Hi Ptown Bikers,
What a year this has been! The expected crowds showed up. Everyone was delirious with newfound freedom. The a couple weeks after July 4, covid-19 cases started appearing... and mostly in vaccinated people! It was scary. One of our workers tested positive and had to quarantine for 10 days. The rest of us tested multiple times to make sure we were all safe. Everyone went back to "caution mode" as our imagined freedom suddenly became less sure. Many businesses like gift shops and restaurants, that depend on walk in traffic from day trippers suffered badly.
The spring was terrifying as an employer. Another big issue for Summer 2021 was finding a work force. Although travel restrictions were lifted on J-1 students, most were not able to come because their home embassies were so backed up they couldn't get visa interview appointments. I had four J-1 students scheduled to come, yet only one eventually made it... and arrived on July 2 instead of just before Memorial Day weekend as originally planned. Luckily he worked here two years ago and didn't need training. I was calling friends to see if I could cajole someone into working here for the summer. Even though I offered housing it was still a difficult sell. One by one I was able to get a few people, a teacher from Boston, an art student from upstate NY, and 18 year old taking a gap year. We got our "bare minimum staff." Even though they were mostly a new crew, they did well. Then in the last week of August I lost 3 employees who had to go back to school. I was able to fly in a friend and former employee to work the two weeks around Labor Day. Boris worked 16 days straight and helped us avoid what could have been a terrible short staff situation during a busy holiday period.
The biking industry is still a mess and will remain that way through 2022! There is still a strong demand for bikes and there is still a shortage. My new rental bikes were scheduled to arrive in May, but finally arrived late August. I still have a backorder list stretching into 2023. I am currently advance selling new bikes off my backorder list. It's just kinda crazy!
Though things are looking up, many businesses are still struggling, and I suspect that 2022 will have a new set of challenges. I think the crowds will be back in 2022. I'm counting on it! The bike supply chain will still present its problems, but hopefully it will be improved.We should have more new bikes to sell as they are starting to dribble in now. We currently have used bikes to sell now that our new bikes rental fleet arrived. Hopefully the workforce situation will be better, but the housing crisis here makes that even more difficult. Hopefully Covid-19 vaccinations become more widespread. Ptown Bikes has a 100% vaccination rating for our staff. Henceforth, vaccinations will be required to work here.
Thank you all for helping us have a successful 27th season, it turned out better than I anticipated. Next year `will be our 28th season and we wish to remain your place for bikes long beyond that. Please stay safe and well and please be kind to one another.
Thank you, thank you,
Bill Meadows and the staff of Ptown Bikes
See you in April 2022!