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Local boat and bike sales ‘exploding’

LAKE PLACID — It’s been widely reported that the pandemic drove individuals closer to nature, making the bike and boat industries’ busy season that much busier.

“Our phone is ringing off of the hook,” Owner and Operator of Lake Placid-based canoe manufacturer Placid Boatworks Joe Moore told the Press-Republican. “We’re booked out to February on new orders.

“Before COVID, our longest wait time was three weeks.”

Going outside

Moore blamed the pandemic for the demand increase.

“I think people had a lot of time to sit and think — and maybe extra money, too, to get things.”

He referenced increased unemployment earnings and thought stimulus checks could have had an impact, too.

Plattsburgh’s Viking Ski ‘N Cycle Sales Manager John Cwikla said bikes sales were also up and gave some credit to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well.

“People want to get outside and it’s a way to be outside, be with people, but you can still maintain a distance, if that’s what you choose to do.”

Plus, the sport was a lot of “bang for your buck as far as exercise goes.”

“You can cover distances where you see a variety of scenery and it’s not a high-body impact sport.”

Made in town

Moore opened his small business on Station Street in 2004.

He joked store pup Maverick, a nine-and-a-half year old chocolate lab, has run the place for the last decade or so.

Moore manufactures pack canoes, which he described as ultra-lite, open-top kayaks, with help from employee Scott Cayea and sells them, alongside accessories, onsite with help from some part-timers.

The boats, of which there are seven models, start at about $3,000 a piece.

“They’re all made of carbon and kevlar. We vacuum infuse, which means all of the fabric is laid in the mold dry and then we put a bag over the whole thing and seal it and then pull a vacuum and then put the resin in.”

That’s the same technology used when Placid Boatworks manufactures luge pods for the U.S.A. Olympic team.

Industry swamped

At the start of the pandemic, Moore was working solo until he could no longer.

“The orders just started piling in, so I brought (Cayea) back.”

While some industries were having supply chain issues, Placid Boatworks had been luckily unscathed.

“There have been some scares here and there, but we’ve been able to get things,” he said.

Still, with demand increasing, supplies have become more costly.

Moore said resin has been the most impacted on that front, but said he has “held the line” so far on his prices.

“But we’ll probably have to increase soon. I keep getting notices just about daily about prices going up. With prices going up and availability going down — it’s not a good scenario.”

Backpedaling

Viking Ski ‘N Cycle on Route 3 in Plattsburgh is also feeling the heat.

The family-owned business sells ski equipment in the winter, but turns into a cycling hub during the summer season, selling bikes and equipment, while running an onsite repair shop.

Cwikla, who has been in the cycling and outdoor sports industry for 25 years, said bike sales over the last 15 to 17 months have “exploded.”

“We can’t keep mountain bikes on the floor,” Cwikla said, noting that road bikes weren’t as popular at the moment. “We’ve reached a point where what we do now is, if someone comes in looking for a bike, if we don’t have it, we’ll take their information and we have a list for each style of bike, each of the brands — we will call people in order when the bike does reach the door here and ask, ‘Are you still interested or have you found something else?’

“That’s been working out great for us.”

And when the store does get new shipments, the bikes are quickly pedaled back out the door.

“We had three delivered late yesterday afternoon,” the sales manager said Thursday morning. “Two of them are already what we consider pre-sold.”

Repair shop

Cwikla said it wasn’t so much the manufacturers tasked with building the bike frames, but rather those supplying the other parts that were causing the hold up.

“If we go onto the Shimano (cycling components company) website, they’ll say, ‘This will be available sometime in 2022.'”

That, mixed with an increase in cyclists, has bogged down Viking Ski ‘N Cycle’s repair shop.

“If you dropped your bike today, you’d see it in about 10 days,” Cwikla said. “We’ve been running anywhere from five days from time of drop off to two weeks from time of drop off.

Two years ago, Cwikla said the repairs would have slowed down by this time of year.

“So that has also exploded. The people that aren’t buying new bikes are pulling their old bikes out of their sheds, their garages, their basements,” he added. “We’ve been resurrecting bikes that are older, probably as much as we work on more modern products.”

‘Can’t complain’

As busy as his days have been, Moore said there were worse things.

“I can’t really complain,” he said. “My business has been busy this whole time; this has been great for my business.”

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