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Bikes, kayaks harder to find on P.E.I. as pandemic curbs supplies

cbc.ca logo cbc.ca 2020-07-08 Sheehan Desjardins
a bicycle parked on the side of a building: 'Things have changed quite a bit since the beginning of COVID to today,' says Dayan Gonzalez, the manager at MacQueen's Bike Shop in Charlottetown. © Sheehan Desjardins/CBC 'Things have changed quite a bit since the beginning of COVID to today,' says Dayan Gonzalez, the manager at MacQueen's Bike Shop in Charlottetown.

Some businesses on P.E.I. are struggling to keep up with the demand for outdoor sporting goods following booming sales at the start of the season as the global COVID-19 pandemic told hold. 

"It was a good beginning but right now it is turning bad," said Dayan Gonzalez, the manager at MacQueen's Bike Shop in Charlottetown.

Gonzalez said he saw twice the number of sales this spring compared to last. But now, the company is losing between $5,000 and $10,000 in sales a day.

"Yesterday alone, I had three people looking for mountain bikes and a nice mountain bike retails for around $6,000 … or maybe $1,000 for an entry-level one," he said. 

"When you have three of those sales gone, those hit you hard." 

a house in front of a brick building: Gonzalez says the spike in sales, closed factories and people working from home have made things 'messy for everybody.' © Sheehan Desjardins/CBC Gonzalez says the spike in sales, closed factories and people working from home have made things 'messy for everybody.'

According to Gonzalez, the problem stems from suppliers. He said a lot of bike producers are located in Asia and their factories were closed for weeks at the beginning of the pandemic. On top of that, many suppliers' employees are working from home, which adds steps when placing orders. 

"It is not just us," he said. "This is happening all across North America." 

'Hard to find'

Doug Campbell from Blooming Point, P.E.I., visited several shops on the Island trying to get a bike for himself and his son. 

"They've been hard to find," he said.

Eventually, Campbell found a road bike to purchase. His son, however, was out of luck.

"We're not planning on any real trips too far afield this year, so it's a good opportunity to get out, get some exercise and bike with the family," said Campbell. 

'Ride out demand'

It's not just bikes. Wes Slauenwhite, the general manager at Sporting Intentions in Charlottetown, said they are completely sold out of recreational kayaks and won't be able to get any more for the remainder of the summer. 

"The paddle sports lately, since the weather warmed up, has just been on fire," Slauenwhite said.

a house that is parked in front of a building: 'I think it's going to be a long-term increase in demand for all the products that we sell that are related to outdoor activities,' said Wes Slauenwhite, general manager at Sporting Intentions. © Sheehan Desjardins/CBC 'I think it's going to be a long-term increase in demand for all the products that we sell that are related to outdoor activities,' said Wes Slauenwhite, general manager at Sporting Intentions.

The month of June was "the largest month in the history of Sporting Intentions," according to Slauenwhite. He said they have received all the inventory they can for the summer season. The focus now is on the fall. 

"We're going to have to ride out demand with what we have," he said. 

A boat rental shop in Charlottetown said it has had customers inquire about purchasing its stock. And while Sporting Intentions does still have some higher-end water products, anything at the entry-level price point is gone. 

"I think a lot of people are just going to have to borrow their friend's kayak," said Slauenwhite. "Or wait until next year if they weren't able to jump in early."

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