Faced with a shortage in the availability of getting a steady stream of new bikes to sell, Human Power Planet Earth outdoors store in Saranac Lake has turned to a dependable part of their business. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the shop has thrived on repairing and refurbishing used bikes. Owner John Dimon says he can’t bear to see a bike that could be repaired end up in the trash.
“Normally you’d call me a hoarder but now people think I’m smart,” said Dimon.
Even that work started to slow down at a point this summer. Up until July, employees at Human Powered Planet Earth had repaired easier bikes that they could make look brand new. Now they were left with bikes that took hours to repair. The shop had plenty of used bikes but they took longer to recondition. Dimon went from repairing four bikes in the morning to repairing one.
“The important thing is we came up with bikes that were affordable and the right bike for a person,” said Dimon.
The shop is small. Dimon only has two or three other employees working apart from himself. The shop doesn’t carry a deep inventory of parts for damaged bikes. Normally they can order bike parts and have a bike fixed within a week but by mid-July bike parts became unavailable.
“You couldn’t get inter tubes. You couldn’t even fix a flat,” he said.
Dimon found that on paper or to an outsider it looked like business was great. They had more business than they could handle.
“It’s a seasonal business and it’s a small town and one never wants to keep a customer waiting in any business,” said Dimon. But internally, the production flow of bikes is still trying to catch up. Dimon expects to see orders of new bikes coming in this spring but he predicts that they may sell out very quickly. The upside to all this is that people are excited about biking.
“We’re very fortunate that so many people wanted to get into biking, probably two to three times the normal amount, and I think that will affect cycling in America for the next five or 10 years,” said Dimon.
— Sierra McGivney