Adam Miller Toy & Bicycle
The History Heroes summer program hosted by Holland Land Office Museum and led by Anne Marie Starowitz visited Adam Miller Toy & Bicycle and WBTA today, fitting into this year's theme of "History Rockin’ Around the Clock in the 1950s."
The theme gives the participating children a chance to glimpse into what it was like to live in 1950s America.
Photos by Howard Owens
Adam Miller is offering $30 Gift Certificates for $20.20, and has extended this offer to anyone who wishes to buy one for the Just King’s Toy Drive. Simply stop by the store at 8 Center St. or call (585) 343-0548 and they will be happy to take your order over the phone.
Adam Miller’s is a hometown favorite, featuring classic and educational toys, activity kits, bicycles, puzzles and the most interesting collection of stocking stuffers around. This charming, old-school toy store comes complete with old wood floors that squeak a bit -- a quaint welcome as you walk through the doors and browse
The Just Kings continue to work and mentor youth in our area, and have held a host of community outreach events and fun activities like their Trunk or Treat Halloween, Thanksgiving Food Drive, Book Bag Giveaway, and neighborhood summer celebrations galore.
You are also welcome to donate gently used toys for newborns to age 12. They will brighten some child's Christmas morning.
The toy drive is underway through Dec. 21.
Toys can be dropped off at Royals Barber Shop, 317 Ellicott St., Batavia.
John Roche at Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle did something a little different yesterday: He held a garage sale.
The team at Adam Miller hauled out of storage all the bikes that had been left for repair and never picked up or were trade-ins on new bikes, along with bike parts and accessories, and put the items in the store's parking lot and hung price tags on them.
There were vintage bikes, racing bikes, mountain bikes, and bikes that will probably get you from here to there without being much to look at. Roche said he might make the garage sale an annual event.
Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle celebrated 100 years in business Saturday with games, prizes and $1 tacos. Proceeds benefitted Don R. Carroll Toys for Kids.
Tacos for Toys at:
Adam Miller Toys & Bicycles, 8 Center Street, Batavia
Join us on Saturday June 30th from 11am-2pm as we celebrate 100 years in business with $1 Tacos (Donations). All proceeds from the taco sales are going to benefit Don R Carroll Toys for Kids. Help us celebrate, stop by and grab some tacos!
John Roche, who owns Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle with his wife, Cathy, stands behind the counter in his store at 8 Center St., Batavia, which is celebrating 100 years in business.
Roche and his wife Cathy, of Corfu, are owners of Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle, which is celebrating 100 years in business this year.
“I have the pleasure of going to work and playing all day,” said Roche, who bought the business in 2002.
The store was started by Walter Davis in 1918 as a wheel goods store. In 1929, he built the building at 8 Center St., selling baby buggies, doll carriages, tricycles, bikes and pedal cars.
When Adam Miller purchased the business in 1946, he changed the name to Adam Miller Wheel Goods. In the mid 1950s, Miller erected a neon sign out front, which is still in use today. He continued to increase his line of merchandise, adding on to the building in the 1960s to accommodate a full-service repair shop and expanding to toys and hobbies.
Miller retired in 1970, turning the business over to his children, son Gary, and daughter and son-in-law Joyce and Buzz Masse. Gary and Buzz were both schoolteachers, and after school they were mechanics in the bike shop.
Adam Miller died in 2000 at the age of 90.
As for Roche, he has years of experience in the bicycle business. He started fixing bikes for his friends at age 13 in his parent’s garage. After graduation, he went to work for 13 years at a bicycle shop in Lancaster, before going into the wholesale bicycle business for a company in Cheektowaga.
When his company decided to move to New Jersey, Roche didn’t want to go with them. He got a job at Potter Lumber, but in the back of his mind, his retirement plan was to buy a bicycle shop.
While doing business with the Adam Miller store, Roche became friends with Miller’s children. When the Masses were ready to retire, after running the business for 25 years, they called Roche.
“Joyce and Gary wanted someone who would keep their family’s tradition as a bike shop,” Roche said. “They called me and I took the opportunity.”
The bicycle business has gone crazy, with all different styles, Roche said. He has one model which is a three-wheel version, capable of being used as a hunting vehicle.
“It’s big enough you could put a deer on the back to drag it out of the woods,” Roche said.
The store continues to be considered “the neatest store in town,” Roche said.
The bicycle repair shop is a big part of the business, with Michael Mugler as shop manager. He has been with Roche since day one, having worked with him for 20 years in the bicycle warehouse.
The Roche’s have three sons, all of whom have their own careers, but also an interest in bikes. They all worked in the store growing up. One has a bicycle collection on display in the store, and their middle son Shawn likes to tinker with bikes, and builds his own. They help out during special occasions, such as Christmas in the City.
Roche’s plans for the future include moving into online sales, while continuing to offer the favorite toys and games from past decades.
Customers have been bringing in old toys and games, which Roche is displaying in the store windows. He invites anyone with any old toy to bring it in.
The store will celebrate the 100th anniversary with two parties, a customer appreciation day on June 30 and another special event at Christmas time.
Carter McClellan, 15 months old, wasn't too happy during his first visit with Santa today at Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle.
Santa visited Adam Miller so the store could provide a free visit and a chance to get pictures with Santa for customers who came in the store today.
Penelope Ortiz, 18 months, below, was also a little unsure of the Santa thing, but didn't cry.
Chase McClellan, 7, was quite ready to let Santa know what tops his Christmas wish list.
Emerson, 2, and Avalon, 6, were among the dozens of kids who stopped in at Adam Miller Toy and Bicycles today to share their Christmas wishes with Santa.
Batavia Police along with the Batavia Fire Department and the Batavia Lions Club are presenting a bicycle safety program to the City of Batavia Parks programs.
Each Wednesday during the summer the police and fire departments will be visiting a park in the City of Batavia where the Batavia Youth Bureau hosts children recreation programs. Remaining dates are: July 13, 20, 27 and Aug. 3.
Officers will instruct the children on the proper rules of the road for riding a bike and then supervise them through a simulated road course. The fire department inspects bikes and advises the children on the proper care of their bikes.
Along with training, helmets are offered to children who register their bikes or are in need of a helmet. The bike helmets are provided by a grant from the Batavia Lions Club as well as a NYS Grant received by the Batavia Fire Department. The Helmets were purchased by Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle, of Batavia, at a reduced rate. Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle has also donated its time to help fit children’s helmets for this program.
To find out times and specific parks and dates call the Batavia Youth Bureau at 345-6421.
Bruce Reisdorf stopped at Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle today for some repairs while in Batavia as part of his "Tour de Empire." Reisdorf is riding from New York City to Niagara Falls to help raise money for diabetes research and education.
In Niagara, Reisdorf will take part on the Tour de Cure, sponsored by the American Diabetes Association.
One reason he came through Batavia is his brother-in-law is Mike Easton, manager of the M&T Bank branch here.
You can find out more about Reisdorf and his ridet on his blog.
Also pictured, Adam Miller's owner, John Roche.
It's easy to spot customers who have never been in Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle. They tend to point at things and ooh and aah -- a lot. That's because the inventory is comprised of an amazing array of classic toys and amusements not usually found in one place, certainly not in Big Box stores.
Spinning tops, a stuffed menagerie that can include bats, otters, zebras, squirrels, not just bears and bunnies, and models, kites, puzzles, bikes, trikes, and metal cars of the future as envisioned in the Atomic Age. Games anyone? Remember Mystery Date? Stratego? Or SNL's beleaguered Mr. Bill? Cap guns, authentic Silly Putty?
But more important than retro toys that don't require batteries or electricity is the sublime customer service and personal attention that is more or less lost in the nexus of retail commerce today.
Reason enough, perhaps, that this 96-year-old institution on Center Street in Downtown Batavia is the 2013 Retail Business of the Year, so designated by members of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.
"I think it's cool," said owner John Roche of the unexpected accolade. "I guess being nominated by a friend of ours (attorney Michael Rivers) and getting people to vote for us -- it's a task and can't be the easiest thing to do. But I think it's cool. It's a good thing."
So is the toy biz in general, he says, because "It's not a real job. I guess it's one of those jobs where you go to work and it's not work. You have fun and you never work a day in your life."
He and his wife, Cathy, bought the business in 2002.
The enterprise began as a "wheel goods store" in 1918 owned by Walter J. Davis. The building was constructed at 8 Center St. in 1929. Back then, people went to places for specific services; no one-stop-shops existed. There was, say, the baker, the blacksmith, the dry goods merchant, the green grocer, and a place where items with wheels were purchased and repaired. Davis also sold a few toys and tobacco products. He sharpened ice skates, lawn mower blades, and even strung tennis rackets to keep the business running.
In 1946, Adam F. Miller bought the Davis Wheel Goods store, which became Adam Miller Wheel Goods. In the mid-'50s, he put up the distinctive neon sign hanging out front. The business expanded in the 1960s to include toys and hobbies "for kids of all ages" and a year-round full-service repair shop.
Adam retired in the '70s and handed the business over to his children, Joyce Masse and Gary Miller, who ran it for 25 years during which time it garnered the reputation of being "The Neatest Store in Town."
The neon sign was restored in 1990. Long gone was the antiquated term "Wheel Goods" (although the legal corporate name remains Davis Wheel Goods).
Adam continued to visit regularly to make sure all was running smoothly. He died in 2000 at age 90. Subsequently, his children decided to retire themselves and the business was sold to the Roches, of Corfu. The families had known each other for years and were associates in the bicycle industry.
The tradition of quality customer service continued seamlessly.
Moreover, "You don't have to deal with someone who can't make change if the register goes down."
They gladly do special orders, offer free gift wrapping, free layaway, and help with selecting the right gift or choosing the best bicycle.
"Ninety percent of our customers are loyal, repeat customers. They tell their friends, tell everybody about us. That's who I have to thank are these customers for keeping us around so long."
And he doesn't mean just his customers, but also those who've been patrons for 30 or 40 years.
"They bring their kids and grandkids and show them what a real toy store is."
Being available to chat and help select something special results in practically zero returns. They had two after last Christmas.
"I like to tell people, if you buy something and they don't like it -- keep it for yourself, and they often do."
The challenge in bringing in new customers is overcoming the assumption by some that because Adam Miller is a small, family-owned business it's therefore pricey.
"Once they come in here they get it. They can see that's not the case. It's just getting them in the door. We don't have a million dollar advertising budget, so for us, it's definitely by word of mouth that you get people in."
And when they walk through the door, the fun begins.
"You see the smiles on their faces, or the memories that come back to them that make them smile and have good thoughts."