May is National Bike Month. Here’s my wishlist for myself and essential workers across the country.
We’ve celebrated National Bike Month in the past by launching spring clinics and group rides, or by doing something fun in the shop. This year is obviously different, and I hope I’m not being too forward, but I’m asking for a few gifts from you, new and loyal customers. Hear me out.
As an essential business, we’ve been here all along, serving you--our long-time customers and new faces who have come through the shop for bikes and service. (Welcome, new friends, to the Johnny Velo Bikes family and e-newsletter. We’re happy to have you along for the ride.)
Bikes are indeed the new toilet paper, and not because you put your derriere on them. I’m painfully aware that we’re one of the lucky ones. I didn’t open a bike shop for its high likelihood of survival during a pandemic, but here we are, open and thriving as some projections show that as few as 30% of small businesses will make it to the other side of this.
I’m no stranger to survivor’s guilt. I’m a two-time cancer survivor who has watched loved ones and acquaintances die from it… and I always wonder, why me? And now, as I watch neighborhood restaurants, retailers, and service providers struggle, I ask myself again, why me? There’s no answer except gratitude for the time I’ve been given, and a deep sense of responsibility to do something valuable with it.
The record number of children’s bikes we’ve sold to families and bikes we’ve serviced for commuters who still need them to get to work tells me I am doing something valuable. I’m thrilled by the sheer number of you who’ve come through our doors saying you haven’t ridden a bike since childhood, but are feeling inspired to start now. Truth be told, I am actually thankful for some rainy days because it has slowed down the amount of calls, emails, and sales so we can actually breathe and try to get caught up a little. (Have you ever heard a bike shop owner praying for rain?) I’m sorry it’s taken a global pandemic to bring you to biking, but thanks for choosing me as your entry point, friends!
My staff tells me I ramble too much. Get to the point, John. What was my point again? Oh, right. My National Bike Month wishlist. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to get you anything like I normally would, and everything I wanted to get you isn’t safe right now anyway. But rest assured when it’s safe again, I’m taking all of you on a bike ride to a local brewery, and I’m buying the first round.
Until then, I do need a few things if you have it in your heart, because there’s another side to owning and working in an essential business right now, and it’s pure exhaustion. We’re closed on Tuesdays to allow my staff to catch up with demand for new bikes and service, but we could use a secret eighth day just to sleep. And I’m certain we aren’t the only ones. I make this wishlist not just on behalf of me and my staff, but on behalf of the healthcare, grocery store, food service, and other workers who have either been working all along or who are about to start as state restrictions are slowly lifted.
Your patience and kindness.
If we haven’t answered your phone call or Facebook message yet, we aren’t ignoring you, we’re just doing our best to stay on top of them. A lot of people are calling. We understand, you don’t want to come in if you don’t have to, and we want to help you find what you need. We have one staff member answering the phone and Facebook messages from home when she can.
If you come in, you might have to wait for an available sales lead to help you. We’re a small shop and we can’t let more than a couple people in at a time, for your safety and ours. We have a comfortable bench outside in case you do have to wait. Just put your name on the whiteboard, enjoy the fresh air, and you’ll be helped. You’re a priority. We recommend putting in a carryout order with our neighbor, Northstar, or grabbing one of their delicious cookies to pass the time while you wait.
Whether you’re waiting for groceries, bikes, or a pizza, your patience and kindness goes a long way right now with the people who are working very hard to help you.
We are wearing masks for your protection and we don’t like wearing them any more than you do. Our glasses fog up, it’s harder to see what we’re doing when we’re adjusting a bike for a test ride, our ears hurt at the end of the day. But this is how we respect you. Please do the same for us. Masks are not mandated by the state, and if you don’t have one we’ll still serve you… just not indoors. We’ll meet you outside and help you get what you need. We’re not turning you away, we’re just trying to be safe. We all go back to families at the end of the day, and we have an obligation to protect them (and our other customers) by protecting ourselves.
There are guidelines posted on our door about the number of customers we can serve at once. Please help us by adhering to them. If you’re confused, just ask. There’s a sanitizing station at the door for your bike and your hands. Please use it. In turn, we are sanitizing as well, and we’re wiping down bikes between every test ride because we respect you and care about your safety.
A lot of essential workers can’t afford a sick day. If they can’t work, they can’t get paid, so let’s help them stay safe too by wearing our masks. We’re all relying on each other right now.
Your ongoing business.
We have customers who’ve been with us since we opened our doors. If you’re new, we hope you stick with us, too, even after the pandemic. Buy your accessories like helmets and lights from us instead of Amazon. I’ve carefully chosen every product in our shop because the quality is high and I believe it’s a good value. Products I’d buy for my own family and that my staff and I use on our own bikes. And I promise you, many of the bike products you buy from Amazon will cost you more in the long run because it will fall apart. This is why we strive to procure products that offer great quality and back it up with great warranties.
Our reputation means the world to me and it shows in how we serve you. You have choices when it comes to buying bikes and accessories. You may have chosen us because we were the only shop carrying the bike you wanted, but I hope you keep coming back. I think you’ll like shopping with us as much as we like helping you.
One year, two, or three, I hope you keep choosing us for bikes, accessories, and service. And we’ll keep doing our best to keep you safe and happy on the road or trail!
Thank you, loyal customers and future loyal customers. We’re proud to be here for you, and we can’t wait to ride with you soon! I really am taking us all out for drinks, so follow us on Facebook and stay tuned!