Some Small Businesses Seeing Welcome Increase in Customers

Bike shops, farmers market seeing a steady flow of shoppers.

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Some industries like tourism and non-essential retail are feeling the pain of the pandemic right now.

But there are some businesses that are thriving more than they imagined, and we're not talking about grocery stores or online sites like Amazon.

When you're staying at home and working to prevent the spread, you might be itching to try something new when you go outdoors for some fresh air. That’s why bicycle shops are seeing an increase in sales.

Bike shops are considered an essential business and their product is a hot commodity right now. We’re seeing bikes fly off the shelves at Walmart.

An empty bike rack at Walmart in Frisco. (Chris Mathis)

Local business owners like Woody Smith of Richardson Bike Mart can't keep up. He said he’s selling out of bikes because families are looking for new ways to stay active.

“You can read books and watch Netflix and do all that but eventually it’ll get tiring. You do want to get out a bit,” he said. “My wife and I live near the bike trail and we like to watch bicycles is going by. It used to be every few minutes now it’s like every 30 seconds the bikes are going back-and-forth.”

Smith said he hasn't laid anyone off and his employees are all working fast to fill orders online and deliver bikes to homes. Kids' bike sales have tripled.

“It warms my heart to get kids back and off the phones, back in some basics with bicycles. Whether it be running biking,” Smith said. “It makes me smile to see that people are getting active and moving again.”

Customers are still coming to the store, too. A socially distanced line of about 20 people formed outside his shop over the weekend but the shop is open for service only. Smith said he’s only allowing a few people in at a time in order to follow CDC guidelines. To purchase a bike, customers are told to go online.

A line of socially distant customers wait to enter Richardson Bike Mart to buy a bicycle. (Woody Smith)

This increase in business is something he said he never expected.

“The bicycle business is going through a little mini boom because of this, because people have limited choices to do things,” he said. “I grew up in the 70s and it reminds me of the 70s again. Everybody is being active, neighbors are getting to know each other.”

Meanwhile, the Dallas Farmers Market is also busy, selling essential goods like fresh food and homemade sanitizer in a huge, open-air market.

“When you come out to shop you’re in an open-air environment, so you can come in and pick up items without having to worry about being in a closed space, or tight quarters, or running down an aisle with somebody else coming in the other direction,” said Dallas Farmers Market director Susan Armanovs.

The Dallas Farmers Market is still open on the weekends selling essential goods and enforcing social distancing guidelines. (Alanna Quillen)

With thousands of people living downtown, the farmers market gives them access to groceries. This is also the time of the year that the market tends to see a general increase in customers.

“The vendors are doing well. It’s growing season so a lot of crops are actually ready to be harvested and this is the time when the farmers market typically picks things up. It’s really important to keep buying those items right now, but sales are going well and people are coming out to support,” said Armanovs.

She added that it’s important to support these family farms and vendors during this difficult time.

“These are the smallest of the local businesses. And it’s important that we continue to support them. It’s our spending that helps to keep them in business, in good times and in bad.”

The farmers market is following CDC guidelines by spacing vendors out 10 to 20 feet. A limited amount of people are allowed under the pavilion to shop.

“There’s a lot of room with really wide walking areas, you can count the shoppers at any given time,” said Armanovs. “If there are too many people coming in, then we will stop and have people wait -- so you get a lot of space and fresh air while you’re shopping.”

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