Raffi Navarro grew up fixing bicycles out of necessity.
"We didn't have any money, so we had to do it ourselves," the Salvadoran born owner of Raffi's Bicycle Shop on 5509 North Figueroa Street said on Thursday afternoon.
Along with brother Rene, Navarro honed his skills working in shops across the Southland, including the Pasadena Cyclery, B&H Cycles in South Pasadena and Highland Park's own Bicycle Doctor.
After nearly 25 years of fixing bikes for other shop owners, Raffi and Rene set out four years ago to open their own business, Pasadena's Empire Bike Shop.
Last spring, Navarro's mini cycling empire expanded to his neighborhood of 15-years in Highland Park when he opened Raffi's Bicycles.
The small shop currently offers a selection of used, mostly single-gear bicycles and a variety of parts.
Their current specialty, Navarro said, is repairing bicycles and getting riders back on the road.
"Our specialty is customer service and repairs, we have a vision to get more inventory, like BMX bikes and beach cruisers because we grew up on that and we try to promote that to the kids," Navarro said. "We currently focus on used bikes and repairs; people can afford that more easily than buying a new bike."
This reporter was able to have get his bike tuned up and the rear tire replaced for $25, though prices may vary depending on the complexity of the work required.
Navarro also tries to foster an non-intimidating environment in his shop, a place where novices can feel comfortable requesting a simple repair.
"Our mission is to put everybody on bikes," Navarro said. "We have decent prices on service. We understand the economy is very bad, so we try to help the neighbors so they can fix their bike and save money.