'It's been super busy': Bike stores hit high gear during pandemic
COQUITLAM, B.C. -- While the pandemic has been a struggle for many businesses, others have unexpectedly found themselves even busier.
Whether it’s because people are looking for something active to do as a family while distancing, or a new way to get to work, Metro Vancouver bike stores are seeing a surge in demand.
Store manager Kate Riabenka of Kinetik Cycles in Coquitlam has seen sales double – or more – on some days, and there’s also a wait for servicing.
“It’s been super busy since the whole pandemic started here and the whole shutdown kind of started,” she said. “We were not expecting that at all, basically.”
It’s been so busy, the store has asked customers to contact it via email, as workers there are not able to answer the phone. Riabenka said kids’ bikes have been big sellers, and so have bikes for commuting.
“That increased, as well. We sold all of our road bikes,” she said
Denman Bike Shop in Vancouver has also been busy. Julie Bischoff, who works there, said the store is seeing a significant demand for new bike sales, as compared to previous years.
“It has been a much bigger boom than we did anticipate,” Bischoff said. “There are a lot of bicycles, particularly in the entry-level categories, that are now selling out completely for the summer.”
At the same time, stores are also taking COVID-19 precautions, such as limiting the number of customers inside at one time.
Bischoff said bike sales and service at the Denman Bike Shop are by appointment, and the store is consulting with customers in advance by phone and email before they come in. Bikes are also sanitized before and after every test ride.
Riabenka said Kinetik Cycles is not allowing more than five customers in the store at a time. Customers can ring the doorbell and wait outside until someone leaves. Once inside, they’re asked to wash their hands if they want to touch any merchandise. Plexiglass barriers have also been installed at the counter.
Riabenka said the store is grateful for the support it has received, especially from customers who have to line up outside.
“We do really appreciate it,” she said. “And thanks for biking.”
As for the various reasons behind the spike in business, Riabenka suggested with kids at home alongside parents, it’s an activity they can do together.
“I can say this pandemic brought families together, and it’s not a good reason, but yeah, that’s what we see,” she said.
Bischoff said they are seeing more sales of commuter and “comfort” bikes (meant for more-casual riding), particularly women’s “city comfort” bikes.
“A lot of people are feeling uncomfortable with public transit, the gyms are closed,” Bischoff said. “A lot of these new riders that are getting into cycling right now are having the opportunity to discover just what a solution cycling is to many of today’s issues, whether it’s fitness, or transportation, stress relief, and, of course, pollution.”