By Chris Parsick
While Long Island has traipsed through the four stages of reopening during the ongoing pandemic, many businesses have experienced a lull in sales. Movie theaters and concert venues face an unknown future. However, one booming business has turned out to be bicycle retail sales.
“Sales are outpacing supplies. We have almost zero bicycles in stock and whenever we get more, they sell out in hours.”
— Neal Passoff
A New York Times article published earlier this month by Sasha von Oldershausen depicts the situation in New York City. The article describes stores sold out of bicycles with the wait for repairs reaching to the better part of a month. The article’s author points out that this pandemic may mark a change in the city to bicycles as a primary mode of transportation.
Is the same thing happening on Long Island?
Bicycle sales are certainly up, according to many bicycle shops on the North Shore.
“There has definitely been a huge increase,” said Neal Passoff, the president of Campus Cycle in Stony Brook. “Sales are outpacing supplies. We have almost zero bicycles in stock and whenever we get more, they sell out in hours.”
Campus Cycle isn’t alone in experiencing this unprecedented demand for bicycles. Both Cycle Company in Smithtown and Rocky Point Cycle tell similar tales.
“We have about a hundred bikes on backorder,” said Matt Connolly of Rocky Point Cycle. “They won’t be available until mid to late fall.”
Does this mean that bicycles will become the main mode of transportation on the Island? A spring when many residents spent socially distanced at home has turned into a summer where many sporting-related businesses are saying they’ve seen an increase in sales.
The boating retail business has also seen huge boons.
“It’s the busiest season we’ve had in our 21 years of business.” said Cathy Bouquio, of Port Inflatables in Port Jefferson Station. “We’ve had more sales in this season to this date than we’ve had in entire seasons.”
The Port Inflatables owner said it may be due to people spending their vacation money on recreation here on Long Island.
They’re not alone. Other local boating businesses like Island Watersports in Port Jefferson have seen similar increases.
The reason that Long Island won’t likely experience the same switch to bicycles that the city is facing lies in the available modes of transportation. In 2016, the MTA reported 67.2 percent of the city’s workers using public transit to get to their jobs. The New York Times article specifically cites a distrust of public transportation to prevent COVID-19 transmission as a key factor in the switch to bicycles as a primary mode of transportation. However, on Long Island, close to 82 percent of working-age people rely on cars for their daily commute.
As just one example, hitch installations, used to secure bikes to the top or rear of a car, are also on the rise.
“We’ve seen increased hitch installations for both watercrafts and bike racks.” said Artie Kagel, of Mount Sinai Wheel and Alignment.
Airlines are continuing to see a steep decline in revenues compared to previous years, while several states have also experienced a daily increase in coronavirus cases. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has mandated those traveling to New York from a number of these high-COVID states are ordered to complete a 14-day quarantine.
Business owners on the North Shore said they want to believe more people will be spending their summers at home on Long Island, but either way, they are happy for the increased sales.
Anthony Boglino, the owner of the Premier Pools & Spas in Port Jefferson Station, said he has seen increased sales of both pools and spas, though the pandemic has made getting a permit for a new pool a challenge. As for whether he sees more people doing staycations on Long Island, “I hope so,” he said. “You’re guess is as good as mine.”