Unlike other businesses that had to shut their doors for months or even forever, Saturday Cycles in Salt Lake City’s Marmalade District remained largely open after the disruptive and disastrous March 2020 Covid lockdown. During that time, the shop faced new challenges to its business model while trying to keep its customers happy.
On one hand, owner Mark Kennedy was lucky that his company was considered an “essential business”, as biking was thought to be an adequate social distancing form of transportation, exercise and recreation. But the frustration and chaos that ensued, mostly from lack of inventory, still resonates.
“Everyone wanted a bike all of a sudden,” Kennedy said. “We mostly couldn’t keep up with demand, and the whole pipeline of bike stuff went dry. So we had to deal with the risk of Covid, as well as a lot of people looking for help with stuff, but we couldn’t get them things. Bikes we had ordered a year earlier never arrived.”
Most of the bicycles and parts come from Asia, and as factories were shuttered, supply was cut. The shortage of bikes and parts still exists and might return to normal by 2023. Or it might not.
With a mission of helping people “to be able and prepared to ride your bike everywhere, and to use it every day,” the staff consists of avid cyclists, from road and mountain racers, BMXers, all-season commuters, and bicycle tourists.
While the shop, at 605 N 300 W, saw its best financial years in 2020-21, the stress of worrying about COVID transmission amongst his half-dozen employees and the public, as well as the dearth of unavailable parts, was overwhelming.
“We were already turning away business because we couldn’t keep up,” he said. “So we made a few dollars, but I wouldn’t say we thrived. It was probably the worst two years ever for me in the bike industry. We do it because we love it, and during Covid, the love part got sucked out.”
Saturday Cycles was not alone in its struggle to keep pace with demand during that unprecedented time.
England Plumbing Supply
England Plumbing Supply in Millcreek saw a spike in business as owner Chris King said people tackled their “honey-do lists” while on lockdown.
The majority of projects were bathroom and kitchen remodels and sprinkler and landscaping jobs. Plumbing companies and do-it-yourselfers make up the majority of customers at the shop, located at 1009 E 3300 S.
“I think it had to do with keeping themselves from going crazy being stuck at home,” King said. He and his three employees were so busy they didn’t have much time for making sourdough bread, streaming their favorite TV series, or watching TikTok like so many others. “It was definitely a weird time,” he said.
Getting parts became less of a problem as suppliers tapped into their reserves, but since then, plants have shut down and some are playing catch up. “We were spoiled in 2020 and 2021,” King said.
The general trend of slowdowns began after Thanksgiving last year, but he expects activity to pick up once the temperatures rise this spring and people spruce up their yards.
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