Ben Grenier trues, or aligns, a bicycle wheel at Rainbow Bicycle in Lewiston on Wednesday. Grenier said repairs are taking two weeks instead of the usual one because the shop is so busy. “We have 60 bikes in line for tuneups,” he said. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — Local bike shops in Central and Western Maine have seen a surge in sales and tuneup appointments as a result of Maine’s stay-at-home order nearly two months ago.

However, some shop owners said they can’t find a steady supply of affordable bikes to keep up with the demand.

John Grenier, owner of Rainbow Bicycle in Lewiston, said since the order was issued his shop has been “one and a half times busier than the busiest we’ve ever been.”

“When this first started, we were scared and were planning for the worst,” Grenier said. “Now, we’re into May and we’ve busier than we’ve been in awhile.”

He chalked the surge in sales up to a number of issues: more children being home and looking for something to do with schools being closed, and parents having more money from stimulus checks and not paying for children’s after-school activities.

“I think a big part of the reason we’re seeing so many people buying new or used bikes is because parents are saving money by their children not going to different sports or activities, whether it’s cheerleading, gymnastics, or hockey,” Grenier said. “They have kids with boundless energy who can’t do their usual activities, and biking is an easy family activity to do.”

Angela Harvey arranges new bicycles at Green Machine Bike Shop in Norway on Wednesday. Her husband, John, said bicycles are selling so well that he is worried about not having any this summer if the supply chain doesn’t increase soon. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

John and Angela Harvey, who own and operate Green Mountain Bike Shop in Norway, have seen a similar surge in customers, but according to John Harvey, one problem that all bike shops are likely to run into over the next few months is the supply of bikes not keeping up with demand.

“I think one of the effects of the virus that we’re seeing industrywide is that entry-level bikes and kids bikes are evaporating,” Harvey said. “We just can’t get our hands on those bikes. Right now, if you come in looking for a $500 bike or a quality kids bike, they don’t exist. We have some $750 bikes, but we’re down to a few.”

Harvey said he and his wife are banking on an above-average number of people coming in for bike repairs or tuneups to carry the business through the summer.

“We’re definitely seeing a different kind of customer right now: people who are looking for bikes because there’s nothing else to do, and biking is one of the few things we’ve been told we can do,” Harvey said. “People are loving it right now. That’s the one bright spot in this whole ugly thing. People forget how fun bikes are until you put your butt on one.”

Dominic Giampaolo, co-owner of Busytown Bikes in Lewiston, said business has been “absolutely gangbusters” in terms of sales, and like Grenier, he has found himself “two weeks out on repairs.”

However, like Rainbow Bicycles and Green Machine, Giampaolo said bikes have been “extremely hard to come by.”

“You just can’t get bikes right now,” Giampaolo said. “We have customers from the coast coming up here looking for bikes because they’re sold out there.”

He said the supply chain became disrupted after the coronavirus began spreading, which “shut down stuff for months.”

“In China, things are starting to ramp again, but there’s such a long delay from when something is manufactured in China to when it’s sellable here,” Giampaolo continued. “That means certain models of bikes just won’t be available right now. People are going to have to get creative on where they get their bikes from.”

Grenier said he has sold through his stock of used bikes in just three weeks.

“Usually, I have a whole year’s worth of used bikes, and after the stay-at-home order, they were gone in three weeks,” Grenier said. “In a few more weeks, I’m not sure if I’ll have any bikes under $1,000 available. If the demand keeps up like this into June or July, I’m not sure the supply can keep up.”

He added his employees are “working on days off, working extra hours, all so we can try and stay afloat and keep the customers happy.”

“My hope is that after things calm down a little bit, people will keep biking and coming back into the store,” Grenier said.

In Andover, Jackie Gammon, who has owned and operated Chase Cyclery since 2000, said she has seen an increase in the number of people looking for tuneups or bike repairs, but has no plans now to open up her shop on North Main Street until social distancing restrictions relax.

“Whenever I go into Walmart or a grocery store, it horrifies me to see how many people don’t have masks on,” Gammon said. “I probably won’t officially open until things calm down.”


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