Sarah Ivory, owner of Huffin Pedal Tours, Western New York’s newest Pedal Pub, offers passengers a different way to enjoy North Tonawanda and the Erie Canal. <span class='image-credits'>Huffin Pedal Tours</span>

Pedaling through the Tonawandas

Sarah Ivory grew up in the Town of Tonawanda. After graduating from college, while having lunch at the "old" Dockside Inn on the canal, she asked the manager for an employment application. For the next nine summers, she worked at the Dockside Inn, eventually becoming manager, while teaching math for Orleans/Niagara BOCES at the Orleans Career and Tech Education Center to the tech and service trades during the school year. During those nine summers, she recognized the growing life surrounding the Gateway area--boat traffic, kayakers, water sports, nightlife, music/concerts, and more. It was the new "hot spot" of Western New York, she said.

But it wasn’t until last August, when she and her friends booked a pedal pub tour, that she decided to take advantage of this growing opportunity and launch her business, Huffin Pedal Tours.

“As soon as we took off on this bike, I looked at my husband and said ‘This would be amazing in Tonawanda,’" Ivory recalled. With the many options to stop (pubs and restaurants), the foot traffic, and the tourism, she said she knew a bike like this would be a success.

So Ivory started taking classes with SCORE of Buffalo/Niagara, whose staff coached her through the steps she needed to take to launch her business, offered legal and tax advice, and assisted her with filing her DBA with Niagara County and registering the business with New York state. Before she offered her first tour, Ivory also obtained a loan to finance the endeavor, publicized her LLC in two local newspapers, determined the financing for the bike, tracked her startup costs, hired employees, bought the required insurance, and created a waiver with an attorney. And of course, purchased the pedal-powered vehicle that passengers would use on their tours.

“Our Pedal Pub is designed with comfort and safety in mind,” she said. “It seats 14-15 passengers and is equipped with all the bells and whistles--LED lights, blue tooth speaker, and a battery-powered engine.” Intended for customers of all ages and all walks of life, “Huffin Pedal Tours are eco-friendly, promote physical activity, and tend to the beer enthusiasts,” she noted, adding that “Peddlers can have just as much fun without the booze!”

With a bench at the back of the bike where clients can relax, and two “dummy” seats above the rear wheel welds that do not require pedaling, even those who can’t or don’t want to engage in physical activity can still enjoy the ride.

Ivory’s first tour was on Aug. 4, with her friends and family. She is hoping to invest in a second bike next season, ultimately expanding throughout Niagara County. For now, though, customers can design their own tours, enjoying stops along the canal, getting ice cream on Webster Street, or embarking on a historic journey of the Tonawandas, to celebrate a bachelor or bachelorette party or a birthday, get the office together for a team-building experience, or honor a retiring family member.

“The sky’s the limit,” she said.

Read more articles by Lisa McMahon.

Lisa McMahon is managing editor of Upstart NY.  A resident of Niagara Falls, she has been a writer and editor for higher education and nonprofit organizations for 30 years.
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