We have received numerous emails and one press release after another over the last few months informing us of how COVID-19 has impacted the bike industry in various respects. Races have been canceled or postponed, trade shows have been postponed, cancelled or conducted online, and the Olympics are now rescheduled for next year. Brands have laid off employees, instated new policies and programs to get products into the hands of consumers, and switched production to manufacture PPE for healthcare workers, to name a few. We've got a full timeline here
and have been keeping track of the Good News from the Industry here
Bike shops are, in many ways, the heart and soul of cycling. Many riders purchased their first bike from one, make friends there, go there for advice, meet up at them for group rides, and stop by just to talk about bikes or have a beer. A lot has changed recently, forcing retailers to quickly react and develop new strategies for doing business. We checked in with a mix of them and asked a few questions to see what they've done, how the pandemic has impacted their business, and their thoughts about the future.
This will be a two-part series. We have reached out to numerous other retailers, globally, and will provide a follow up to this story when we talk with more retailers as time progresses.
The Hub and Pisgah Tavern - Pisgah Forest, North CarolinaThe Hub is one of the premier bike shops (with a bar) on the East Coast of the United States. Sitting squarely at the entrance to the popular and rugged Pisgah National Forest trails, the store provides a full-service bike shop and sells outdoor goods for other trail activities. In normal times, it's common to see dozens of patrons outside on a sunny weekday enjoying a post-ride beverage and food from one of the rotating food trucks. Currently, most local trails are closed and travelers from outside the county are not welcome. thehubpisgah.com
Have you laid off staff?Sam Salman, Owner:
We have laid off zero staff. We have continued to keep all 22 on the payroll.
Are you selling more, less, or the same?SS:
We are selling much less than needed. Without the doors/trails open, the shop is unsustainable.
Are you doing online orders, curbside pick-up, or in-store?SS:
We have developed and opened an online store. It has been doing well for our branded merchandise and we are super thankful to all that have placed orders. The Pisgah Tavern is still offering to-go packaged beer and wine, with curbside service.
What is your safety protocol? How has that changed?SS:
We have been operating on an “Open with Closed Doors” scenario. Basically, appointment only service and curbside call ahead for bike and gear purchases. We have hand-san, wipes, and disinfectants being used on a schedule and continue to keep distancing.
How have the customers changed? Are you noticing more core cyclists or new riders?SS:
It has been a solid "local love" scene. We have had a slew of bikes and online orders headed out-of-state, but the majority of service has been locals. Exercise, being an essential activity, has kept the pathways and limited trails busy.
What is your prediction of long-term outcomes? How do you believe this will impact you over the next year?SS:
As long as the PPP comes through, we will be able to regain enough steam to turn the engine back over. Pisgah will be overrun quickly when things do open up, and we will be ready with arms wide open. We were very fortunate to have had a great 2019, which has floated us to today. Our staff has been flexible and trusts the long game. I believe it will take 16-24 months to get back on track. Much will depend on Pisgah/DuPont re-opening trail access to hikers and bikers.
Trailhead Cyclery - San Jose, CaliforniaSituated in the California Bay Area, circumstances were somewhat different than other places in the United States due to an earlier "shelter in place" order. Like most shops in California did when they heard the news of the order, Trailhead covered up all the windows and shut down business. Then they made voicemail changes, updated Google hours, updated their website, and sent out social media notices and email newseltters. They also had to contact all of the service customers who had bikes in for repair… as owner Lars Thomsen says, "it’s a big deal closing a shop!" Then they got word that bicycle shops are designated essential businesses and as such, were allowed to stay open. However, opening back up was not an easy choice to make.
After much thought, advice from friends, colleagues, and staff, Trailhead decided as a crew to open back up. Back to changing the voicemail, new Google hours, another new website home page, and all the rest. Some of the staff couldn’t return to work for various reasons. Whether it was that they were over 65 or near to it, living with grandparents, living with ill parents, students with crazy new online schedules, or just not ok with the risk, they did not have a full crew opening back up. trailheadcyclery.com
Have you laid off staff?Lars Thomsen, Owner:
I haven’t laid anybody off, in fact I just hired a full-time mechanic and would hire two more if I find ‘em. We hired a full-time sales employee as well bringing us up to 21 employees in our 5000 square foot shop. The shop is busier than normal and we are selling all sorts of bikes and gear. The one area that is really fun to see selling really well is all the DIY stuff. Cleaners, lubricants, tools, sealants, repair stands, and all the small parts that go with, like brake pads, tires, bleed kits, spokes, cables, and housing.
How has what you are selling and the way you're selling changed?LT:
Thankfully, we launched our new web store just days before the SIP came down hard on everyone! It’s been a quick learning experience for the crew to handle a new stream of sales from our web store and Specialized. Specialized really stepped up for their dealers and made it really easy for folks to buy on their website and choose the shop they wish to pick up the product from. Trail Head Cyclery was in the top ten shops nationwide for folks using this shopping tool they call Click’n Collect. Other suppliers like QBP, Hawley and BTI stepped up as well, filling web orders and sending who knows how many small packages. They all dropped their shipping minimums for freight deduct and have really busted out to help the dealers like us.
Are you doing online orders, curbside pick-up, or in-store? What is your safety protocol? How has that changed?LT:
We adjusted our hours from 10 to 7 down to 11 to 5 so that we could spend some time cleaning before and after hours. We also use the time to return all the voicemails and emails, collect orders, and ready them for curbside pickup. We keep the double doors wide open so folks can come and go without touching the handles. Signage greets folks at the door stating that we are open BUT… the 6 Foot Rule is in effect! Yield for customers leaving the shop. Limit 5 customers inside at a time. Hand sanitizers made with 91% isopropyl mixed with aloe vera are everywhere - made by my wife since you can’t go buy the stuff. We taped off the checkout areas encouraging the 6-foot rule and have signage all around the shop reminding people, “hey, we may be open but this is serious folks!”
Many customers really understand the extra effort we are putting in to stay open and stay as safe as possible. Others just don’t get it and walk right up to you, or they are just killing time walking around, and sometimes we have to remind them it’s not the time or place for hanging out. We get it, we want to hang out too! But now just isn’t the time. I found a dealer to sell us two dozen matching bright green bandanas for all the staff to wear and that really helps put the message out that we need to be cautious. And, we look like badass vigilantes...
How have the customers changed? Are you noticing more core cyclists or new riders?LT:
Our core customers have been so supportive and it makes me super appreciative of them and the cycling community. In addition to the core customers, we’ve made so many new friends… 220 new customers in April alone! Remember cantilever brakes? How about Girvin suspension? Stumpjumpers with cursive writing on the downtube? Oh boy, all the classics are being pulled from the rafters and we’re selling 26” tires like crazy! Dried out dust wipers and rock hard brake pads... even all the Juicy brakes that should have died a long time ago are resurfacing. Between all the repairs and building sold bikes, the service crew is pinned and I’m seeing some repairs scheduled outside of two weeks now.
What is your prediction of long-term outcomes? How do you believe this will impact you over the next year?LT:
Thankfully most folks are super understanding and I really think all of this is leading to a raised appreciation for the local bike shops. As stated by the US Government, we are an Essential Business and that is elevating our importance among the average citizens. I think some good will come from this. For 23 years, I’ve been working towards elevating the value of the professional bicycle mechanic and I think more has been done to accomplish that in the past month than those 23 years combined!
I predict that cycling is experiencing a rebirth even bigger than the years of Lance Armstrong. It is fueled by the development of eBikes and foundation work laid out by organizations like People for Bikes, the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, and Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz. Families are riding together for the first time and solo rides are growing in popularity by necessity, with social media platforms to share progress and videos. Customers are learning how to buy online from their local bike shops and pick up in-store, set up service appointments, and respect the expert advice of the seasoned staff. Yes, cycling is growing exponentially and there aren't many downsides to that.
TechnOlodge - Saint-Sauveur, Québec, CanadaTechnOlodge is a six-hundred square foot shop of three employees approximately forty-five minutes north of the eastern Canadian metropolis of Montreal in Saint-Sauveur. The town is a tourist destination for city dwellers looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of cars, buses, their daily routines, and fast-paced lifestyles. They see snow six months of the year with sunshine and 25c temperatures the other six. Life up there is much different from much of the world. People are properly resilient and live in a life of extremes.
The shop has only been open for a year and specializes in premium repairs for riders that are willing to pay for quality over quantity, as they say. If you passed the shop on the street may not know we even exist as they're located in the basement of a busy coffee shop. There's an "underground speakeasy" vibe and business is reliant on word of mouth and the quality of each and every job that goes out the door. TechnOlodge keeps less than five stock bikes on the "sales floor" at any given time and sells more custom, one-off builds, than stock bikes. technolodge.ca
Have you laid off staff?Addison Zawada, Shop Manager:
Fortunately for us the necessity to lay off staff has not shown its face. This is partially due to a small staff initially but also has to do with the seasonal timing of the beginning of this global lifestyle change. For a bike shop in this area and environment, COVID-19 happened at the best time possible. I will elaborate more on that in a moment but, In short, we are making the best of a bad situation.
Are you selling more, less, or the same?AZ:
This only our second spring season so our answer could be biased in that sense. Our sales are exponentially higher than they were this time last year. Three factors come in to play here for us: Firstly, this date one year ago we had only been open for twenty-nine days. Secondly, because of COVID-19, there are three fewer shops open in our area. Currently, we are the only shop open and this gives us a chance to bring in customers that might have shopped elsewhere previously. Third, in our area, the situation that has presented itself has led more people to venture outside and enjoy the fresh spring weather. Social distancing is very simple in this area because the population is low and the area available for activities is vast and growing every day. As the snow melts away it sheds light on new areas, trails, and places to explore that have been dormant since November. People want to get out of the house, they want to escape from reality for a few moments a day, a bike delivers this opportunity.
Are you doing online orders, curbside pick-up, or in-store?AZ:
For in-store, we have moved to appointment only for the time being though we have adapted a combination of all three. Not curbside per se, but we have grown our delivery business drastically. I personally am in an old school mindset and very stubborn to move more of the bike industry online. It is something that I have been very against for a long time as I watch many of the shops I grew up in closing doors because companies are going consumer direct. In this time though, it has become a necessity for survival and safety. We have adapted our online site to schedule and sell everything we have in the shop, from gear to services. The ability to book service appointments has been a game-changer for us and is one of the more positive outcomes of this whole thing.
What is your safety protocol? How has that changed?AZ:
We are adapting every day and changing our shop structure to fit the situation. We recently remodeled our shop to be more open and welcoming to customers. We are a very small shop at six-hundred and forty square feet so that remodel came at a very disappointing time as we have had to reconfigure and restructure the shop to a more constricted space. Before, our workspace, boutique, parts wall, and cash register were all in one open floor plan allowing customers up-close access. I feel it creates a more positive feel and a more trusting environment since they are able to see everything we do all the time. But now we have had to split the floor into two. Our personalized work area and the sales floor. We have limited customers in the boutique area to two maximum and moved a single work stand out front to inspect and write up repair quotes outside of the physical workspace. On the work side of things we are maintaining our space but have had to restrict and limit space to our customers for everyone's safety.
How have the customers changed? Are you noticing more core cyclists or new riders?AZ:
New cyclists are a rare occurrence in our area as most people have and ride their bikes often. In the community, most people are outdoor enthusiasts. With that being said we have had a large influx of customers that have and ride a bike but are now putting much more time on the saddle and thus causing them to appreciate a properly working bike. We are seeing a lot more people taking better care of a bike that may have been neglected for years.
What is your prediction of long-term outcomes? How do you believe this will impact you over the next year?AZ:
For the longterm, we have completely restructured our planned summers and we have backed down from seven days per week to only six. This will allow us to have Sundays off to ride together, host cookouts, and spend more time with friends and family. We will extend that schedule until the end of the year, at least. For our business, I believe for this outbreak to be a blessing in disguise though I know this is not the case for a lot of shops and businesses out there. I am thankful for our situation but also sympathize with those businesses that are struggling. This is an opportunity for us to all take a step back, slow down, and get an outside perspective. It's a great, unfortunately, forced, episode that will force us to adapt to the way industry is ultimately going. On the flip side, I hope that bike manufacturers also see this as a realization that brick and mortar stores are a necessary part of the business just as much as they are. Customers need both to survive and direct-to-consumer is not a way to provide balance to both ends of the spectrum.
Fat Tire Farm - Portland, OregonFat Tire Farm is a core mountain bike only shop located in NW Portland, OR that sells everything from kids' bikes up to high-end custom mountain bike builds. They operate an in-house suspension service center and even have a demo center in Hood River. While the demo center isn't doing much business at the moment, the Portland shop has been quite busy. Portland is an anomaly for a mountain bike shop as the city hasn't had many legal trails until recently when the local trail alliance was able to procure a trail system 15-minutes from town. This has helped the scene and stoke for mountain bikes in Portland, a city that prides itself for two-wheeled transportation, has grown in recent times and become stronger than ever. fattirefarm.com
Have you laid off staff?Barry O'Connor, General Manager:
We’ve had to lay one person off and it was strictly so we could maintain social distancing. The back of the shop was crowded, so one mechanic is on temporary unemployment.
Are you selling more, less, or the same?BO:
We’re selling "different". We’re still doing plenty of service and bike sales but the high-end market has fallen off a bit and there are a lot of newer riders looking for an entry-level mountain bike. A lot of people are dusting bikes off in the garage for the first time in years so service has changed a good bit. Most of the trails around here have been closed for the last six weeks or so so people aren’t riding as much as typical. We don’t have as many higher-end bikes in for regular mantainence.
Are you doing online orders, curbside pick-up, or in-store?BO:
We’re doing curbside pick up. Our doors are locked and we aren’t letting customers in. We have a tent and racks set up out front and we are checking service bikes in outside and bringing bikes out for customers to test ride. We’re sanitizing all of the bikes as they go in and out.
What is your safety protocol? How has that changed?BO:
Everyone in the shop is wearing facemasks. We’ve moved some mechanics out onto the sales floor to space them out more since the doors are locked and we're going through large amounts of alcohol spraying bikes down when they come in and out. It’s a challenge asking customers to maintain 6’ of distance. Some people are conscious of it but others are somewhat cavalier and have little regard.
How have the customers changed? Are you noticing more core cyclists or new riders?BO:
It’s a mixed bag but there are definitely more new riders. The silver lining I see is that there’s the potential for a whole new group of people to get into the sport right now. There’s more time, kids are home from school, they have a bike and they’re going to ride it more than ever - even if it’s not the best one. It’s exciting to see that they could become part of our community. There are lots of new faces, the majority of people we are seeing are new faces but there are still a lot of our same customers too.
What is your prediction of long-term outcomes? How do you believe this will impact you over the next year?BO:
There’s no way to know. Optimistically, it could be a growth year for cycling, and people are going to have more time on their hands... maybe they are going to reflect on what matters and refocus their energies. We can hope we get more people out on the trails. We’re tracking well for the year financially which is consistent with other shops on the region but at some point, the economy will impact what’s happening at the shop level but I hope the interest int he sport will continue beyond this period of time.
Over the Edge Sports - Fruita, ColoradoOver the Edge is an iconic shop located in the riding destination of Fruita, CO. Fruita sits in the western part of the state, straddling Interstate 70 and is a no-brainer stop on any cross-continent mountain bike trip. Tourism has helped the small town grow from a fruit-producing and farming culture into one that is largely sustained by tourism. The town continues to grow each year but with COVID-19, tourists have been far fewer than normal and bike rentals aren't bringing in business as they usually do. otesports.com
Have you laid off staff?Landon Monholland, General Manager:
We had to let our part-time staff go. We employ 17 people in peak season. Our season is so intense in March/April/May that we rely on part-timers to make it all work. We retained our core 12 full-timers thanks to the SBA loans. Now that our store has re-opened we are getting "blown to pieces" and customers seem to think we should still be able to offer our normal "same hour" service that we normally do. But the six weeks we were closed, it gutted the budget for the staff that makes that possible.
Are you selling more, less, or the same?LM:
Everything has changed, we are normally a destination bike shop servicing folks on bucket-list mountain bike vacations. We normally service bikes within the hour while folks shop for our branded merchandise. We normally demo high-end bikes from dream brands, but unfortunately, we shut down our demo bike use to curb the allure of traveling to our small town. Despite Colorado's stay at home order, we were seeing folks fleeing the high country mountain towns. Those folks were coming from Colorado's Covid 19 hot spots. We decided to close to protect our staff and to not further the problem. While we believe that mountain biking and camping are safe activities, the folks that were coming here were mostly NOT keeping to themselves. There was a lot of 'vacationing' going on. On the flip side, from Fruita locals, there was a lot of online bullying and shaming of folks who came here to ride their bike and safely go back home. It's easy when you live in a rad place like Fruita CO to moan about people coming to your town, but realizing that you are essentially 'locked down' in paradise needs to be realized.
Are you doing online orders, curbside pick-up, or in-store?LM:
We hastily created an online store, but so far it hasn't done much.
What is your safety protocol? How has that changed?LM:
We have opened our large back window to talk with customers at a distance. We have a portable sink outside and the city allowed us to block off two parking spaces for more room outside. We have a rope across our back door and we keep customers coming inside the store to five or less. Our front door is locked so that we can control the entrance and exit and all employees wear masks.
How have the customers changed? Are you noticing more core cyclists or new riders?LM:
We are seeing a massive interest in cycling by folks who've never really done it before. Hordes of discount store bikes have been brought in to be "serviced" and we spend a lot of time delicately trying to address the problem of the BSO (bike shaped object). We try to do an honest repair estimate on those bikes despite most repairs on them being not cost-effective. Out on the trails we are seeing families with younger children riding. Folks who would normally be doing ball sports or playing video games. I predict a whole generation of "COVID Kids" to be coming up who discovered mountain biking during this crazy time in history. That part of this nightmare is RAD! #covidkidsride
What is your prediction of long-term outcomes? How do you believe this will impact you over the next year?LM:
I predict we'll celebrate our 25th anniversary in year 26 and it will be awesome! March, April, and May represent about 60% of our year's revenue so the timing of this couldn't have possibly been worse. However, our amazing trails aren't going anywhere and as long we can keep our kick-ass staff we'll see things back to "normal" in 2021. I'd like to give a huge shout out to everyone who chose to "raincheck" their demo reservations instead of demanding a refund. Overall, humans have been pretty awesome to us. Mountain bikers are a pretty cool group of people as a whole!
Fanatik Bike Co. - Bellingham, WAFanatik is a large shop located in the flourishing bike mecca of Bellingham, Washington, just a couple hours north of Seattle. The store features a full-service brick and mortar establishment but the shop has also become a well-known and established online retailer specializing in custom high-end mountain bike builds. Riders are able to order nearly anything imaginable from the Fanatik's website... from custom bikes and wheels to parts and accessories. They also offer a full repair service and bike rentals. The nearby trails are regarded by many as some of the best riding that can be found. fanatikbike.com
Have you laid off staff?
No, we have not had to lay-off any staff! We actually hired a few new folks in early March in preparation for a busy summer, right before the severity of all this started to hit home. The main thing we've been striving for throughout this wild ride is to keep our employees safe, and part of that is keeping them employed. Thanks to our e-commerce store, we’ve been able to do that, and continue helping our customers get out on their bikes. We’re all feeling very fortunate to still have jobs right now.
Are you selling more, less, or the same?
We are on track with last year, which feels sort of miraculous. If you start to really look at what social distancing means for a lot of people, and what forms of recreation many folks still have access to, it makes sense though.
Are you doing online orders, curbside pick-up, or in-store?
Through our e-commerce store, we are able to get products to both local and national customers. We set up a "curbside pickup" option that allows our local customers to find what they need online, and swing by during normal business hours to pick it up. This is done at a kiosk we put together in the parking lot since our storefront is closed to the public in order to keep the employees that are on location as safe as possible. The service department is up and running in a similar way, wherein people drop their bike off outside, we get them a quote, and invoice them through an online transaction.
What is your safety protocol? How has that changed?
We've got quite a bit going on. Anyone who is able to work from home is doing so. For those of us who need to be on-location, we are maintaining a 6-foot distance from all other employees. We've got a big supply of disinfectant wipes, which we're using to regularly clean our individual workspaces, along with cleaning common areas (bathrooms, break room, etc) after each use. Instead of sharing phones, we each keep a personal phone and landlines that might encounter more than one user get cleaned after each use. We also have policies in place so anyone who thinks they might be getting sick makes their supervisor aware of it immediately. The shop owners have been incredibly generous in offering all of our employees an extra week of paid time off to help with situations where we may not be able to work for an extended period of time. We’re all very grateful for that.
How have the customers changed? Are you noticing more core cyclists or new riders?
People are out mounting biking more regularly than they have in the past, there's no doubt about that. We've seen a large number of long-time mountain bikers take the opportunity to invest a bit more into their bikes, whether it's a new custom wheelset or upgraded suspension. But we're also seeing a number of newer cyclists — those who have maybe dabbled in the past — really jump into it now that mountain biking is one of the more acceptable sports in terms of social distancing. My co-worker mentioned that he ran into a lady on our local trails a few evenings ago with a Ripmo AF she'd just picked up from us. She was a new rider, and really appreciative that we'd been able to help her get out of the house, get some exercise, and even just smile. Biking will do that to you, and we're really grateful we're allowed to keep providing that for folks.
What is your prediction of long-term outcomes? How do you believe this will impact you over the next year?
That's a tough question because this is all an unprecedented, historic time. We're very fortunate in that we already had a strong online sales platform in place, which has really been the main factor in our ability to weather this all. Beyond that, we're really just figuring it out as we go. One thing that I personally have found really helpful, as someone working from home, is to make concerted efforts to keep up verbal communication with my co-workers. It hasn't always played out, but we try and do a weekly video meeting just to check-in, seeing how we're all doing and kind of setting that baseline of "we're in this together." I definitely encourage anyone working from home to do the same, it's helped keep us all sane.
Skirack - Burlington, VermontSkirack is a large shop in the city of Burlington, Vermont - close to great mountain biking, skiing, and on the shore of Lake Champlain. The shop has been around for over fifty years and has grown into one of the top specialty retailers in the region for not only bikes but other outdoor goods. Skirack would typically be entering into their busiest season for mountain bikes as the snow is melting and people are trading out their skis for two wheels. Due to COVID-19, the shop has made some big changes in order to keep customers and staff safe as people are still looking to be outside, now more than ever. skirack.com
Have you laid off staff?Max VanOrman, Company Leader:
Initially, we did lay off some staff. After the small business loans from the government came through we were able to continue working and have started to be able to hire staff back.
Are you selling more, less, or the same?MV:
This is the time normally where things are ramping up for bike sales in the year with the season changing. Things are definitely still ramping up and we've found creative ways to serve the public and get people on bikes without face-to-face interaction. We are very much still busy but in a different way than in the past.
Are you doing online orders, curbside pick-up, or in-store?MV:
We're doing full curbside pick up. If someone purchases something online or over the phone, we can bring it out. We're allowing drop off for service bikes and we have a sanitizing process for bikes in order to stay on top of safety procedures.
What is your safety protocol? How has that changed?MV:
We have installed plexiglass barriers to separate our work stations in the service area so techs have a safe place to work. Everyone is required to wear a mask and we clean and sanitize every few hours on top of lots of extra hand washing and surface cleaning.
How have the customers changed? Are you noticing more core cyclists or new riders?MV:
We've been around for 50 years and have a really good core community and that hasn't changed but we have gotten a lot more interest from entire families, where maybe one person or a couple didn't ride, in getting out together on bikes. I think the stimulus money has been helping that one member get a bike as well so it's really been a good mix of core riders along with new ones.
What is your prediction of long-term outcomes? How do you believe this will impact you over the next year?MV:
It's tough to say right now. There's so much changing on a daily basis. It's been nice that we've had business and our phones have been going off the hook so as long as orders and shipments continue to happen, we'll be in good shape to get back into the swing of it. One of the biggest things that has been out of our control are trail closures and the lack of trails being maintained due to social distancing regulations but the local trail advocacy groups are working hard on plans to get the trails back open and running. It's really awesome to see the bike industry is booming and people are trying to find ways to stay active and healthy.
Park City Bike Demos - Park City, UtahPark City Bike Demos was started in 2016-17 with a model that you could try any bike on the floor on the trail and as the bike was ridden more, the price would slowly become a better value. While that worked for a while, eventually the shop struggled and then changed hands to its current family owners. David Demartini says that his family took over the shop out of a passion for bikes and the idea that they could create a place that was cool and useful to the community. The model has changed to more of a traditional bike shop but they still have a full demo and rental fleet. There are standard brand-new bikes, accessories, and service department. While the shop is only in its second year, things are off to a good start, and April has been their busiest month yet. The focus is to be community centric... a place people can find what they need for their bike, have great service, and hang out... when the time is appropriate. parkcitybikedemos.com
Have you laid off staff? David Demartini, Owner:
No, we haven’t had to lay off any staff. Not having the doors open as we normally would, we delayed some seasonal staff but we’ve kept on all of our core staff.
Are you selling more, less, or the same?DD:
We are seeing more bikes go out the door than ever before. I think that with the restrictions in place, especially in towns that are outdoor and active focused people are more active. We’re seeing more bikes being sold and bikes that have been hanging up in the rafters coming back in to get back in shape. Participation in the sport seems to be going through the roof.
Are you doing online orders, curbside pick-up, or in-store?DD:
We’re doing curbside pickup for service and appointment only for sales. We take appointments by phone and online. One or two per hour, depending on what the appointment is looking for to limit the number of people in the shop and exposure. This also helps us give a great level of service to customers with the staff we have.
What is your safety protocol? How has that changed?DD:
For the past month, we’ve done appointment only. We require all of our staff to wear masks and sanitize anything and everything that people may contact during appointments. We encourage customers to wear masks and we have sanitization stations situated throughout the store space. That, along with limiting people in and out of the shop. Summit County, where we're located, has lifted regulations so in a week, we are going to transition to not requiring an appointment. We are following all of the guidelines that are recommended and required - things like plexiglass in front of registers, spacing on the floor, rental and merchandise sanitization protocol, steaming apparel that's been tried on, sanitizing test bikes, etc.
How have the customers changed? Are you noticing more core cyclists or new riders?DD:
I think we’re seeing similar core cyclists as we have seen in years past but we're also seeing a lot more new to the sport cyclists or at least recently renewed participation to the sport. The type of rider coming in is a bit more broad than we're used to which is a great sign for the sport.
What is your prediction of long-term outcomes? How do you believe this will impact you over the next year?DD:
That’s a tough one. I think if we take the immediate, what we’re seeing is that there are more people out enjoying riding bicycles in whatever shape or form which is a great thing for the industry and shops like ours. We hope that continues so more people re-adopt riding a bike or start riding for the first time. We hope those that already have done that will continue to do so. Bikes are an important and valuable piece of life and we’re super excited to see this as a silver lining in the situation. I think it’s hard to predict exactly what will happen but what we’re seeing now indicates we may see participation in the sport grow and I hope that’s the case.
Bike ComponentsThe outlier in this group of North American retailers is Bike Components, one of the largest online retailers in the world. Founded in 1997 and based in Germany, Bike Components ships worldwide, representing over 300 brands, carrying over 60,000 products, and employing nearly 200 people. The brand also has a brick and mortar retail store although, at the current time, it is closed due to COVID-19. We were able to touch base with CEO Philipp Simon to see how they were getting along despite the pandemic.bikecomponents.de
Have you laid off staff?Philipp Simon, CEO:
No! Quite the opposite. We were hiring. Especially for the logistics department.
Are you selling more, less, or the same?PS:
A lot more! We sold kids bikes like crazy... and Clif bars. I don’t know if that was for cycling actually or for the emergency depots. Plus, we saw a rather high interest in 26-inch tires. With so many people pulling out their old bikes during the “soft” lockdown here in Germany (where we’ve been allowed to ride bikes luckily), it almost felt like a revival of old standards. All in all, what makes me really happy is that we were still able to do our jobs and the demand won’t let us pause.
Has the way you process and fulfill orders changed?PS:
Yes, definitely. The biggest challenge was and still is to keep up with our standard lead times between incoming orders and delivery of the parcel. We are running special shifts in the logistics department on Sundays and holidays since the beginning of the lockdown. Our staff is literally giving everything to fulfill all incoming orders. Employees from all other departments (incl. marketing, product management, purchasing) are helping out there as well.
What is your safety protocol? How has that changed?PS:
The biggest change was the distance rule. You have to keep a distance of 2 meters to all of your colleagues. Missing high-fives or hugs or handshakes are not a problem. And meetings can be done digitally, that is no big deal. But in the warehouse and the logistics department, it affects the processes heavily when a runner can’t go directly to the packing station or two runners meet in the middle of a corridor. We also give out masks to those who want one, but wearing them is not mandatory. The distance rule is way more important. And we do not welcome visitors at the moment. Neither suppliers nor agencies nor media.
How have the customers changed? Are you noticing more core cyclists or new riders?PS:
We register a lot of new riders visiting our webshop these days. Plus, we see a high concentration on certain products of those new customers. The group of core cyclists grew as well, not that much, but still noticeable. In terms of products, these guys ordered pretty much what they would have ordered in a “regular” season.
What is your prediction of long-term outcomes? How do you believe this will impact you over the next year?PS:
There was a significant plus of people that enjoyed riding a bike in nature or commuted to work by bike during the lockdown. This was definitely catalyzing our business, but also the bike business in general. Despite the fact that local shops had to close their doors for several weeks. I hope all those people that have discovered the bike (again) recently, keep riding it. Be it for sports or transportation. And I think that we, the whole bike industry, can keep that fire burning. Thus, I see a lot of work ahead of us. And that is luckily very good news!