GARDENA, Calif. (BRAIN) — After 50 years of selling and preaching the benefits of wool cycling clothing, John Kucharik Jr. is leaving the industry.
Kucharik Bicycle Clothing will close on Thursday, 70 years after his dad, John Kucharik Sr., began the business in 1952. Kucharik Sr. died in 2008 at age 93.
“I’m going to turn 69 pretty soon,” Kucharik Jr. told BRAIN on Tuesday, while adding his sales have escalated since the pandemic began two years ago. “It’s really sad because I have a lot of customers. This is really sad on both parts. But I’ve been promising my wife to travel and to do some stuff.”
While the showroom and factory at 1745 W. 182nd St. in Gardena will shut its doors after Thursday, Kucharik will continue to sell off inventory online until it’s depleted. Kucharik sold the building, which he has considered a home away from home for 42 years. The new owner will rent the space out, he said.
While known as one of the few manufacturers that produce wool cycling clothing, Kucharik also became one of the few that repaired all fabrics of cycling clothing.
“I don’t make my money on repairs,” he said. “I just do it because I do it. My dad did it; I did it. I do zippers. I do pads and stuff. You have the top-notch suppliers, these guys pay $200, $250, $300 for a bib short. They ride it once and they can’t ride it again. A bike shop doesn’t want it back, so I average probably about 40 shorts — not mine — and bibs and tights a week with pad replacements because what are you going to do? Throw it in a corner and look at it?”
Back in the day, when first tagging along with his dad as “the punk kid that I was,” Kucharik said he would argue with him that lycra and synthetic fabrics would overtake wool. That never happened at Kucharik Bicycle Clothing, but interestingly, the younger Kucharik admitted he didn’t convert to wool until about five years ago.
“I preached it because I sold it, and I could sell a good story,” he said. “I’m older now. I started wearing wool jerseys, baseliners, and I’ve been riding with these two guys for 30 years. And my other two buddies refused to wear this because wool doesn’t have the pizzaz, doesn’t have the print, doesn’t have the bright colors like the printed jerseys. But it doesn’t matter if it’s 40 degrees or 80 degrees. You’re stone dry underneath because it’s a natural fiber that breathes. It keeps you warm; it keeps you cool. And you can tell people in California 24/7 that, and they think you’re on drugs. Never hot, never cold.”
A natural story-teller and industry name-dropper, Kucharik said one of …….