Fulton Bikes Circles Back to Clinton Hill

Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Fulton Bikes, located at 997 Fulton Street, is a recent addition to the BID, but one with deep roots on Fulton Street.  The shop was open for a brief time in the 90’s and has a sister location of the same name a little further down Fulton Street to the east.  Philip Han and Jamal Quyyam, the shops owner and salesman, respectively, reflect on their time in the bike business and what it means to be a community-oriented bike shop.

FAB: Please describe your business and your roles.

Philip Han:  I’m the shop’s owner.  We sell bicycles and provide the best repair service and information we can to the cycling community.

Jamal Quyyum:  I’m a salesperson.  I deal with customer relations.  I supply travel information.  Some folks refer to me as a human bicycle map of the tri-state area.

FAB: How did you get started in business?

Philip Han:  My parents owned a variety store at 1580 Fulton.  In 1992 they started selling bikes.  I would help out in the summers when I was off from school.  Initially, we sold discount bikes at really low prices.  In 2003, I took over the business with a business partner.  We decided to sell higher end bikes.  You see, bikes break down.  The same people were buying $100 bikes and paying $200 a year to repair them.  So it made financial sense for us to offer higher quality bikes that people paid a little more for upfront.

I’ve always liked the business/customer interaction.  There’s great satisfaction in helping someone buy a bike.  Often customers will come back a month after they’ve purchased a bike and tell you the benefits they get from cycling. There’s great satisfaction in that.

Jamal Quyyam:  I got into cycling for fitness reasons.  I was a recreational runner for 5 or 6 years.  I injured myself and couldn’t run anymore, so I started cycling. This was 2000, maybe late 90s.  First I started riding as a commuter; then recreationally; and then as a complete source of transportation. Naturally, I was interested in the maintenance of my equipment.  People have doctors and plumbers and dentists.  Bicyclists need mechanics, as well. In time, I came across the Bed-Stuy shop where you get same-day service.  I became a regular customer.  3 years ago, Philip asked me to do tours with groups.  I had a casual relationship with the store and we did the tours for free.  Then, with the last economic downturn, I was cycled out of my old job as a graphic designer. Philip asked me to come help out with the shop, and then when we expanded to Clinton Hill, I came down here.

Philip Han:  Jamal has vast knowledge; where to ride; and what cyclists need.

FAB: How long have you been in this location, and what made you choose it?

Philip Han:  In ‘97, I opened up a shop in this location, but I shut it it down in 2001 because I had an opportunity to go into the computer networking field.  In 2003, I went back to the Bed-Stuy location to run it.  In 2012, we re-opened this location because we noticed that there were more and more people on bikes down here, so we could bring variety and good pricing.

Jamal Quyyam:  We also realized that a lot of our customers from the Bed-Stuy store lived down here, so it made sense.

FAB: What do you like about the area?

Philip Han:  The sense of community.  We came to survey the store right after the storm–Sandy.  We just came to check on it, but there was a line of people outside.  They wanted to rent bikes, get bikes repaired, and pick up accessories, so they could check on their houses and families since there was no public transportation.  They came in for the next few weeks to thank us for staying open, but really we were grateful to be a part of the community.

FAB: What do you think about the newly-installed pedestrian plaza – Putnam Triangle Plaza?

Philip Han:  It’s a good idea.  I think it’s still evolving.  We examined bikes during a FAB Fridays, and during the summer it’s fun hearing the music from the concerts.

FAB: What would you recommend to other businesses in the area to help them succeed?

Philip Han:  You gotta carry what people want here.  Since we’re relatively new in this location, it’s not the easiest question to answer.  For us it’s constantly changing, but we’re always monitoring what people want.  We keep the prices competitive because we’re in competition with the internet.  So we make sure that when people come in here the prices are not much different than what they can find on the internet.

Jamal Quyyam:  We also try to be community-friendly.  It can’t just be about the money. We offer free air and free information.  When we opened up we offered free seminars on bicycle commuting and maintenance.  We’ll start those up again in the warmer months.  We give lifetime adjustments on any bike purchased here.  My point is that we think of this as a service, and people respond accordingly.

Philip Han:  Repeat customers are everything. That’s what keeps us going.

FAB:  What do you want the community to know about your business?

Jamal Quyyam:  Our mechanic, Jesus, has between 25 and 30 years experience.  He’s not someone who is going to guess about fixing your bike.

FAB: What do you want the community to know about you?

Philip Han:  We’re very simple people. We just enjoy what we do.  Jamal is very into cycling.  When I see more bike lanes and more bikers on the road, I think about how it’s a great privilege to be a part of this.

Fulton Bikes
997 Fulton (St. James and Cambridge)
Brooklyn, NY
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