Erik Budman and Jack Dewein shake hands after Budman purchases Jack's Bikes in Key Largo. CONTRIBUTED

Jack’s Bikes is more than just a bicycle rental, sales and repair shop. To many, it’s a Key Largo institution. In business for over three decades at the U-Haul in Key Largo at MM 103.5, the modest shop has welcomed repeat customers year after year. Including customers like Erik Budman, a bicycle enthusiast whose grandfather introduced him to Jack’s Bikes when he was a teenager.

“I was coming here for parts and he said I can’t do it any more,” said Budman of a recent conversation he had with Jack Dewein, the 91-year-old founder of Jack’s Bikes. Recently Dewein realized it was time to step away from his beloved business.

“He just said, ‘Hey, how about buying me out?’” recalled Budman. 

Budman, who also works as a property manager, handyman and part-time employee at the Tavernier Ace Hardware, gave it some thought and decided to go for it. 

He bought the business that included a collection of new and used bikes and loads of bicycle parts, tools and accessories. 

“The stuff was stacked everywhere,” said Budman. “There was no organization.” 

Over the next few months, Budman and his friends rolled up their sleeves and got to work, meticulously sifting through inventory that was piled up to the ceiling. 

Budman’s priorities for the business include updating the marketing strategy and adding more sought-after accessories. 

“I’m good with marketing and sales, that’s my background so I knew that I needed certain things here and I got them and they’re just selling; like headlights, for instance. Jack had no lighting here,” Budman said.

He also plans to expand the hours of operation and is striving to be open seven days a week.

“It’s nice to know that the doors will still be open,” said longtime customer Joey Hernandez. Hernandez has been visiting Key Largo from Kentucky for nine years and has always relied on Jack’s Bikes for all of his bicycle needs. 

“I do appreciate the extra hours,” added Hernandez.

As for Dewein, after selling his business he moved to Iowa to be closer to his grandson. We spoke with him by phone and he told us he misses working and really misses his customers.

“I miss it like the devil but I can’t do it any more,” Dewein said. “I’m past 90 and I’m getting old.” 

Even though the business has changed hands, Budman says Dewein will always have a special place here. Budman has no intention of changing the name or the fair business practices that endeared Jack’s Bikes to so many residents and visitors alike over the last 35 years.

“I’m going to leave it Jack’s, like an old bar in a neighborhood, ” Budman said. “You leave it the same, people keep coming and you keep treating them the same way and helping them out.”

 For more information on Jack’s Bikes including sales, rentals and repairs, call 305- 582-3239.

Kellie Butler Farrell
Kellie Butler Farrell is a journalist who calls Islamorada home. Kellie spent two decades in television news and also taught journalism at Barry University in Miami and Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, UAE. She loves being outside, whether spending time on the water or zipping down the Old Highway on her electric bike, Kellie is always soaking up the island lifestyle. Kellie and her husband own an electric bike rental company, Keys Ebikes.