Pandemic leads to surge in sales, struggles for local bike shops

Business News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — While the bicycle business has been booming during the COVID-19 pandemic, two local shops tell Eyewitness News it’s been tough to keep it going.

Nancy Berretta from Hull, Mass., visited the East Bay Bike Path with a few friends.

“We always do things together, so we decided to come here because one of my friends said it’s beautiful to ride here in Rhode Island,” she said.

Prior to the get-together, Berretta said her bike needed a tune-up.

“I had had it in the shed so I had to drop it off, and there was wait of a month to have it serviced,” she recalled.

And she’s not alone. Eamon McGlynn, the owner of Friendly Bicycle on Ives Street in Providence, said it’s taking longer to get bikes back to their owners due to a lack of supplies.

“The whole bicycle industry is sort of on its knees because the supply chain’s down,” he said.

McGlynn said he opened his shop about a year and a half ago.

“I had been in the industry for a while and wanted to do my own thing,” he said. “I started overhauling old bikes and then as just a way to fill in the gaps in between the times I wasn’t selling them, I started taking on repairs.”

Despite the struggle to find items like brake pads, inner tubes and replacement wheels, he said business has been great as of late.

“Through March and April, I sold more bikes than I did in the entirety of last year,” McGlynn said.

Providence Bicycle has been in businesses since the early 90s. Its storefront in East Providence is filled with bikes – but they’re not for sale.

“All these bikes right now are getting some sort of service, whether it be tune-ups or simple tire changes, flat tires, anything really,” store manager Joshua DaSilva explained.

DaSilva said that location is completely sold out of bikes, most of which come from Taiwan.

“A lot of the factories weren’t producing bikes at the time because they were taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID, so there was no overstock,” he said. “So when the bikes sold out, there was nothing left to buy.”

Typically, companies come out with new models this time of year, according to DaSilva.

“They stopped producing the 2020 models, so there’s no overstock and we’re pretty much waiting for 2021 to come out,” he added.

Both McGlynn and DaSilva said they’ll continue to help their customers as best they can.

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