‘The busiest we’ve ever been’: COVID-19 brings bike shop boom
GEORGE Gilligan has had a whirlwind start to his school-based apprenticeship at Rockhampton's Bikes on High.
The North Rockhampton High Year 11 student has learned the ins and outs of becoming a bicycle mechanic during the busiest time ever seen at the northside business.
Owner Roseleigh Martins, who also owns City Centre Cycles on the southside, said she had not seen anything like the current demand for bikes and bike repairs in her 27 years in the industry.
Cycling was one of the few recreational activities people can still do during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has meant a boom for the region's bike shops.
"This is probably the busiest we've ever been," Ms Martins said.
"The rush started three or four weeks ago. When they first started talking lockdown we had a couple of slower days which was a little worrying but from there it really picked up and it's been crazy ever since.
"It's like Christmas week repeated every week.
"We're probably averaging six bike sales a day in each shop.
"We haven't seen repairs like this before either. On school holidays we're generally busy with repairs but then it's only for a week or so, certainly nothing like this."
Ms Martins has increased staffing to meet the demand, bringing on two casuals who lost existing jobs as a result of the pandemic.
Her husband Anthony has been helping as well, George has now joined the team and a junior was working Saturdays.
Ms Martins,the mechanic, has been working extra hours to do the new bike builds and the repairs.
"I've been working nights and weekends, doing whatever I have to do to get the work done," she said.
"In a couple of weeks we might have a better idea of what's happening and I might look at turning a casual into a full-time staff member.
"My biggest concern is that I don't want to put someone on to then have to put them off.
"Unlike Christmas where we know that come Christmas Eve it's going to slow down a little bit, we don't know when or if this will slow down.
"The other thing is a lot of our suppliers are starting to run out of bikes; there's quite a few brands that don't have anything left."