If it has air in the tires, Charles Bennett Moore — owner of the Alexandria location for Big Wheel Bikes — has been selling it.
While businesses across Alexandria have been struggling to pull out of the pandemic, the last few months have been an unusual windfall for Old Town waterfront business Big Wheel Bikes (2 Prince Street).
“It was gangbusters in May and June,” Moore said. “We had quadruple our usual demand. The supply has dwindled to pretty much nothing. If you walk in, we have maybe a half a dozen bikes.”
It hasn’t just been bike sales, either. Moore said service requests have been increasing quicker than the shop can keep up.
“Service has increased tenfold,” Moore said. “We are just going crazy with service still. People are constantly dropping off bikes. That’s been sustaining us. I sold anything that had air in the tires.”
Outdoor bicycling, especially alone, has been cited as one of the healthier exercise activities — especially compared to the risks of an indoor gym.
The business stayed open through the pandemic and Moore said May was particularly busy. Moore said the store has sold half its collection of vintage bikes, usually just items of interest for collectors. Now there’s a waiting list for new bikes coming in.
“People don’t want to be cooped up indoors,” Moore said. “The season hit at the same time as COVID. People feel they can keep six-feet of distance on the bicycle. And with [many] gyms closed… it’s a perfect storm for the bike business”
It’s particularly a boon to the Alexandria Big Wheel Bikes location, which sits on a waterfront spot virtually surrounded by new development and density.
“With all this development and things changing, [this] probably helps to get a lease extension,” Moore said. “A lot of businesses aren’t staying open. So it’s been a good thing for us.”
Staff photo by Vernon Miles