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Back Bay bicycle shop closes
By adamg on Mon, 01/09/2023 - 3:58pm
Papa Wheelies Back Bay, which had been selling bicycles at 362 Comm. Ave., at Mass. Ave. since 1992, initially as Back Bay Bicycles, closed last month. Its Wellesley and Portsmouth, NH locations remain open.
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OK, I'll be the pedant
While BBB/Papa Wheelies closed at the Mass and Comm site, they were on Newbury street for a while, at least up into the early/mid 00's.
Sad to see them go, they employed and sponsored a whole bunch of colorful folks who helped make the Boston area bike scene a more passionate and interesting place. They were especially important to the MTB scene of the late 90's/early 00's as a number of riders who were part of the downhill and dirt jump scenes worked there.
While they were well-positioned (literally) to capture commuter traffic, I'm willing to bet the lean repair years of the pandemic probably didn't help them at all. With only Cambridge Bikes left on Mass Ave, commuters are running out of easy options on this huge North-South route.
Lean repair years?
The pandemic sparked a big boom in cycling, which should have led to more demand for repairs.
covid bike repair$
i called a few places to tune up some older bikes we had in the garage so we could ride with the kids during the lockdown. the waits, for tune-ups, was at least 2 months and it was pretty expensive. i wound up doing the work myself.
You can only make repairs if you can get the parts.
Yup, lean repair years
While demand for bikes and bike repair hit a high note during the pandemic, the supply chain disruption meant that some common repair parts were delayed anywhere from six months to almost two years. 26" tires all but disappeared for a number of months, and some distributors were sold out of 6/7/8sp chains for almost a year. It was...not great.
If your shop was big enough to have a warehouse and a buyer who didn't subscribe to Just-in-Time delivery for common repair parts, the first year of the pandemic was amazing for your repair business. A bunch of small shops couldn't do that though, and were faced with a number of repairs they could only 60-80% complete. More flexible shops bought parts online at retail to fill in the gaps, but that negatively impacts the bottom line, even as it handles the customer service side.
I don't know the specifics of BBB's operations during the pandemic, but I do know that of other area shops and most of them were stymied by poor part availability, poor complete bike availability, or both.
As of now, most of those backlogs have been filled, often at an inconvenient time for retailers (late fall/winter). If you're looking to have your bike fixed, or buy a new bike, now is the time to go support your local bike shop. They probably have too much stuff, too little demand, and would love to get you rolling again.
We joked in 2021
In 2019 we would have never imagined a sudden, radical change which would be great for bike shops and horrible for barbers.