KENNEWICK, WA - While many businesses have had their fair share of struggles during the pandemic one Tri-Cities business saw a boom in customers and is still trying to keep up with demand.
Nearly one year ago, Jerry Markee of Markee's Cycling Center didn't know what was going to happen to his shop.
"We were not sure if we were going to have to close or be open we didn't know... luckily because of transportation, bike shops were named essential business," Markee said.
His business started to pick up with more people staying home and getting into bike riding because of the pandemic. This trend caused "a bike boom" across the U.S.
"In the summer we had people come from California to buy bikes from us... Every weekend we had people come from Seattle to buy our bicycles, Spokane, and Yakima... there wasn't a single bike on the showroom floor in Yakima last summer," Markee said.
Markee started to plan ahead buying not only what he needed but what he thought he might need in the future.
"What happened when the pandemic hit, if you didn't get on the phone and do a lot of major purchasing and plan for shortages the ship sailed quick,' Markee said.
For many bike shops around the state, Markee said it's still hard to find items in stock.
"If it's bicycles, repair parts, almost every category is zero. Everything dealers are being fed right now is existing back orders," Markee said.
Thanks to his early planning, his shop now has more in stock than most other shops in the state. Markee calls himself lucky but knows his inventory could run short.
"They are not projecting the bike business to be back to normal until mid-next summer assuming with the pandemic we don't have more outbreaks, I mean there is a lot of variables out there, our economy I mean who knows," Markee said.
Even as things start to get back to normal he warns 'bike sales' may not for a while.
"You can only go so long without inventory and so unfortunately there is going to be a patrician in the bike business because you can only run a business for so long if you can't buy products and it's not just our industry it's many industries," Markee said.