Since the 1970s, bikes ranging from turquoise beach cruisers to bright yellow tricycles have lined the front of a long, blue-gray building on the Coast Road just north of Lewes.
When customers enter Shaffer’s service, they are greeted by an old black-and-white “Schwinn” sign above the counter and other bikes strewn about awaiting a sale or repair.
But while locals and visitors alike know the family business for its high standard of service and quality products, that’s not what most people will tell you about the store.
Rob Welsh, pastor at The Odyssey Church in Selbyville and friend of the Shaffer family, put it so.
“This store had more love than there were bikes,” he said. “And there were a lot of bikes.”
Many people will say that they felt like part of a family – even though they only spent a few minutes in the store – and that, they say, it was because of Cindy Shaffer.
Shaffer owned the store for over 40 years, but to a lot of people she was so much more.
Friends of her sons Matthew and Nathan remember Cindy Shaffer as a second mother. She would take the kids to Little League games or McDonald’s in her blue Mystery Machine-like van, she planned trips to theme parks and beaches, and she was always there with a big hug, or maybe- be a few hard-to-hear words if she thought you needed them.
She attracted people, invited them to dinner parties, visited them in the hospital, and donated to their causes. It was not uncommon for people to find themselves standing in the bike shop, caught up in a conversation half an hour after they’ve already walked out the door and said their first goodbyes.
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But that was part of what made Shaffer so special and just plain “a good person,” as so many people have remembered.
Cindy Shaffer died at the age of 64 at her Lewes home on Friday July 9. Her life was not spared by trials and hard work, but it was also a life full of perseverance and love.
Shaffer met her late husband of 29, Harold Shaffer, while working in his store in the late 1970s. His family had owned the business since 1949 when it started as a general store and then has evolved over the years – renting boats in Red Mill Pond, selling gasoline and tires, and then, of course, repairing and selling bikes.
When Cindy Shaffer started working at the bike shop she had no special skills or training, but her son Matthew Shaffer said she ended up “teaching me everything I knew about bikes”.
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She went to a bicycle school offered by Schwinn, and she was probably one of the few women in her class. But she was passionate about repairing bikes and wasn’t going to let anyone’s expectations get in the way, Shaffer said.
“She was definitely a perfectionist at her job,” he said. “She didn’t let go of anything that was even less than 100%.”
Welsh, who worked in the store, laughed remembering the high standards of “Inspector Cindy”. He would finish fixing a bike and present it to her for approval – she rarely let him pass without pointing out something she was missing.
She often said that she felt like the ‘black sheep of the family’, but her sons and others who loved her saw it differently: she always complied when there was a need for someone to help her. ‘other could not fill.
Matthew and Nathan’s dad was known to be the strict parent who kept his kids busy – sometimes even creating chores, like picking up sticks in the woods, when there seemed to be no more work to do on this day. -the.
But Cindy Shaffer made sure their childhoods were also filled with laughter and fun. She loved family dinners and found joy spending time with all the cousins, nieces and nephews.
“She showed me kindness, love and compassion,” said Matthew Shaffer. “I will truly remember that she was a very generous person.”
She never complained, but often said that she was tired because she gave so much of herself to others.
She was devoted to her husband when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at the end of his life, and soon after, she again gave her unlimited time, love and care. father as he faced the same debilitating disease.
It’s that big heart that many people continue to remember when they think of Cindy Shaffer, a woman who made everyone feel like part of their community and family.
“I will always remember that about him. Selfless love given without question or hesitation, ”said Matthew Shaffer. “Isn’t that love?” Isn’t that what love should be? And wouldn’t the world be a better place if we were all a little more like her?
Emily Lytle covers Sussex County from inland towns to beaches. Got a story to tell? Contact her at [email protected] or 302-332-0370. Follow her on Twitter at @ emily3lytle.