Physical distancing rules lead to boom for Halifax bicycle shop

A bicycle shop in Halifax says business is booming as people look for ways to stay active and keep their distance from others amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cyclesmith saw a 42 per cent increase in sales in the first half of March compared to the year before.

“If we’ve been cooped up for two weeks in self-isolation, then we can get out for a bike ride and we get the fresh air and stuff, and we don’t have to be on top of each other,” said owner Andrew Feenstra. 

As of Tuesday, there are 147 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia.

Cyclesmith has adopted a long list of changes to keep staff and customers safe.

Customers at Cyclesmith in Halifax have to ring a doorbell to be served at the store to make sure everyone respects physical distancing procedures. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

The front door is now locked, and customers have to ring a bell to get in as a way to ensure only a few people are in the building at once.

Feenstra said they’re disinfecting every bike after a customer looks at it, and they’re not doing their traditional hands-on adjustments. Instead, they’re telling customers to come back when it’s safe to do so.

He said he does an assessment every night to decide if the business will remain open.

“We’re certainly not giving the service that we normally do, but we’re trying our best and our customers have also been very, very good with understanding that,” Feenstra said.

He said they’ve seen a large increase in people ordering online. The store is also offering pickup and delivery for repairs within the Halifax area so people don’t have to venture out.

He said many customers are buying entry-level bikes, while others are looking at getting their existing bikes road ready.

“People have been dragging their bikes out of their basement and their garage and saying ‘Hey, can you get this going again?'” Feenstra said.

Staff are divided into three teams. Two of the teams work alternating days, so if one group gets sick, the others are protected. Feenstra and the managers make up the third team, who come in every night to clean the store.

“They’ve stepped up massively,” he said of his staff.

Even though they’re only working three days a week right now, he’s paying them their full-time salaries.

“That way they’re still paying their bills and … we can do our little thing for the economy … to keep it rolling a little bit,” Feenstra said.

He said he’s seeing a difference in families wanting to participate in an activity together, and he hopes that this can be a silver lining in a terrible situation.

“This may be something that they can hold on to and have some hope that they can get through this and get some exercise,” he said.


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