Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

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The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

How bike shops have managed to stay in business in 2020

Local bike shops have managed to thrive over the past year despite the obstacles that 2020 has presented to them and small businesses alike have seen a tremendous increase in business. Photo by Logan Martinez

 

Small businesses across the country have been plagued with uncertainty by the COVID-19 shutdowns. A study by Yelp in September showed that 60% of businesses that closed down due to COVID-19 are to remain permanent closures. The unsuspected standing small business among the rest is bike shops. However, local cyclists, bike mechanics and leisure riders alike found little surprise in the sport’s upward soar. 

Local bike shops have managed to thrive over the past year despite the obstacles that 2020 has presented to them and small businesses alike have seen a tremendous increase in business. In March, NPD reported that adults were buying bikes for their own leisure at 121% and BMX bikes were being bought by a 56% increase. When the pandemic began, spring was about to begin, and days were getting longer. People were no longer able to go to the gym, which means they had to find other ways to stay active and stay busy, while maintaining social distancing guidelines. This led to the bike boom of 2020.

Roy Diaz, 33, owner of Aljek Skate Shop in Anaheim has seen his fair share of struggles throughout the pandemic. “It is hard to get sale products because companies are mainly sold out of all their inventory,” said Diaz. 

Diaz had his shop closed for four months and has not seen an increase of business since he reopened. “Customers mainly want our old name brand products to be on sale still but don’t understand that there is a shortage of skateboard products. However, they don’t want to go pay full price at another store.”

Mike Franze, owner of Fullerton Bicycle Co. and Buena Park Bicycle Co., has seen a tremendous increase of business. He said that his business has gone up 300% in sales. Franze mentioned that running a bike shop during this time has been very chaotic. “We saw people transition from taking the trip to Hawaii to buy a bike,” he says. Franze believes this bike boom emerged because people were not able to travel anymore and were forced to stay home.

Kerrie Von Korper, co-owner of Papa Wheelie Bicycles in Garden Grove believes cycling is good for families. 

“It’s something the entire family can do,” Von Korper mentioned. Her business has seen success early on from the bike boom and bikes were selling at a rapid pace. She has seen an influx of people come in to buy bicycles, it’s not just people doing it for sport or recreational use but that it’s everyone. “Recreation makes up the majority of our sales. We’re more than happy to support any type of riding,” says Von Korper. Some brands Papa Wheelie Bicycles have consistently carried throughout the pandemic are SE, Haro and Fit. Von Korper is hoping to get more brands in the coming winter. 

Shops have been able to maintain business by performing maintenance on bicycles. Photo by Logan Martinez

Mike Franze too has seen an influx of people come shop at his two stores and he is all for it. “You get a whole slew of different types of people who are looking into bikes,” says Franze. He believes that small bike shops are good for people who want to get into cycling because the shops are going to be very helpful for new riders. 

Franze explains that bikers can get a more personalized experience at a local shop because of their expertise. “You come to Fullerton, we’re gonna get you the right size. Cause you’re 6’2 so I’m 5’6. You and I aren’t gonna ride the same bike. Target doesn’t do that. Target just sells bikes that fit most,” says Franze. Buena Park Bicycle Co. and Fullerton Bicycle Co. have stayed true to brands like Giant, Santa Cruz Bicycles and Electra.

However, It has been difficult for Kerrie Von Korper’s shop to get new bicycles in stock because of back orders from overseas. “Part of business has declined because of supply chain issues,” she says. Franze has faced similar issues with supply. Around March he had about 150 bikes out on the floor and when he came back to work after the weekend he only had five bikes left on the floor.

Both have been able to maintain business by performing maintenance on bicycles. They both said that other local shops had to cut off performing service on people’s bicycles because the demand has been so high. These shops were unable to return people’s bikes on time or take new maintenance requests until they could catch up on orders.

Franze said that some of the other local shops have had to stop scheduling maintenance appointments for six to eight weeks because the demand has been so high since there has been more bike sales for shops. That created more work for other bike shops. Von Korper says maintenance is 30% of their work right now. “But as difficulty with obtaining bicycles continues, this percentage will increase,” she says.

Franze said that they will work on any bike and that it doesn’t matter if they bought it from a major department store or if it’s a recreational bike.“Our policy is as long as a bike comes to our shop. I don’t care if it comes from Target or Walmart you know,” says Von Korper. She had to close her shop up to three days a week just to meet the demand of maintenance. Currently they close for one day a week just so they can service bicycles.

Prices for maintenance varies for these shops. Bearing checks, derailleurs and cable inspections are what typically get checked whenever someone brings a bike in for a tune up. Papa Wheelie charges $10 for a tube replacement per wheel and $25 for tubeless mounting per wheel. Some of the more expensive types of services they offer are box build, which can vary from $45-$125 or a frame build-up which is $150.

Cyclist Rosie Navarro, 30 has owned her road bike and mountain bike consistently for 11 years now and agrees with Ortega, that biking can be a form of stress

“Cyclists need bike shops because of time and expertise. If you have time to fix your own bike, that’s awesome but, some people are busy and others need help,” says Navarro. Photo by Logan Martinez

relief. “The freedom and sound of gliding through the wind, hearing the birds while riding through the forest or listening to the ocean waves makes everything so peaceful.” Navarro has shopped at Fullerton Bicycle Co. for four years now and believes riders need these smaller shops because they take the time to help you more than a major business would. 

“Cyclists need bike shops because of time and expertise. If you have time to fix your own bike, that’s awesome but, some people are busy and others need help,” says Navarro.

Mike Russel, 39, also rides a road bike and a mountain bike. “I get to connect with nature and disconnect with the digital world, and have time to myself to decompress,” says Russel. The way Russel and other bikers alike see it, bike shops are what makes biking so great. “Bike shops provide the missing piece between riders and riding.”