Bike popularity booming and impacting local businesses
It’s not hard to understand why some people enjoy their time on a bike. “A bike always, for me, represents a little bit of freedom, personal space, a little time to kind of clear your mind,” says Kurt Scheisow, an avid cyclist and owner of Pete’s Garage bike shop in Green Bay. “And I think now, more than ever, that's important for people as they deal with what's going on.”
What's going on is the Covid-19 pandemic is crippling many businesses; but with bike shops on the Governor's list of essential businesses, some are finding ways to grow. “We have had a lot of customers recently buying their first bike, or at least considering it. It's something we've been able to adapt to,” says Matt Fisher of Broken Spoke Bike Studio in Green Bay.
Broken Spoke and Pete's Garage are among those that have adapted; their stores are only open by appointment, and customers have the option of selecting items online or over the phone, then scheduling a pick up or delivery. As these practices catch on and are successful, suppliers are passing it on to all of their customers. Pete Esser is a market developer for Specialized Bikes. “We have been sharing best practices with all of our retailers so that they can learn from each other as we adapt to these changing times.”
House calls have also increased. Pete's Garage has offered mobile repair service in the past, however-“This year we are seeing a tremendous increase in mobile service requests where people really would prefer to stay home,” says Schweisow. “Maybe just put the bike in their driveway, we roll up and fix it, we leave; there's no contact, we just email them the invoice and they're all set to go.”
Bike popularity is on the rise, and it's not just here. “In bigger cities the bicycle is really becoming the more effective means of transport; busses or trains are not the favorable choice right now,” says Esser.
And bikes are becoming the favorable choice, partly because of what they represent right now. “Liberation from people's quarantine cages at home,” said Fisher.