With competition from online retailers that are able to cut costs significantly, plenty of local bike shops have been struggling to survive. Now that our economy has been forced to take a step back due to social distancing and state-at-home orders, your favorite shop that’s managed to stay open all these years is more than likely facing tough times.
Whether you realize it or not, your local bike shop does a lot more than sell bikes. In many ways, your local shop is the heartbeat of cycling in the community. It is an advocate, organizing club rides or local cycling events, building camaraderie and helping get others involved with living a healthy lifestyle. Bike shops also offer many important services you can’t get at an online retailer, like bike fits, bike maintenance, workshops, maintenance classes, and try-before-you-buy programs to make sure you’re happy with your purchase.
To keep these cycling hubs open and servicing our communities, it’s critical cyclists do everything possible to ensure shops are able to keep their doors open. The good news is you can help — even if you’re going through your own financial hardships and don’t have extra money to spend on new bike gear. From spreading the word via social media to getting a non-cyclist interested in the sport, here are nine ways you can help support your local bike shop today.
Whether you’ve got money to spend at the moment or not, there are things you can do today to help your local bike shop survive our current economic crisis. Below are a few ideas to get you started.
SEE WHAT SERVICES ARE STILL AVAILABLE
Depending on where you live, some bike shops may be considered essential services and offer curbside pickups or in-store shopping with some restrictions. Others may also allow you to drop off your bike for tuning services and repairs. Instead of just assuming your favorite local bike shop is closed, inquire and see exactly what services it’s still offering. If you’ve got the money, it could be the perfect time for a tune-up or that deluxe bike rejuvenation package to get your bike looking and working like new again.
BUY GEAR FOR COMMUTING
Cycling to work can help prevent crowds on public transportation, decrease pollution and traffic on the streets, and help keep your immune system strong. While buying more cycling gear for a daily commute might seem like an extra expense, it actually helps you save money by cutting down on gas costs, car repairs and trips to your doctor. Make a list of gear you might need to start commuting by bike more regularly and purchase what you can from your local bike shop. Here are a few ideas:
- Bike racks for panniers or a dedicated cycling backpack
- A good set of lights for morning and evening commutes
- Rain jacket and pants for winter cycling
- A dedicated commuter bike if you don’t already have one
TURN A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER ONTO CYCLING
One great way to support your local bike shop is to find them a new customer. If you have a friend or family member looking for a way to spend more time outdoors and start exercising in order to stay healthy while social distancing, talk them through the basics of what they’ll need to get started cycling. Let them know where your favorite bike shop is, and if you have a particular salesperson or mechanic who has helped you out over the years, send a new customer their way.
CHECK OUT THEIR USED BIKE SELECTION
Whether it’s your friend or family member looking for a used bike to get started or you need a second bike to commute more, Craigslist and eBay aren’t the only places you can find great used bikes. Most local bike shops have a selection of used bikes that are only a few years old and have plenty of mileage left in them. These bikes will be much cheaper than newer models, and because they’re owned by the shop, you can ensure most of them will be in good working order.
PURCHASE FREQUENTLY USED PRODUCTS
If you ride a lot, chances are you buy things like inner tubes, chain oil, degreaser and handlebar tape fairly often. Instead of waiting to buy these products when you run out, why not stock up while your community bike shop may be having a difficult time staying open? While these purchases might not seem like a big deal, if everyone chips in, a little it goes a long way.
BUY A GIFT CERTIFICATE
Almost all cyclists know someone else who loves to ride. Whether it’s a spouse, a sibling or a dedicated training partner, buy a gift certificate and save it for a special occasion. Birthdays and holidays are always just around the corner, and purchasing these gifts now could help your bike shop survive until the economy starts to come back.
SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Singing the praises of your favorite local bike shop on Twitter or Instagram is free, easy and can help it out more than you realize. If you’ve had a positive experience or just want to share a few pictures of the shop with your friends online, give the shop a shout out when you can. When it has a big sale, promote that, too. Building awareness for a well-run business that promotes a healthy lifestyle for the community is one big way you can help it stay afloat and increase its clientele.
SHOP LESS AT BIG ONLINE RETAILERS
Yes, you might be able to find some stuff cheaper on Amazon. But if your bike shop goes out of business, there will be no place left to get tune-ups, bike fits and to seek expert advice when selecting products that best fit your intended use. In the end, spending a few dollars more and making your purchases locally is worth it.
ASK HOW YOU CAN HELP
Start by asking if there are any opportunities to volunteer or if the shop has other ideas for ways you might be able to help boost its business. More often than not it will be appreciative of your offering time to help, and this generosity helps build a better cycling community down the road.