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'Bikes are the new toilet paper': Shops see surge in sales amid coronavirus crisis

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted businesses across the country in different ways and one way is an increase in bicycle sales.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — While many businesses have struggled during this pandemic, bicycle shops are seeing sales unlike ever before.

"The last two weeks has just been absolutely insane," David Larson said.

On a good day, Larson would sell maybe three bikes before the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Last Saturday, we had nine to 10 bikes leave out of the store," he said

Now his shop, Angry Dave's Bicycle's in North Little Rock, can barely keep them in stock. Most of the bikes in his shop occupying space are repairs, which he said is also two weeks behind.

"Our best month was at Christmas two years ago-- we've blown that out of the water," Larson said. "We have surpassed every sales record we've had in the seven years I've been open."

His sales are up 25%, a far cry from two months ago when the pandemic started and he was worried he would have to lay off his full-time employees.

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Trek Bicycle in Little Rock is also seeing an increase in customers.

"I could hire two more full time guys and a bigger store, and I wouldn't be able to keep up right now," Larson said.

With people being cooped up inside and working from home with the nicer weather, Larson called it a perfect storm.

"It's awesome to see people walking in that haven't been on a bike in 20 years, 40 years," he said.

But trying to find a bike that works for you may be harder to find than toilet paper.

"Basically, if we don't have it here, it's not available," Larson said.

Bicycle shop owners like Larson are waiting for the supply chain to catch up because many manufacturers were also on lock down and could not ship product.

"All the brands I carry, I've got 11 to 12 different brands and they're all out of bikes. We're waiting on containers to show up for things that had been assembled and had been shipped but weren't able to come out," Larson said.

Larson is ordering even more bikes since he expects the demand to continue through summer.

"If there is any plus to this, it is the fact that we've kind of slowed down and back outside again," he said.

Larson said it will take manufacturers a few weeks to catch up. He expects to have more bikes in stock next month.

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