Ride on through to the other side
WHEN the coronavirus took hold, Michael Vincent was signing on for JobSeeker payments. Fast forward to now and the Bike Shop Yamba owner is serving customers from wheelie bins and selling so many bikes he can’t deal with demand.
“We were expecting the worst,” Mr Vincent said.
“I was panicking because (I was) of course looking at how I was going to pay my bills.”
“I had a staff member who I let go and I was ready to hunker down, expecting to be closed.”
Mr Vincent said things changed when he started receiving phone calls from locals eager to get out on bikes as it is allowed under the increasingly strict coronavirus lockdown measures.
He then reopened, though the shop was off-limits to the public and business was being done in the back car park.
“Walking for most people might not get them very far, running is horrible if you have not run before and bikes are a much easier in.”
“I think that is why people said well if there is no other exercise – cycling is going to be it. Then more and more people started coming in and we got very busy, we have run out of bikes just about.”
In what is becoming a common refrain for those businesses finding new ways to generate revenue during the pandemic, Mr Vincent had been able to re-hire the employee who was let go.
Add to that his new door to door mobile bike repair service and Mr Vincent’s decision to “look for other ways to think about our business” was paying off.
“It has been so successful I think it is going to be part of our business on an ongoing basis,” he said. “It is just easier, trying to wrangle a family and bicycles into a vehicle it is awkward … even trying to get the family into the car to go shopping is awkward.”
The timing was lucky for someone who had spent the last 10 months with a bicycle as his only form of transport – Mr Vincent had just bought a car at the start of March.
“I already have a mobile toolbox but I have been adding to it and my mobile workshop is quite comprehensive at this stage,” he said.
Mr Vincent was also gaining traction on social media, with his quirky but informative videos blending anything from bicycle maintenance tips and timelapse videos with magic of formal wear.
“People can come and ask us anything and we know our stuff,” he said. “And we do have some fun with it.”