I have spent the past week talking to dozens of shop owners about their plans for the pandemic and their experiences so far. Stores in large urban markets with subway systems are selling lots of $500-$1,000 bikes. For the rest, it’s service, repairs and necessary items like tubes and tires that create the core demand.
When you look at retail in general, especially restaurants, bars and other businesses that depend on gatherings and many touchpoints, we’re clearly better off as an industry. And yet, those limited repairs and tube sales aren’t likely to pay anyone’s rent or mortgage.
States and municipalities recognizing the importance of cycling and access to shops has been stunning. In some cases, it’s been due to lobbying by individual shops and advocacy organizations. For the most part, governmental agencies have made these exceptions on their own.
So while we are better able to serve our customers than many businesses, and there’s an acknowledgment that keeping shops open is important to the general welfare, there’s still an element of heroism when shop people risk their own health for the benefit of their customers.
And of course, this is a choice that each shop owner must make for themselves. It’s completely understandable why a shop would close under the current horrific circumstances. Here in Boulder, Colorado, more shops are open than closed, from what we can tell.
To the shops that are choosing to stay open: You are my heroes. Not just heroes of the industry, but of our culture in general. Cycling has so much appeal, as a socially distanced form of exercise, escape and transportation. For enthusiasts, families and everyone in between.
For casual riders, the ones whose bikes are just coming out of garage hibernation, the appeal of pedaling is enhanced by the minimal car traffic in most places. These are the folks who most need our help, and they’re getting it.
So stay as safe as you can, and take pride every day in what you’re doing. If you’ve ever questioned your value as a professional or to your community, that’s in the past now. Those of us who can’t help directly salute you We’re thinking about you and supporting you every day.