Bicycle retailers and repair services all over Vancouver Island Island are seeing an increase in business as more people turn to cycling to keep themselves busy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The North Park Bike Shop in Victoria has seen a huge spike in demand for bicycle repairs and they’re busier than they’ve ever been.
“We’ve had more and more bikes here than we’ve ever had,” said Theo Merson, an employee at the store. “We probably had the other day. At the end of the day when we were taking all of the bikes into the shop, we must have had maybe over 100 bicycles here. It’s pretty wild.”
In Langford, Goldstream Bicycles has had people lining up outside the door waiting for their turn to go inside the store.
“People lining up for a bike shop? That’s a new thing,” said Steven Hurdle, owner of the shop. “You might line up for the latest blockbuster movie. But for a bike shop? That’s new.”
It’s a boom in business none of the retailers saw coming, as shopping malls, barbershops and gyms have had to close their doors while people stay at home to minimize the risk of spreading the virus.
“People can’t go to the gym, people don’t want to get on the bus and many people are at home and stir-crazy and need some fresh air and need some vitamin D,” said Hurdle. And that’s why people are turning to an activity like cycling.
Hurdle said one of the biggest changes has been clientele. Instead of seeing the seasoned veterans looking for high-quality bikes, he and other bicycle shops are seeing customers buying the moderately priced ones that are used more commonly for transportation.
“[We’re] seeing a lot of people come back to cycling after a long absence,” he explained. “A lot of these people aren’t … bike enthusiasts, but they’re people who are excited to try it again. So that’s really exciting. Seeing all those new faces has been a real pleasure.”
Merson said the North Park Bike Shop is having a similar experience, with people bringing old bicycles into the shop for repair.
“We’ve seen many people who have an old bike they’ve had sitting in their garage or their basement for a number of years,” said Merson. “But they’re now thinking, hey, maybe now is the time [for me to] get back on my bike again.”
Russ Hay’s The Bicycle Shop has had business increase by about 20 per cent and now they’re looking to hire more people.
“We’re looking for people who are potentially out of work short-term,” said co-owner Erin Clermont. “If it’s the right fit, it could be a long-term thing, but [at least] just to get through the next few months.”