Palisades’ Online Bike Shop Aika Trading Closing in October

By Laurel Busby
Staff Writer

Anne-Marij Berendsen’s Dutch heritage spurred the creation of a business bringing European family bikes and accessories to the United States.

The idea began when people saw her biking with her two youngest children after she moved to Pacific Palisades from the Netherlands in 2008.

“People would stop me, and say, ‘How is that possible—two kids on one bike?’” Berendsen told the News.

Florianne, Dominique, Anne-Marij and Quinten Berendsen enjoy their European bikes.

Florianne, Dominique, Anne-Marij and Quinten Berendsen enjoy their European bikes.

People also wanted to know where they could acquire similar bikes, so she found a way to help them do it. She started by becoming a distributor for YEPP, which makes front and rear child bike seats ($159-229), and she also became a distributor of Gazelle, which makes a selection of bikes ($900 and up), including ones for families, that can carry multiple kids in front.

With the Gazelle bikes, “you kind of sit like the queen; it’s a very elegant bike,” Berendsen said. “It’s great to commute around town.” The version with the bucket/cargo seat in front that can hold children was also the same model she used to pedal her kids around the Palisades.

Berendsen created a website (aikatrading.com) and since 2010, she has sold more than 45,000 YEPP bike seats nationwide. Two years ago, she also opened a store at 2300 Lincoln Blvd. in Santa Monica, where she has a varied selection, including Brompton folding bikes— “the Swiss army knife of folding bikes,” which cost $1,250 and up, she said.

However, Berendsen’s bike sales journey is coming to an end, as she has decided to let go of the enterprise business either to a buyer or just by closing shop and selling off her remaining merchandise. Her store has a closing sale for the whole month of October, and her website will stay up until supplies sell out. The bike seats will still be available in the United States as Thule is purchasing not only her YEPP dealer network and inventory, but also the Dutch company that creates the seats.

Although Berendsen has enjoyed providing these specialty bikes and accessories to Americans, she is ready to begin the next phase of her life, whatever that may be.

“Retail is tough in the sense that you physically need to be there all the time, and that has obviously a big impact on family life,” said Berendsen, who with her husband Arjen has three children: Quinten, a Palisades High freshman, Dominique, a Paul Revere 7th grader, and Florianne, a 5th grader at Pali Elementary. Arjen works in mergers and acquisitions for j2 Global.

Before opening the store, “I used to be able to work wherever, even if I was visiting family in the Netherlands, Berendsen said. “With a store, that’s not the case. Although it was a great experience—designing a store, finding this great niche in the market, and creating a very loyal customer base—it’s a different ball game.”

Nevertheless, bringing a piece of the Dutch lifestyle to the United States has been a pleasure. In the Netherlands, biking with one’s family is something that is a normal part of life, Berendsen said. The health and environmental benefits are important, but she also emphasizes how it provides more independence and responsibility to children.

“In Holland, everyone gets around on their bikes,” said Berendsen, who bikes to work from the Alphabet Streets neighborhood at least once each week. “If you have a small distance to travel, like bringing kids to school or running some errands, you just go on your bike. More and more people in the U.S. are starting to bike, especially in Santa Monica and some areas of the Palisades . . . It’s a great empowering mode of transportation. When you as a family can bring that to the children, it’s great.”

The phone number for Berendsen’s store, Aika Trading, is (310) 450-2288.

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