Local business owners preparing for another lockdown

A masked cyclist enjoys an afternoon during the quarantine (image taken from the Internet and labeled for reuse).

A masked cyclist enjoys an afternoon during the quarantine (image taken from the Internet and labeled for reuse).

Gerard Allen '21, Staff Writer

The day is winding down and the sky is finally starting to show that uniquely early autumn 5:30 glow, marking the gradual descent into winter. As cars incrementally begin to pile up on the Post Road, ensuring the beginning of the rush hour traffic home, Joyce Baldwin is packing up her store.

Along with her husband, she runs Cycleology, an outdoorsy bike and ski shop situated at the corner of Maple Avenue and the Post Road. 

They are just a pair of the millions of small business owners who have been forced to make adjustments since the first spike of COVID-19 cases in the U.S.–and subsequent lockdown–last March. 

“Bikes and repair parts [became] more and more difficult to get,” Baldwin said, “and it became a daily search to source parts and bikes from our various vendors.” 

Like so many other essential businesses, Baldwin adapted the business model so it would comply with social distancing regulations, offering curbside pickup as well as delivery for repairs. Additionally, following the cleaning and traffic protocols mandated by the government became part of the new routine. But with these changes came a litany of problems.

Many staff were either unable or unwilling to work in the midst of a pandemic, and as a result, Cycleology was forced to cut their operating hours in half and began to open only five days a week. 

Luckily, the pandemic actually saw an influx of business for Cycleology, as more and more people turned to biking during the quarantine. However, now that the possibility of a second wave of lockdowns is receiving more attention as colder months approach, the Baldwins are facing yet another set of consequences. 

“As ski season approaches and bike season begins to wind down, it would really depend a lot on whether the ski mountains in the northeast would all be able to stay open,” Baldwin said. “If mountains were forced to close our business would quickly come to halt and the risk of sitting on a season of inventory would have a huge impact on us.” 

“If mountains were forced to close our business would quickly come to halt and the risk of sitting on a season of inventory would have a huge impact on us.”

— Joyce Baldwin

However, she expresses hope for the future.

“If the mountains [opened] and everyone looked to ski as an outlet and welcome outside activity like they did with biking,” Baldwin said, “[…] it would be similar to what we experienced in the beginning with bike season with staff and inventory.”

Broadly speaking, Joyce and Matt Baldwin are part of the vertebrae that makes up the backbone of the nation’s economy. The lockdown thus far has proved to be extremely costly. To this day, the federal government has issued roughly $349 billion in loans to aid businesses like theirs, and with roughly 30 million small businesses in the U.S. and the possibility of a second wave of lockdowns looming overhead, that number may continue to rise. 

Until then, in spite of many possibilities, it is the everyday heroes of shop workers that seem to give the most support, as the Baldwins continue to credit their loyal staff. 

“Our staff was incredible,” Baldwin said,  “picking up the slack working hard to keep up with the increase in demand.”