Bicycle shops’ inventory mostly spoken for | Local News
While the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered many businesses this spring, local bicycle shops have seen record numbers as people are stuck at home and are looking for a way to exercise. Yet, these bike shops are also being bit by the virus, due to its affects on the other side of the world.
Included in the governor’s list of “essential businesses,” bicycle shops have been permitted to keep their doors open even while others have been ordered closed. That doesn’t mean that all of them have stayed open, though.
Piche’s Ski and Sport in Gilford was closed to the public until earlier this week. However, the shop was doing business via curbside orders, both for new bikes and repairs. And they’ve been busy on both fronts.
Pat Bolduc, who runs the bicycle operation at Piche’s, said service has been able to continue without a “hiccup.” Sales, on the other hand, are about to hit a rough patch, due to the supply chain that delivers new bicycles to local showrooms.
Most bikes, especially those made for children or the entry-level adult category, are made in Asia, where production was shut down when the coronavirus infection began spreading in China. Bolduc said he’s sold out of most of his inventory, and has just a “very limited” supply remaining.
“We’re limited on bikes because everything’s shut down overseas for nine weeks, things aren’t going to be available for another month at least,” he said.
A few miles down the road, Myles Chase at MC Cycle and Sport said he’s seen much the same thing. He said his spring has been “definitely above average.”
“With everyone home from work, home from school, the demand for bikes has just been up. Not just here at the shop, but industrywide,” Chase said. “Typically, we can see spring inventory levels hold up until the end of May, then we get another shipment of early summer stock.”
This year, though, MC Cycle’s spring inventory started to dry up by mid-March, about a month and a half earlier than usual.
Service has also been rolling at MC Cycle. Chase said he saw that push early this spring, when people were starting to get uncomfortable about visiting their local health club, so they decided to dust off their bicycle to stay in shape.
As a proponent of the sport, Chase said it’s unpleasant to have to tell someone that he can’t help them get a new ride. One day last week, he had a woman call and ask about a bike in the $600 range. When he told her he had nothing that would work for her, she reported that his was the sixth shop she had called. He said he doesn’t know how soon his suppliers will be able to send him another delivery.
“They really don’t have a firm date on it yet, because like most of the bike brands out there, our price-point bikes are made in China, and their factories shut down 12, 16 weeks ago. At that time they would be working on our summertime inventory. Unless the brands expedite things, we could be without bikes for some time,” Chase said.
“The inventory is not even available for us to order,” said Steve Flagg, owner of The Nordic Skier in Wolfeboro. His shop deals in cross-country skis in the winter and switches to bicycles once the snow melts. Flagg said his shop has seen an unusually heavy repair load this year.
“It’s always busier in the spring for bike shops, but it’s got to be related to the current pandemic,” Flagg said.
The Nordic Skier has been bustling, even though Flagg didn’t open his doors to the public until this week. Anyone who wanted to buy a bike had to order it remotely, then pick it up at the curb. Even so, he’s getting close to sold-out for new bikes.
And if customers can’t get a new one, they want to get their old bike road-worthy.
“There definitely seems to be a lot of people bringing in their old bikes, they haven’t ridden it in years, they need a tune up and new tires. A lot of it is driven by what the world is experiencing,” Flagg said.
The bike shop owners all shared a hope that this sudden interest in cycling would lead to a lasting increase in the number of people who ride bikes.
“It seems like it’s inspiring people to get out the old bike and go out and give it another try. It could very well increase the numbers of users, and some of them may stick with it,” said Flagg.
Bolduc agreed, adding that there’s a lesson in this current situation about where our products are made: “I definitely think there’s going to be more cyclists in the future. And I hope people are going to think more local in the future, too.”
For Chase’s part, he said he’s just glad to see people getting outside.
“I hope we come out of this with more active individuals. Maybe not just cycling, I think a lot more people are out enjoying the outdoors, walking, running, hiking, riding. I hope that continues,” he said.