Bicycling Boom During Pandemic

Johnny Velo, owner of Johnny Velo Bikes Shop

I was delighted to read an email (text below) from Johnny Velo, pictured above in the Clintonville bike shop that bears his name. From the Simply Living perspective, we love our local businesses, and when so many of our favorite local businesses are struggling to stay open, imagine our excitement to learn that his bike business is booming! Yes, John reports that his sales have tripled since the onset of the pandemic. This gives me hope that whatever the New Normal turns out to be, many more folks will have become hooked on this sustainable alternative to getting around town burning combustible fossil fuels.

Even better, John doesn’t just inform you about the cool services his shop offers, he uses his good fortune during these hard economic times to give back to the community. I will let him give the details but it involves a Bike Clintonville Tee to raise money for service workers in need of food, housing, and medical services. Oh, the tee shirts promote other Clintonville businesses. That’s the spirit of Main Street businesses.

Simply Living, like John Velo, believes in supporting local bike shops in every neighborhood as a way to support our local economy and the community. In that spirit, we compiled a list of central Ohio bike shops at the end of this post. And we even added some local bike support organizations that offer bike tours, education, and advocacy. We can celebrate local while exploring the diversity of sustainable transit, from ebikes to used bikes, recumbents to off road and even free bikes to ensure everyone can bike around Columbus.

The year of the bike boom sure was crazy! But it’s not over yet. Like you, we went into spring faced with COVID. For us that meant business tripled as gyms closed and interest in cycling boomed–and we handled it with one-third the staff. The phone rang so much I started hearing it in my sleep, and staying on top of the voicemail, email, and Facebook messages became a full-time job.

If your message slipped through the cracks or it took longer than usual for a reply, I can’t thank you enough for your patience. I tried my best to respond to everyone in a timely way.  After all, this is why I got into the bike business! To get more people biking.  Things have leveled off a bit, but just when we got into our groove, Raffa the Shop Dog had crippling back issues and an eye infection. He’s been convalescing at home after back surgery and weeks of antibiotics, and he can’t wait to get back to his important work at the shop: greeting customers and barking at people on the sidewalk. I even brought his dog bed home from the shop recently and he has been hanging out in it a lot, so hopefully next week he’ll be back in. Stop in next week to give him a rub behind the ears, but Raffa wants you to sanitize your hands before petting him.

This “bike boom” is bittersweet, especially over the last two months. The combination of unprecedented demand and COVID-related supply chain interruptions has made it challenging to get you the bike of your dreams.  Everyone in the industry is scrambling to keep up but we’re seeing partial orders, weeks-long shipping delays, and sometimes orders for bikes and parts are going unfulfilled altogether.  But know I’m talking daily with our vendors and we’re working hard to get you what you need.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel!  2021 bikes are on the way over the next few months.  They’re trickling in, one here, two there and not all manufacturers are not caught up.  In fact, no one in this industry is caught up.  But we are getting bikes in.  This is probably a good point to mention for you to join our Bike Finder Tool if you haven’t already.  Just click this LINK, answer a few questions, and know what is coming in before anyone else does. You can pre-order them and be guaranteed to get the bike you’re looking for. 

What’s next?
We are doing everything we can to meet your biking needs and support all you new riders out there! We’re planning to launch virtual bike maintenance and flat tire clinics. I’m looking into starting a STEM workshop for kids and parents to help you get your kids out of the house this fall. And for all you experienced riders that have accumulated a lot of extra bikes, parts, clothing, etc. we’re bringing the Bike Truck to our shop in October. This is a truck that comes to town and buys up all your old bikes and gear and you get Johnny Velo Bikes gift cards to buy new bikes and gear! 

Stay tuned for details, and as always, if you have a questions,give us a call or stop in and we will be happy to help.

Supporting the community
We’ve been lucky enough to remain open as an essential business throughout the pandemic, but a lot of Clintonville businesses and service workers have not been so lucky, and they and their employees are struggling to recover. We’ve turned our yearly shop tee into a fundraiser.  Lucky Dog Tee Shirts donated the labor and we’re covering the cost of the shirts to raise money for Service Relief an organization in Columbus that helps service workers in need of food, housing and medical care.  The Bike Clintonville tee highlights local businesses, just like our Bike Clintonville map that you’ll find in many shops and restaurants around the neighborhood. We’ve almost raised $2,500 and just have a few shirts left.
 A favor if you have time
Speaking of local businesses, if you want to help out right now, give a five-star review, tip your server 30% or more, or buy a gift card. Believe it or not these small efforts make a big difference.  Reviews drive customers to a business, and a five-star review can be a bright spot to a struggling and exhausted business owner.

So thanks for your support and look forward to more ways to learn more about cycling soon.

Bike Finder Button!
Raffi the shop dog recuperating.

Quick Directory of Bike Shops & More in and around Columbus

Johnny Velo Bikes
4231 N High St
Columbus, OH 43214

Third Hand Bike Co-op
979 E 5th Ave
Columbus, OH 43201

Franklinton Cycling Works
897 W Broad St
Columbus, OH 43222

Orbit City Bikes
4544 Indianola Ave
Columbus OH 43214

Once Ridden Bikes
2592 Indianola Ave
Columbus, OH 43202

Baer Wheels
3510 N. High St
Columbus 43214

Dandy Bikes on High
2489 N High St
Columbus, OH 43202

Westerville Bike Shop
29 W Main St
Westerville, OH 43081

Bicycle One
82 Mill Street
Gahanna, OH 43230

Paradise Garage
921 N High Street
Columbus, OH 43201

roll: Bexley
2468 E Main St
Bexley, OH 43209

Bike Source
4840 Sawmill Rd.
Columbus, OH 43235

YAY Bikes!

Columbus Outdoor Pursuits

Cogo Bike Share Columbus

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