BUSINESS FEATURE Local bike shops rideout COVID19 Bikealot and Velorangutan see inux of new cyclists T hroughout the coronavirus pandemic, local bike shops have stayed busy. According to Wes Hayslip, owner at mountain bike and motorcycle shop Velorangutan o Ben White Boulevard, a surge of clients has sought to repair neglected bikes over the past few months, increas- ing calls to the shop’s small repair service. “When the shutdown happened, apparently everybody pulled their bikes out of the garage and started biking again,” Hayslip said. Similarly, Brad Wimberly, owner at Southwest Austin’s Bikealot, said he has seen many Austinites turn to cycling after social distancing measures have kept them cooped up and away frommany recreational activities. “We’ve seen an increase in demand overall, and an increase in phone calls from people looking to restore old bikes,” Wimberly said. “So many people are too busy with their jobs to be able to get out and enjoy them under ordinary circumstances. A lot of people found themselves with time and looking for healthy things to do to get out of the house.” In fact, demand for bikes during the pandemic resulted in a national bicycle shortage, with manu- facturers running out of popular aordable models, according to Hayslip. “It’s almost like bikes became the new toilet paper,” he said. However, increased interest in bikes and bike services have not kept Velorangutan or Bikealot from feeling nancial strain during the pandemic. Both Hayslip and Wimberly chose to keep the inside of their businesses closed to the public. In lieu of having customers visit Bikealot’s showroom, Wimberly and his ancée, Jeni Lyon, revamped the shop’s website so customers could view inventory and submit orders online while increasing business via phone. However, Wimberly
BY OLIVIA ALDRIDGE
Bikealot has continued to do business curbside with its showroom closed. (Courtesy Jeni Lyon)
Velorangutan oers mountain bikes and motorcycles at its shop. (Courtesy Velorangutan)
3924 Woodbury Drive, Ste. A, Austin 512-416-7465 www.velorangutan.com Hours: Mon.-Fri. 6-10 p.m., Sat. 1:30-6 p.m., closed Sun.
5330 Menchaca Road, Austin 512-916-8574 www.bikealotaustin.com Hours: Tue.-Fri. noon-6 p.m., Sat. noon-5 p.m., closed Sun.-Mon.
biking side have picked up during the pandemic as residents have shown new enthusiasm for cycling, Hayslip said. Wimberly said he wants to see the heightened appreciation for the activity maintained as COVID- 19 eventually tapers o. “Hopefully this new joy of riding will continue to keep people aware of the possibility of getting people around town on bicycles,” he said. “IT’S ALMOST LIKE BIKES BECAME THE NEWTOILET PAPER." WES HAYSLIP, VELORANGUTAN OWNER
said closing the showroom took its toll. “The extra precautions we are taking are keeping us busier doing less,” he said. “Even though our decision to close the showroom has made sales and service more dicult, we felt it was a necessary step toward doing everything possible to help slow the spread of COVID-19.” At Velorangutan similar adjustments have been made, including outdoor and curbside service. “I decided my employees’ health was worth a lot more than making a few dollars,” Hayslip said. Velorangutan’s motorcycle services and sales have declined; however, sales on the mountain
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