Co-op NewsCOVID-19 Resources

Shifting gears to climb the steepest hill of the decade

How members of The Bike Cooperative are adjusting to the Coronavirus

As retailers across the country contend with stay-at-home orders, mandatory shutdowns, and the realities of ‘essential’ vs. ‘nonessential’ status: members of the bike cooperative prove that never before has “Go further together” been more true. 

From evolving beyond brick and mortar to supporting the people that power your business, get a glimpse of the challenges some of our 300+ member locations are overcoming and the advice they’re sharing with our network.

Challenge #1: Operating as an essential (or nonessential) brick and mortar retailer

For many, a bicycle is essential for work and transportation. For others, it’s  essential to health and wellness. But the truth is that the ‘essential’ or ‘nonessential’ designation varies for IBDs across the country.  

Just a few years ago it seemed that direct to consumer bikes were a primary threat to IBDs. Today,  brick and mortar retailers are ripping a page out of their playbook in their own local way. Will this lead to new service offerings in the future for businesses like yours? Time will tell. But for now, consider the response from two of our fantastic members: one deemed “essential”, another not.

Old Town Bicycle – “Essential”

Gig Harbor, WA

Owner: Dmitri Keating
Location: Gig Harbor, WA
Contact Information: 
# of Locations: 3
# of Employees: 25
# of Furloughed/Laid Off Employees: 0
Is your business deemed essential? Yes
Are you open? Yes
Loans Applied For: Will apply for 7A PPP Loan

Dmitri’s experience

Dmitri’s stores are open but on a limited basis.  They are deemed an essential business and have seen very steady traffic throughout the past weeks.  The biggest challenge they have now is staying stocked up on cleaning products – paper towels and disinfectant.  All stores only allow you to purchase a limited amount so he is constantly scrambling to get more.

By building a network of over 300+ independent member stores, The Bike Cooperative has been able to pre-negotiate a wide range of discounts on products and services, including Facility Services, Safety, and PPE. We can’t guarantee that they will be able to fulfill all needs at this time, but it is a resource member stores can turn to, with direct support from co-op business consultants who can help get the ball rolling. 

Cost cutting is one membership benefit IBDs may find helpful right now

Reach out via phone, email or live-chat to learn how we can help

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Village Bike & Fitness – “Nonessential” 

Jenison, MI

Retailer: Village Bike & Fitness
Owner: Cory Bultman
Location: Jenison, MI
# of Locations: 4
# of Employees: n/a
# of Furloughed/Laid Off Employees: 40 
Is your business deemed essential? No
Are you open? No
Loans Applied For: EIDL

Cory’s experience

All four locations of Village Bike & Fitness are closed to customers, however they are still fulfilling online orders with delivery. With payment due dates coming at the worst time for this pandemic (around April and May) these orders can help. Cory’s store had to furlough employees but fully intends to hire them all back when he can open again. With the new stimulus package, they should be covered with unemployment and benefits.

Challenge #2: Supporting the people that mean most to your business

Whether they’re ‘open’ or operating in a limited capacity – bicycle shops are powered by the very same resource as bicycles themselves: people. With this in mind, many of the members we spoke to echoed a similar sentiment, and are staying focused on protecting and supporting their most valuable resources: their staff and their loyal customers. 

For Dmitri Keating of Old Town Bicycle in Gig Harbor, WA – this begins with a healthy stock of cleaning supplies for his ‘essential’ store. This has been a challenge. But by closing on Wednesday for deep cleaning and staff training – Keating believes Old Town has been able to continue providing Washingtonians with one of the best resources to ‘stay healthy, both mentally and physically.’

Dmitri’s Tactics:
  • Closed on Wednesdays for deep cleaning and staff training

  • Limited number of customers in the store at a time

  • No personal fittings

  • Online ordering available

  • Old Town Bicyle plans to apply for the various loans available

Dmitri’s Tips:
  • Try and get a good stock of cleaning products

  • Close the store when necessary

  • Clearly state on your website what your protocol is

Challenge #3: Staying solvent in uncertain times

For many IBDs, the most important action item this week was to apply for emergency loans. While members like Cory at Village Bike & Fitness are doing what they can online, focusing on loan applications has been a top priority when it comes to protecting the future of his business and his staff. After working with his lawyer and accountant to find the solutions that best fit his business, Cory had these tactics and tips to share:

Cory's Tactics:
  • The 7A-PPP loan:

After seeking accounting and legal advice, Cory will apply for the 7A-PPP loan. He will get 250% of average monthly payroll and can spend over the course of 8 weeks on payroll, rent, utilities, mortgage interest.  When he reopens and returns staffing back to what it was, his entire loan will be forgiven. 

  • Timing the loan:

Owners have the option to time the spend of the loan (you have 8 weeks from the initiation of the loan) until June 30th for now, which is what Cory is going to do. He is starting to process the loan now, just in case it runs out.

  • Additional applications:

Cory’s store is also going to apply for an EIDL loan, but it cannot be used in the same categories as the PPP loan.

  • Rent relief:

Cory also spoke with his landlords to defer rent, and spoke with his vendors to work with them on payments.

Cory's Tips:
  • Unemployment for sole proprietors:

Under the CARES legislation, owners like Corey can also apply for unemployment and he fully intends to do so. Normally, independent owners cannot apply and receive benefits.

  • Watching expenses like a hawk:

Cory’s lawyers informed him that retailers will need to be extremely thorough when tracking their expenditures  in order to qualify for 100% loan forgiveness. Cory has opened a separate bank account to track everything better.

  • Calculating payroll for seasonal businesses:

For the payroll calculation for a seasonal business you can select a 12 week period starting March 1st, 2019 instead of having to take the annual monthly payroll average.

The Bike Cooperative is here to help

These are unique challenges. But The Bike Cooperative exists to bring independent retailers together to solve challenges (even if it’s the challenges we never anticipated). To some, being a member of a cooperative means being part of a community to share, train, and learn from. To others, it’s about full access to the scale that makes business easier. On every level, we exist to support independent retailers. So, let us know if we can help.

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