“It is taking a toll on us,” said Tennessee Mayer, who became part-owner of the business last year after managing the Liv women’s branded side for years.
While Mayer is pleased to see an increased interest in cycling, the pandemic sent customers rushing to buy new bicycles and refurbish old ones, creating unanticipated demands and strains on the entire global industry, let alone small independently owned shops.
Giant and Liv Vancouver staffers are more than happy to help the line-ups of new cyclists get geared up, while working under the public health guidelines, but the sheer intensity and high pace has been overwhelming and, after more than six months working short-staffed and full-tilt, they’re realizing things are not sustainable the way they are.
“We are so fortunate to be open and working, I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but it has been really hard to keep up,” said co-owner Andrew Dineen. “Customers may not be aware of the reality that we’re facing, but we need a break. This has all been taking a toll on the mental health of the staff.”
The “reality” Dineen referred to is the unexpected fallout of the pandemic happening in the bike industry and small business that is not making headlines. The cycling boom has created a shortage of bicycles worldwide, as well as parts and accessories, and while manufacturers are scrambling to catch up, it will take time before everything is fully re-stocked.
“We do still have bikes available and 2021 models are rolling in, but there are definitely fewer options than usual,” explained co-owner Brad Collins.
In addition to the limited supply of product, a lack of staff is putting added stress on the crew. Student employees returning to school in the fall and a general scarcity of workers available for hire, have left the business with a skeleton crew to fulfill mounting orders and complete increasing bike repairs. They are all close to burning out if something doesn’t change, according to Mayer.
As a result, Mayer, Dineen and Collins have agreed it is in the best interest of their small team’s wellbeing to close Sundays and Mondays, despite the obvious loss of revenue that will result from the closure. The partners hope their loyal customers will understand this is a temporary, but necessary, measure that will allow them to better serve their community in the long run.