SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Bike shops are not only deemed essential businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, but many people are treating them as such.
Hazard's Cyclesport, located in the Santa Barbara Funk Zone, first opened in 1914. It survived the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 and it's still here. Now it's helping others pedal through this current pandemic.
Hazard's was already a popular spot for cyclists in a bike-friendly town. But business is even better now as more people take their bikes in to be fixed, or invest in new bikes. New riders are also taking up the activity.
“It’s the lemonade out of lemons: the bike business is busy right now,” said Bruce Davis, who has owned Hazard’s for 28 years. “It’s kind of the only activity in town. You can’t go to the gym.”
Cycling has become a common way for people to exercise and decompress during the 'Stay-at-Home' order.
“I almost feel a little guilty sometimes because we are doing so well, business-wise,” Davis said. “But we’re also helping people… these people are digging their bikes out of the garage, bringing them to the bike shops, saying ‘Hey, can you fix this up? Because we need a little mental break here to get out and exercise.’”
There are new safety measures being taken as well. Hazard's only allows one customer in the shop at a time, and the customer must be masked. All employees wear masks and gloves and sanitize bikes before and after working on them.
The pandemic has not slowed business, however. New repairs are two weeks out, even with a full staff. New bike sales have also increased.
The shop currently partners with the Santa Barbara Police Department to repair officers' bicycles.
That's just one example of how Hazard's work on bikes does not only benefit those who are restless at home.
“The bike industry and the bike world is not just a bunch of elite hobbyists who want to ride bikes to look cool on the weekends,” Davis said. “A lot of our customers use bikes for basic transportation and getting to and from work and exercise.
“If we’re able to contribute a little bit to the health and wellbeing of the city and the citizens… I’m all for it.”