New Business Rolls into Town
Fortress Bikes at PartyMaster
by Denise Sullivan
HURLEYVILLE, June 2021– Hal Simon hasn’t yet figured out what he wants to do when he grows up. But he knows where he wants to be, and that’s in Sullivan County.
As a young boy, Mr. Simon spent summers in Woodbourne with family, and he fell in love with the Catskills. When his parents bought a house on Long Island, they stopped coming to Sullivan County, and he hated summer day camp on the Island. Luckily, his grandparents were still here each July and August, and he was able to continue his Catskills summer adventures, eventually getting jobs at the Raleigh Hotel and Ideal Bungalows as a lifeguard.
Mr. Simon then landed a job at Kaplan’s Deli, which was the beginning of a fulfilling career in the food business in the New York City area. He loves meeting people, so this work suited him. He and his wife, Laurie bought a house on Long Island and had two daughters, now grown up with their own careers.
But Mr. Simon missed the magical mountain summers, and he was searching for a change in lifestyle along with a less demanding job. He and Laurie bought a second home in Emerald Green, and, like Superman, he had found his “fortress of solitude.”
His wife even bought him a sign for the house that’s painted with the moniker.
The Simons had made friends in Rock Hill, and their daughters grew to enjoy the landscape their father loved. The couple were spending time hiking local trails when the wheels of a new business started turning in their heads. They knew they could live here full time, but what could he do that would allow him to meet people?
One day on the paved Milk Train Trail in Hurleyville, Mr. Simon had a thought:
“This town needs bike rentals.”
After some research and visits to other bicycle businesses, the Simons connected with Perry Gips, longtime Hurleyville resident and owner of PartyMaster, a national entertainment company. He agreed to rent out the front of his warehouse at 194 Main Street, and Fortress Bikes was born.
The location is perfect – just steps away from the rail trails and municipal parking. Mr. Simon’s vision is to make the place visible and welcoming. They uncovered a large patio in front the building, and a new facade is almost finished. Fortress bikes will be a four-season business, renting bikes, in-line skates, and in the winter, snow shoes.
As reported in Outside magazine, the pandemic created a huge exercise boom in the U.S., with bikes at its center. New bicycles have been in short supply for months, and some shops have entirely sold out. This was a bump on the trail for Fortress Bikes, making it difficult to acquire inventory. So, Mr. Simon plans to open shop in mid-June, with a ribbon cutting and press release.
For now, Fortress Bikes is established on Facebook and Instagram, waiting to announce their grand opening. And Hal Simon is about to begin a new grown-up Catskills adventure.