Pandemic response leads to bike shop business boom

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — While COVID-19 has chilled some industries, it’s a different story for bicycle shops in West Michigan.

“As soon as we opened the doors on April 25, it’s been a madhouse,” said Joe Morello, manager of Village Bike and Fitness off Kalamazoo Avenue near 60th Street SE in Kentwood.

On April 24, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order allowing bicycle repair and maintenance shops to resume business. Since then, business has shifted into high gear.

The service manager for Freewheeler Bike Shop in Grand Rapids told News 8 Wednesday that this has been one of the busiest weeks in the shop’s 42-year history.

He said the business has about 300 bicycles in to repair and can’t keep new bikes on the shelves.

“We’ve had a line for about three weeks every day,” he said.

Morello said Village Bike and Fitness has been “absolutely inundated,” to the point that the store has had to lock its doors and force customers to wait in line to keep its 1:1 ratio of masked customers and employees intact to curb the risk of COVID-19.

Morello says while spring is normally a busy time for bicycle shops, repair orders have doubled with a three to four-week waiting period.

“(We’re) absolutely inundated,” he said, adding that it’s “basically the same story” at all four store locations.

And if you’re thinking of buying a bicycle, “you better do it fast,” said Morello.

He says while his store has some bikes in stock, inventory is getting thin and restocking is becoming an issue since COVID-19 has stalled bicycle manufacturing.