With most of our local outdoor recreation-related businesses closed at least through the first week of April and potentially longer, you’ll have to make do with the gear you have or buy what you need online (ideally from a local business). When they do re-open, we will need to support the local outdoor recreation shops we love more than ever.  

Bike shops are the one exception, having been deemed essential businesses because of the bicycle maintenance services they provide. You can still get your bike fixed or buy a new or used bike from many of the region’s bike shops, either by visiting a store or shopping online.  

According to Mark Neupert, co-owner of Spokane’s Wheel Sport Bicycles, the shop has seen an increase in people using bicycles to maintain their physical and mental health during the last couple weeks of March. “We were honored that the Governor recognized the critical role cycling plays in transportation and wellness,” Neupert says, noting that the opportunity to continue to serve the public also carries a significant burden. “We are at higher risk of exposing ourselves and our customers to COVID-19. It has required us to be hyper vigilant about cleaning surfaces and objects people touch, and it can make for some unusual customer experiences,” he says. “Historically, we have not asked a customer to wait until we finished cleaning or washing our hands before we could help them or to maintain an appropriate distance between them and a service associate, but those are the conversations we are having today.” Wheel Sport stores on Spokane’s South Hill and on the Northside and in Spokane Valley were open as of late March, however the Recyclery on Division had closed. 

Grafton Pannell who owns and operates the Spokane region’s mobile bike shop Velofix Spokane has also seen a spike in business, noting that he had his busiest March ever. Pannell’s business is particularly suited to the times and addressing people’s concerns about putting themselves or others at risk for spreading the virus. “Customers don’t seem overly nervous but most of them now are starting to respect social distance, which I’m thankful for,” notes Pannell, who says his priority is to keep himself, his family, and his customers safe. “I believe in the power of bicycles and I want to see people getting out but doing it safely.” Velofix Spokane stands out, he says, because Pannell can take care of you and your bike without every coming into contact after he shows up in front of your home to pick up your bike and roll it out to his van to be worked on. “Nobody is allowed in the van, I take care to keep customers at least 10 feet away while I work, and I thoroughly clean each bike.” 

In these crazy times, please do what you can to support local businesses, whether you shop local online or wait to make a purchase until brick and mortar shops re-open. Help keep dollars and jobs in our communities! In these crazy times, please do what you can to support local businesses, whether you shop local online or wait to make a purchase until brick and mortar shops re-open. Help keep dollars and jobs in our communities! In these crazy times, please do what you can to support local businesses, whether you shop local online or wait to make a purchase until brick and mortar shops re-open. Help keep dollars and jobs in our communities!