COVID-19 has truly changed the way society as a whole goes about its day-to-day lives. Kids are attending online classes, businesses are allowing their employees to work from home and restaurants are prohibiting dine-in customers and instead opting for curbside pickup or delivery.
With so many people now staying at home and practicing social distancing to flatten the curve, local economies have been devastated. Business that offer "essential services" have kept their doors open to dwindling customer traffic while other local retail businesses have been mandated to close with no reopen date in sight (if they're even able to whether the storm). As of now, bicycle shops are considered essential services and are allowed to continue serving their communities while following strict hygiene guidelines. But not surprisingly, many are struggling to stay in business.
Our local bike shops are more than just a place to buy gear. They're a local gathering place (and information source) for our cycling communities, and now more than ever they need our support. Don't abandon them during this worldwide pandemic; here are a few ways you can give them your business and show your support.
Commute by Bike
Public transportation has taken a hit over the past few weeks as regular commuters are rightfully forgoing sharing public spaces with a large number of other people. For those of us who are still working from the office (or going to and from the grocery store), commuting by bike is a great alternative. It's out in the fresh air, and it's an easy way to elevate your heart rate and get much-needed exercise.
How does this relate to supporting your bike shop? Give it a call and see what accessories they offer for commuters (backpacks, headlights or taillights, bell, handlebar bag), or if you're feeling especially inspired, see what deals they have on commuter-style bikes. Nothing will encourage you to get out of the house and exercise than a new bike.
Stock up on the Essentials
While this pandemic will (hopefully) only last a few more months, bike "consumables" obviously have a longer shelf life. Head to your local bike shop to purchase some of the essentials—new tires, tubes, CO2 cartridges, brake pads, gels—to give them your business while stockpiling for future rides.
Buy a Gift Card
All stocked up on gear? Buying a gift card is a great way to immediately support your local bike shop. Gift cards can be cashed in later for a tune-up or for other gear, but it gives the bike shop crucial income during a time where margins are paper thin and traffic is less than ideal.
Does your cycling computer have a cracked screen and only hold a charge for an hour? Is your drivetrain worn out? Now's a great time to upgrade components and pieces of gear you've been wanting to replace—this also includes new arm and leg warmers, a new helmet, etc. If it's been a while since you've been to your local bike shop, you'd be surprised how far technology has come in the past few years.
Get a Tune up
Many shops have noted an increase in people coming in for bike maintenance and tune-ups. More and more people are using cycling as a way to escape the confines of their home, and they're realizing their old bike sitting in the corner of the garage needs a bit of overdue TLC. If you fall into this camp (or you're a regular cyclist who has a few bikes due for their regular overhaul), don't hesitate and take your bike into your local shop. If you're worried about being in public, some shops are offering bike pick-up and drop-off for maintenance.
Try Something New
Many public trails are still open as an outlet for those of us on self-quarantine to get some sun and fresh air. If you've never tried mountain biking (or conversely, road biking), now is a great time to head to your local bike shop and take out one of its demo models for a test ride (or better yet, rent one of the rental bikes). If you're into it, talk with the shop and see what specials it's offering on new bikes, and don't forget to purchase all the sport-specific accessories!
Ask If Shipping Is Available
If your bike shop is too far to commute to, or you're in a high-risk area and you'd prefer to stay at home, give your bike shop a call and see if it has the gear you're looking for in stock. If so, go one step further and see if they'd be willing to ship your order directly to your door. Some shops are offering free shipping over a certain dollar amount, so ask what the policy is at your local shop.
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