The store that started as a small bicycle on Galen Street nearly 40 years ago has been named one of the top bicycle stores in the nation.
Farina’s, located on Galen Street near Watertown Street, was named one of 2014 America’s Best Bike Shops by the National Bicycle Dealers Association.
Stores across the nation can apply, and the criteria for the award include customer service, business practices, bicycle advocacy, employee training and community service, said Paula Farina Pollis, one of the co-owners along with her brothers Anthony and Michael.
“We are thrilled to be ranked among the top stores,” Farina Pollis said. “This year less than 300 shops fell into this category out of more than 4,000 bicycle retailers.”
The process is long, and included essay questions and having a secret shopper come into the store. The NBDA also checked with Farina’s suppliers to see if they pay their bills and looked at the store’s website to see if it accurately reflected the merchandise in stock in the store.
Farina’s was one of only four in Massachusetts to get the recognition.
Paula’s father Giacomo “Jack” Farina opened in store in 1975. He and his wife came to the United States in 1955 from the small town of Atina, about an hour and a half from Rome.
“The town was bombed in World War II,” Farina Pollis said. “The town is located near the site of a major battle – Monte Casino.”
The couple settled in Newton where they had five children.
Jack spoke no English, but was a talented mechanic for who worked on engines and motorcycles. He also had a keen interest in bicycle racing, which was already popular in Italy and Europe.
He built a one-story store on the same spot where Farina’s is now. Originally it was going to be an auto repair shop, but a friend suggested bicycles.
The “10-speed” craze hit in the United States around the same time, and he also started selling snow blowers in the winter.
“Soon afterward we had the blizzard of ’78,” Farina Pollis said.
In 1982 a second story was added, and for most of that time they also sold snowblowers and lawnmowers.
Farina’s gets involved in many events in the community. They host group rides and they have plans to add a women’s only one and one for beginners, too.
At the Pan Mass Challenge, the largest charity bicycling event in the state, Farina’s has provided mechanical support at one of the main hubs for the event in Wellesley for 25 years.
“We are there from start to finish for technical and mechanical support,” Farina Pollis said. “The race organizers need a shop that is 100 percent reliable that they can count on.”
The store also supplies bicycles for contests that encourage children to read. Farina’s teams up with local elementary schools for the Books for Bikes program where children read each day for two or three weeks and they get to enter a contest where the winner gets to choose a bike worth $350 from the store.
They also work with Dependable Cleaners on a summer reading program called Read to Ride. The dry cleaner chain gives out 12 bikes and Farina’s supplies the bicycles.
“It promotes reading and promotes physical exercise,” Farina Pollis said.