We sat down with our close friend and Co-Owner of Campus Cycles, Michael Bowers to catch up and learn first hand what it’s like running a bicycle shop during a pandemic. Here is what Michael had to say.
BS38: Because bicycles are considered essential, your shop was not required to shut down during the pandemic, correct? What were the major changes and steps the shop had to take in order to keep your employees and customers safe?
MB: That is correct, we have remained open throughout the pandemic, though we have been operating under modified hours and procedures. Our front door remains locked at all times, and we greet customers outside. Anyone potentially entering our shop MUST be wearing a mask (correctly) and must take a squirt of hand sanitizer as they enter.
BS38: Starting in April I recall seeing a major increase in bicycles on the roads and trails. According to a New York Times article some shops faced a shortage of bicycles due to the anxiety of public transportation and were selling twice as many bikes in comparison to years past. Did you experience similar accounts at your shop?
MB: We have experienced unprecedented sales this year, and as a result, have definitely been dealing with supplier shortages, both for bikes, and for parts and accessories.
BS38: How do you think bike usage will transform in the future? Will more and more people use bicycles as a main form of transportation or more so for recreational riding?
MB: It is our belief that we will continue to see an increase in bicycle popularity, both for transportation and for recreation. Bikes offer a very environmentally friendly transportation option, and are a great way to get exercise without having to go to the gym!
BS38: What is the shop’s position on E-Bikes, the future of E-Bikes and recent regulations that have come out on E-Bikes?
MB: We are a strong proponent of E-bikes! Our sales of e-bikes have actually more than doubled from 2019 to 2020. They are a great transportation option, and they offer the ability for people who may have had to give up cycling for one reason or another, to become reacquainted with the joy and freedom of cycling!
BS38: When comparing road, gravel and mountain, which discipline do you believe is the most popular today and best positioned for future growth?
MB: We see strong futures with all three, but gravel is definitely the ‘hot new thing!” We have seen a fairly substantial increase in interest in gravel bikes, and they are most definitely a hot seller for us!
BS38: What do you believe is the single biggest threat or factor to the bicycle industry? Be it infrasture (access to trails, safe bike lanes), aging demographic of users, generational differences in purchase behaviours and recreational pursuits, etc.
MB: Currently I’d say it’s supply. The demand for bikes has increased exponentially as a result of the pandemic, and while manufacturers and suppliers are doing the best they can, no one saw this coming. We have been lucky to have a strong industry partner in Trek Bicycles to keep our business up and going, and to help keep people riding!
BS38: How do you believe bike shops can best support event organizers and rides going forward as they dig themselves out of this pandemic?
MB: Virtual events are becoming the new normal, and shops should do everything in our ability (and budget) to continue to support these virtual events in order to keep promoters in business until we get back to a world where real, in-person events can safely take place again. This offers an opportunity for both shops and promoters to bring in a whole new crop of participants!
BS38: Is there anything else you would like to share in regards to cycling, being a business owner during 2020 or the Pandemic?
MB: Keep riding those bikes, and know that Campus Cycles will be here for you, through good times and bad, and don’t let the current situation wear you down. Keep following the rules, wear your masks, wash your hands, and observe social distancing, and together, we will get through this!