Hills’ bike shops are ‘essential’

April 8, 2020

By Stuart Benson

When Greg Christie heard the province declared bike repair shops an essential service on April 1, the same day the province made them “essential”, the owner of Greg Christie’s Ski and Cycle Works in Chelsea was left with more questions than answers. 


“What do I do?” Christie asked himself. “How do you open and take care of people and do it safely? Do we wear masks? I just don't want to spread the virus.”


The province changed the designation April 1, after pressure from Vélo Quebec and Montreal’s Mayor Valérie Plante.


Christie said he spent most of April 3, dealing with a flooded basement at the bicycle shop, so he said he hasn’t had much time to find answers to those questions, but he’ll need to find them before he reopens again. 


“The building is paid for and I'm fine, I could hunker down and ride it out,” said Christie. “My worry is my staff. Some I'll try to keep on for the essential repair side, but some I'll have to let go.” 


Christie said he has already called all of his suppliers to cancel his orders, but the hit to his business’s bottom line is inevitable. 


“I'm brick and mortar, customers like to come in and kick the tire. That's part of the process and it's all gone,” Christie said. “I sell $10,000 dollar bikes and I've already had two cancellations.”


Vicki Schouten, co-owner of Expedition Wakefield, said she is in a similar situation, if not worse since their business relies on a lot more than bike repair for revenue. 


“We sell clothes and accessories, and in the summer we are booming with rentals,” Schouten explained. “The economic impact is going to be much greater [than most bike shops], so hopefully we'll be eligible for some of those support benefits from the government.” 


Both Schouten and Christie have come up with extra safety precautions they both said they will implement in order to ensure the safety of themselves, their employees and customers, including no contact pick-up/drop-off and sanitizing the bikes before beginning work. Schouten said she is also implementing a 72-hour waiting period between sanitization and beginning repairs to ensure no lingering contamination. Schouten is offering free pick-up and delivery within a 25 km radius.


For Schouten, she said the most important thing right now is to remain positive. 


“We've seen a lot of residents coming out to support us and we'll do our best to support them,” Schouten said. “I think now, more than ever, it's important for the community and local businesses to work together.”


If you would like to book an appointment, you can email Christie at greg@gregchristies.com and use the “bicycle service” tab on Expedition Wakefield’s website expeditionswakefield.com.