Oct 06, 2023

Va. Beach company has outside track for pedal carts


Brad Foster first noticed one pedal cart in the parking lot off Laskin Road. Then there were four. Then the hay bales showed up.

He had to stop in.

"These things are so cool," Foster said after test-driving a couple of models at EZ Ryder Pedal Karts.

He decided to buy a pink one for his 7-year-old daughter. Foster lives at the North End, and he plans to let his daughter use the cart on the feeder road that parallels Atlantic Avenue.

"They’re so much more visible than a bicycle," he said.

EZ Ryder Pedal Karts opened Nov. 29 at 1017 Laskin Road, Suite 100, and has been turning heads since. The owners set up a mini-track in front of the store where customers can weave around the hay bales while trying several styles of the carts.

The store is actually a two-fold business.

Katie Schmitz and her husband, Everett Ryder, operate EZ Ryder and Marianne Linen & Equipment Rental from the same location.

The equipment rental company has a long history in Virginia Beach. Schmitz's mother, Marianne, started it in 1984, renting bed and bath linens by the week for beach cottages.

It was a small operation when Schmitz took it over in 2000. She expanded it to include bicycles, wheelchairs and more. She moved the operation from a modest self-storage unit to a 3,000-square-foot climate-controlled warehouse on Birdneck Road.

"Over the years, we filled all that up," she said.

They recently added pedal carts to their rental repertoire when her husband became interested in them after he retired from a career working as a civilian with the Navy.

He's likes Harley-Davidson motorcycles, too, of which he has three, and goes by "Easy," a nickname bestowed on him in college.

Easy, 62, needed a storefront to sell Berg pedal carts. They range from several hundred dollars to more than $1,000. Schmitz, 55, joined forces with her husband, and they’ve split the shop down the middle: carts on one side, linens and other rental equipment on the other side.

This way, she said, she’d finally have a showroom and could help pay the rent.

Schmitz's offerings have expanded in recent years to not only providing and delivering equipment to vacationers, but also making beds, stocking a house with groceries and delivering flowers. Once, a colonel called to have a house set up in advance of a visit. He wanted it "all made up with everything put in its place," Schmitz said.

Summer naturally is the busiest time for equipment rentals, but orders also come in during the holiday season. People have family in town and need a highchair for the baby, a beach wheelchair for a family member, or a go-kart to cruise around on with the children.

Easy hopes they like a cart enough to buy one.

Stacy Parker, 757-222-5125, [email protected]

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