said he was a bad salesperson. When he worked at the old Midway store, his bosses would tell him to stay in the back because his sales prowess was nowhere to be found.

But Roger has no problem shooting the breeze with his clients. On the few times I’ve been there, there always seems to be some runner or other hanging around and talking shop with him. He’s a nice, giant guy who will always take the time to talk to you and change your flat tire too. …

When I asked him how he was cutting costs, as this was one of the most mentioned comments in reviews, he said that nothing out of the ordinary can translate into savings for customers. Although its rent is somewhat high, being only a few stores north of Newport Avenue also results in lower rent for a beach business.

And while he can order a $3,000 bike if you need one, he keeps more moderately priced bikes in the store. …

Roger is not only a repairman, where he makes the most money, but he is also a racer himself. The Morley Field Velodrome is a place where he likes to let loose….