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Bike shop business booms despite coronavirus

'As soon as they closed the schools, we got busy,' a bike shop owner said

NEW ORLEANS — While most people in the New Orleans area are dealing with dramatic restrictions to everyday life while dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, a few opportunities are expanding.

Some exercise activities are booming, especially biking and other open-air escapes from the ongoing crisis.

Brian Grenrood got his bicycle repaired and bought his family two new ones as they seek out alternative ways to spend time to fill in the gaps left by closed schools, gyms and sports leagues.

“With everything that’s happening, we can go with my son and his two sisters on bike rides around the neighborhood,” Grenrood said. “It gives the kids something to door that’s outdoors and healthy.

Jake Kelston, of Uptown, rushed out to make the bike purchase he’d been contemplating for a while just in case shopping is further curtailed.

“With this pandemic happening, I wanted to make sure I had the bike I wanted now,” Kelston said as he prepared to ride off on his new hybrid. “It’s good exercise, it allows for social distancing, it’s good for the environment, it’s good for transportation.”

Even with gyms, fitness centers and even yoga studios closed indefinitely, activities such as biking, golfing, tennis, jogging and walking remain available at most places. Popular parks like Audubon and City Park have been busier than ever for this time of year.

And business at local bike shops is booming.

“As soon as they closed the schools, we got busy,” said Marc Ducote, owner of Bicycle World on Jefferson Highway.

“We’ve been busy with repairs, selling a lot of new bikes, especially with the kids being stuck at home.”

If even more shopping is restricted, Ducote believes that bike shops should be declared as “essential services” as they have been in other cities.

“I think bike shops should be essential because people need them for transportation,” Ducote said. “With people staying away from Uber and the risks of public transportation, people are going to need ways to get around.”

Billy Ruddy, owner of GNO Cyclery, said he’s been selling whole sets of new bikes to a number of families since last week.

“We’re selling a lot of new bikes to complete families, three to five bikes at one time,” Ruddy said.

Not only does biking and other forms of outdoor activity allow families to get exercise, it helps provide valuable peace of mind during these stressful times, Ruddy said.

“Being able to go outside and spend quality time with the family might take a little bit of the pressure off, and give us all some ease over the next few weeks.”

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