LOCKPORT — A bicycle rental business will be launched from Canal Street this spring.
Ellen Martin, co-owner of Sweet Sixteen Cafe on West Main Street, is planning a Memorial Day weekend grand opening of Sweet Ride Rentals at 51 Canal St.
It’ll be a place where people can rent old-fashioned, beach cruiser-type bicycles, buy box lunches and Sweet Sixteen treats and stock up on the sorts of things that appeal to bicyclists and Canal Corridor visitors: sunblock, sunglasses, trail maps and the like. “Fun coffee drinks and Italian sodas” will be served too, Martin said.
Sweet Ride Rentals should encourage exploration of the Erie Canal towpath and the city itself, and not just by visitors. Martin is betting that Sweet Ride’s “lunch hour express” deal will appeal to downtown workers who’ve got a lunch hour to burn.
“We’ll set it up so you’re in and out without the (rental paperwork) rigamarole. I think this business can get some traction with people in the city” as well as visitors, she said.
Details of the business plan emerged Thursday, when the Greater Lockport Development Corporation board of directors OK’d hiring of Orchard Park-based Zak Remodeling to build out the first floor of 51 Canal St. for Sweet Ride Rentals. The build-out work will cost about $30,000.
GLDC and Martin are still working out specifics of a three-year rental agreement for the finished space, Executive Director R. Charles Bell said.
The lease isn’t a done deal, he emphasized — but it seems likely to be since Zak, the low bidder among two for the build-out work, was the contractor in charge of remodeling several West Main Street properties co-owned by Martin’s brother, Jack. The business that he’s a principal in — J. Fitzgerald Group marketing agency — is designing Sweet Ride’s logo; the whole family is excited about the business, Ellen Martin said.
The GLDC board’s vision for the Canal Street block always has been to have its street-level spaces occupied by tourist-friendly retail businesses. The going has been painfully slow, as several. According to Bell, the board recently had begun considering whether it was time to put out a call for proposals to develop certain types of retail operations.
“Then all of a sudden, we had the perfect candidate come forward” in Martin,” Bell said. “Sweet Ride Rentals is absolutely an ideal business for that block.”
City Visitors Center staff say they’re often asked whether and where bikes can be rented, according to Bell.
Martin envisions Sweet Ride aiding in the marketing of Lockport, by highlighting places visitors can cycle to, such as wineries on the Niagara Wine Trail and the towpath. Already, she’s had some discussion with Rich and Bree Woodbridge, operators of McCollum Farms in lowertown, about promoting bike rides to the farm’s u-pick orchards.
Sweet Ride Rentals will be open through Oct. 1 each year, Martin said.