The name Zannetos has been associated with our childhood. It has the stamp of the first small bicycle and our first children's pedals, for thousands of children all over Nicosia… Who can forget the joy of the first ride, the first fall and the scratches on their legs from their first favorite bicycle?< /b>
Mr. Andreas Zannetos has raised generations of young cyclists, since for fifty-eight years, he continues unbroken from where the golden history of the pioneer bicycle dealer in Cyprus was written. There, in the shop he maintains on the main street of Agios Dometios.
Of course, the history of the beginning of the Zannetos Bikes business goes back years. When their father ran a small bicycle repair shop, in the district of Kokkinia in Piraeus. He may not have grown up there, but upon their return to Cyprus, when Mr. Zannetos was still an infant, his father, despite the difficulties, opened a small shop in Agios Dometios and naturally associated his whole life with bicycles.
Growing up, Mr. Andreas Zannetos continued his father's business. He opened his first bike repair shop and when he moved on to his first bike imports and sales, he was very successful. Since then he managed to acquire four stores in different areas of Nicosia.
Over the years and after realizing that none of his children will follow in his footsteps, he decided to gradually close the stores one by one. Today, at the age of 78, he continues with the same zeal and love his work, in Agios Dometios and it is not at all in his plans to leave the place where everything he acquired with effort and toil began.
Mr. Andreas Zannetos told REPORTER, the history of his business, his love for cycling, while offering advice to those who would like to choose this profession.
From Piraeus, Cyprus and the souvenirs from his father's shop
He often proudly states, “I was born on April 1, 1945 in Piraeus”. He may have been born in Greece, but he only lived there for a few months of his life, after his father made the decision for them to return and live in Cyprus. Financially ruined, his father was undeterred. He stood on his feet and opened the first store. As he recounts, “it was very difficult in Greece then. My father could not stand the infighting between the left and the right and decided to leave as soon as I was born. Completely broke financially, we initially lived in a former camp owned by the British, which had then been evacuated and housed homeless people. Then he decided to open his first shop in a small shack in Agios Dometios”.
In that small shack Mr. Zannetos learned the job well and from the age of twelve he repaired bicycles. “I grew up in the store. Next to my father, I learned everything. At that time the area was inhabited by English people and they all had bicycles, so my father proceeded to buy a plot of land, in which he built another shop, together with our house”.
The career in music that didn't follow and his first store
Besides his love for cycling, Mr. Zannetos had a great love for music, after he learned to play the accordion well and without realizing it, he found himself in a band, with whom they played music together in many areas of Cyprus. “I really liked music and learned to play on a second-hand accordion. I enrolled at the National Conservatory and without realizing it we had created a band and were playing Pangypria. They had offered me to work at night in shops, but I didn't have such a dream”.
He may not have been able to finish school, since due to the struggle of EOKA he could not be admitted to the Technical School, nevertheless, Mr. Zannetos continued to nurture his mind with knowledge, which then helped him in his course of his business. As Mr. Zannetos said, “I only finished elementary school, I never went to high school. But I was thirsty for learning, so I learned English well, learned to type and wrote my first business letters”.
After his training at the National Guard, he found himself at Pentadaktylos. The army gave the soldiers a salary, but Mr. Zannetos could not spend it anywhere. With this money, he bought the tools for his first shop. “My first store was a little below the one I have in Agios Dometios. I was just repairing bikes there, but then I worked with some importers, buying bikes from them and selling them. Because I was young and my customers were young, I sold too many bikes, finally within five years I managed to import my first bikes from Japan.”
The four stores and the decision to close
The first import of bicycles was a great success, the second even more so, since Mr. Zannetos with his happy, benevolent character managed to be loved by the people. The one shop became four and success was now a fact. “With the success in sales, we managed to buy a bigger store on Strovolou Avenue, a third one in Palouriotissa and another one in Kokkinotrimithia”.
Mr. Zannettos lived with the expectation that his son, who had shown his love for cycling from an early age, often winning medals in races, would follow his profession. But this never happened, because in addition to being a good cyclist, his son was a very good student and won a scholarship to an American university, having a great career. There he put a brake on the continuous expansion of the business and made the decision to close the three stores. As he says, “somewhere there I realized that the business would not continue and I made the decision to close the stores because it was tiring for me, and also for my wife. I only left the two stores. In the end I also closed the store we had in Archangelos. We stayed with this here in Agios Dometios”.
The complaint and the decision to remain in his post until today
He may be 78 years old, but Mr. Zannetos, as he said, still feels young and to this day he is used to going for rides on his bicycle, while enjoying beautiful moments with his family and grandchildren. “I feel very happy about what I managed to do. Now I have my shop, my friends visit me and I cycle almost every day. My greatest joy is the time I spend with my grandchildren. I have clients from young children to pensioners who want to take their walks. In fact, many children whose parents bought them a bicycle from here come to this day with their own families. This is happiness for me”.
Mr. Zannetou's only complaint is the fact that he has been in legal trouble with the Ministry of Finance for twelve years. “I've always been right, and I live with the anxiety that they might proceed with confiscation. The adventure started twelve years ago, when there was a tsunami in the countries of Asia and we were urged by the EU to take goods from there to help the countries. They went through customs without paying duty because that was the deal. Years passed and I was informed by Customs that they were not Sri Lankan products but from China and they were asking me for the duty. I hope this adventure ends”.
The adventure may remain in his mind, but Mr. Zannetos lives and breathes for his shop, since even though he was asked to sell it, he does not think about it at all, while at the same time he gives advice to young people who want to follow his profession.
“I am not thinking of leaving. I don't know what I will do so many hours at home. I will stay here as long as I can. My advice to young people is that if you want to get into cycling, you should love nature. He should be enjoying it.” This is the secret of their success that Mr. Zannetos has experienced over the years and this is what he advises young people to do. Always love what they do so that success comes in the end.