IDAHO — At the start of the pandemic it was difficult to find a roll of toilet paper, and now a year later that is what it's like to try and buy a bike and other outdoor equipment.
Local bike shops are struggling to keep up with the growing demand and lack of inventory.
“The bikes I am receiving right now are the bikes I purchased May, June, July of last year,” Jeremy Jensen, Ridgeline Bike and Ski owner said.
"A year ago this time I could almost buy anything I wanted and get it here in a week and now it has completely changed," Ryan Cowling, Kore North Bicycles and Skateboards owner said.
Cowling said that some customers are having to wait six weeks to get their bikes where other shops won't get bikes until next year.
"At the start of the pandemic in March of last year I had a few weeks where it got really scary and we didn’t have hardly any customers coming in, and then it is almost like a switch went off and it got crazy and we were selling everything that wasn’t nailed down," he said. "Everything was going and it was going quickly."
An even bigger issue is that the factories can't keep up with the high demand and they don't have enough parts to complete orders fully.
"The components are low, the factories are low, well they are actually doing three times what they are usually building, but they are not meeting the demand of our customers," Jensen said. "So I say low but they are actually building more bikes than they have ever but now with the demand, they can’t keep up with it."
"We still get bikes and products all the time but it is nowhere near what we need to fulfill the demand so it has just been really really hard," Cowling said. "But I think a lot of the shops and businesses that are creative are the ones that are really surviving."
For the first time in Cowlings's 18 years of owning a bike shop, he has had to turn customers away.
"It’s not the time to be too picky, so if you want to get on a bike and you kind of find something that fits the bill you might want to buy it," Cowling said.
"This sounds like a terrible sales pitch, but as soon as you find something you like you better buy it because it will be gone that day," Jensen said.
For the shops there's also a silver lining, being able to share their passion for the outdoors with more Idahoans because more of them are purchasing bikes than ever before.
“From the beginning, bike shops were determined to be an essential part of transportation, but it also became an essential piece of recreational activities," Jensen said. "We have noticed a triple-digit growth of customers coming looking for products, and solutions to go outside and recreate on their bicycles and other activities.”