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Bike Shops Boomed Early In The Pandemic. It’s Been A Bumpy Ride For Most Ever Since

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Bike Shop: Image Pixa Bay

For the nation’s bicycle stores, the last several years have certainly felt like the business version of the Tour de France, with innumerable twists and turns testing their stamina.

Early in the pandemic, a surge in interest in cycling drove sales up 64% to $5.4 billion in 2020, according to Circana, the retail tracking firm. It wasn’t uncommon for some stores to sell 100 or more bikes in a few days.

The boom did not last. Due to pandemic-related supply chain challenges, the retailers sold out of bikes and struggled to replenish. Inventory has caught up, but fewer people require new bicycles. Bicycle manufacturers have started lowering prices to clear off excess inventory. It all adds up to a challenging climate for retailers, with a few bright areas such as dirt and e-bikes.

“The industry had a hard time keeping up with demand for a couple of years, but then demand slowed as the lockdowns ended, and a lot of inventory started showing up,” said Stephen Frothingham, editor-in-chief of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News. “So now for the last, a year and a half, the industry has struggled with having too much inventory, at the supplier level, at the factory level, at the distributor level, at the retail level.”

Circana reports that bike sales will reach $4.1 billion in 2023, up 23% from 2019 but down 24% from 2020. The recovery from the epidemic has been uneven, with large businesses such as REI and Scheels recovering faster than independent bike shops, according to Matt Tucker, director of client development for Circana’s sports equipment business.

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Bike Shop: Image Pixa Bay

Bike Shops Boomed Early In The Pandemic. It’s Been A Bumpy Ride For Most Ever Since

John McDonell, owner of Market Street Cycles on San Francisco’s famed Market Street, says the pandemic’s shift to hybrid labor has been especially difficult for business. During the summer, 3,000 bikes would pass by his shop each day. With fewer individuals commuting to work, that number has dropped to less than 1,000.

According to Pacer.ai, which tracks people’s activities based on smartphone usage, San Francisco falls behind all other major cities regarding workers returning to work, with office visits down 49% from April 2019.

“Our downtown is still a wasteland,” McDonell explained.

Independent bike stores now compete not only with national chains but also with bike manufacturers such as Specialized and Trek. These companies have been buying bike shops and selling their bikes directly to customers, thus eliminating the middleman. According to Frothingham, there are now over 1,000 bike shops in the country that are either owned by Trek or Specialized.

“They’ve got the money to absorb the fact that bike stores, you know, are not a super profitable thing, and in the process, they’ve also been able to cut us out of it,” McDonell stated.

McDonell has been obliged to use a skeleton team of himself and another employee, down from five earlier. His desire to sell his shop to a younger bike enthusiast when he retires is diminishing. He might close his store when his lease expires in a few years.

bike

Bike Shop: Image Pixa Bay

Bike Shops Boomed Early In The Pandemic. It’s Been A Bumpy Ride For Most Ever Since

“Now I am just trying to land it with both engines on fire and trying not to lose money on my way out,” he stated

Douglas Emerson’s bike business, University Bicycles, in Boulder, Colorado, is doing better, thanks to its placement in one of the country’s most popular biking destinations. He’s owned the shop for 39 years and employs 30 people.

University Bicycles, like other bike retailers, experienced a surge in bike sales due to the pandemic. Emerson recalls selling 107 bicycles in 48 hours. However, immediately following the boom, sales fell considerably due to a lack of inventory, and rentals declined because no one was traveling.

“It became a struggle right after the boom,” Emerson explained. “Since then, manufacturers have overproduced.” In addition, they have significantly reduced prices, which benefits consumers. However, tiny retailers generally cannot take advantage of those discounts.”

Emerson claims the shop hit a “saturation point” when everyone who wanted a bike purchased one. He now sells these consumer items such as jackets, helmets, and locks. His store has returned to its 2019 sales figures.

University Bicycles has also benefited from some of the changes in purchasing trends. The continued strong demand for e-bikes and the increased need for children’s bikes have contributed. Gravel bikes, which can be ridden on both paved and dirt routes, are displacing road cycles as a top seller.

John Ruger, a 50-year biker and faithful University Bicycles client, hasn’t purchased a bike in ten years but intends to buy a gravel bike at present costs. He says a top gravel bike he’s interested in, which would normally cost $12,000 to $14,000, is presently on sale for $8,000.

bike

Bike Shop: Image Pixa Bay

Bike Shops Boomed Early In The Pandemic. It’s Been A Bumpy Ride For Most Ever Since

“The timing is good,” he remarked. “I can get a bike now because they’re less expensive and my bikes are getting old.”

Shawna Williams, the owner of Free Range Cycles in Seattle, Washington, did not see the same sales boom as others because her 700-square-foot business was so small that she only accepted customers by appointment from March 2020 to May 2021.

However, Williams did have to deal with the coming shortages. She spent a great deal of time “checking in with other shops to see if we could buy something, even at retail, from them, just in order to get a repair done or a build done.”

She expanded her service offerings, such as repairs and maintenance, to compensate for decreasing bike sales. Despite the epidemic, the maneuvering allowed her to maintain consistent overall sales.

“Bike sales, the way that I have kind of framed the shop, are an awesome bonus, but we really need to be sustaining the shop through repair and, like, thoughtful accessory sales,” Williams stated. “A bike sale to me, if we do things well, that means creating a customer for life.”

SOURCE – (AP)

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

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Supreme Court, Siding With Starbucks, Makes It Harder For NLRB To Win Court Orders In Labor Disputes

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Starbucks | PixaBay Image

Washington: In a decision sparked by a labor dispute with Starbucks, the Supreme Court on Thursday made it more difficult for the federal government to obtain court orders when it suspected a corporation of meddling in unionization efforts.

The justices raised the bar on when a federal court may require worker jobs to be protected during a union organizing drive.

A higher standard, pushed by Starbucks that must be satisfied in most other disputes over court orders or injunctions, was favored by the court unanimously over a provision that some courts had applied to orders requested by the National Labour Relations Board.

starbucks

Starbucks | PixaBay Image

Supreme Court, Siding With Starbucks, Makes It Harder For NLRB To Win Court Orders In Labor Disputes

The National Labour Relations Act, which controls the agency, has, the NLRB had contended, permitted judges to issue temporary injunctions for over 75 years if they determined that the requests were “just and proper.” According to the agency, the statute was meant to restrict the power of the courts and does not need it to demonstrate any additional elements.

“Consistent federal standards are important in ensuring that employees know their rights and consistent labour practices are upheld no matter where in the country they work and live,” Starbucks stated after the ruling.

However, Lynne Fox, head of the union representing the workers, claimed that Starbucks should have abandoned the lawsuit as part of its more accommodating stance on union organizing initiatives. When their employers disobey the law, working people have very few options for self-defense. That makes today’s Supreme Court decision especially horrible, said Workers United president Fox.

Starbucks fired seven employees in February 2022 for attempting to organize their Tennessee location. The matter moved through the agency’s administrative procedures while the NLRB won a court order requiring the employer to rehire the employees. Two years may pass during such procedures.

starbucks

Starbucks | AP news image

Supreme Court, Siding With Starbucks, Makes It Harder For NLRB To Win Court Orders In Labor Disputes

Starbucks was ordered to rehire the employees in August 2022 by a temporary injunction issued by a district court judge who concurred with the NLRB. Starbucks appealed to the Supreme Court following the upholding of that decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

According to Workers United, the union organizing Starbucks workers, five of the seven workers are still employed at the Memphis store, while the other two continue involved with the organizing campaign. The Memphis store voted to unionize in June 2022.

As the case proceeded, antagonism between Workers United and Starbucks began to dissolve. The two parties declared in February that they would reopen talks to complete contract agreements this year, and they convened their first bargaining session in nearly a year in late April.

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Starbucks | PixaBay Image

Supreme Court, Siding With Starbucks, Makes It Harder For NLRB To Win Court Orders In Labor Disputes

According to the NLRB, workers at 437 company-owned U.S. Starbucks cafes have voted to unionize since late 2021, but none of those stores has achieved a labor agreement with Starbucks.

Starbucks said it’s pursuing its goal of obtaining finalized contracts for those outlets this year.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Elon Musk Drops Lawsuit Against ChatGPT-Maker OpenAI Without Explanation

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Musk | AP News Image

SAN FRANCISCO — Elon Musk dismissed his lawsuit against OpenAI just before a scheduled hearing on Wednesday.

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Musk | Euro News Image

Elon Musk Drops Lawsuit Against ChatGPT-Maker OpenAI Without Explanation

Musk sued the San Francisco artificial intelligence business and its CEO Sam Altman in February, accusing them of betraying the ChatGPT maker’s basic goals of serving humanity rather than maximising profits.

In the February lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court, billionaire Musk claimed that when he bankrolled OpenAI’s creation, he reached an agreement with Altman and the president, Greg Brockman, to keep the AI company as a nonprofit that would develop technology for the public’s benefit and keep its code open rather than walling it off for private profit.

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Musk | AP News Image

Elon Musk Drops Lawsuit Against ChatGPT-Maker OpenAI Without Explanation

However, Musk claimed in the complaint that by embracing a tight relationship with Microsoft, OpenAI and its top executives “aflame” that pact and are “perverting” the company’s objective.

Most legal experts believe Musk’s accusations, which revolve around allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and unfair business practices, are unlikely to succeed in court. Musk’s attorney submitted a notice on Tuesday seeking to dismiss the entire case. There was no explanation for why it was being dropped.

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Musk | AP news Image

Elon Musk Drops Lawsuit Against ChatGPT-Maker OpenAI Without Explanation

Musk’s lawyers and OpenAI did not immediately return calls for comment.

SOURCE – (AP)

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American Investor Martin Shkreli Accused Of Copying And Sharing One-Of-A-Kind Wu-Tang Clan Album

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Martin Shkreli | AP News Image

NEW YORK — Martin Shkreli, an American investor, is facing a new lawsuit for allegedly storing and sharing recordings from a unique Wu-Tang Clan album that he was forced to sell after being convicted of securities fraud in 2017.

PleasrDAO, a cryptocurrency collective, filed the case on Monday after paying Shkreli $4.75 million for the only known copy of the album. The record, “Once Upon a Time is Shaolin,” has remained unreleased to the public, serving as a rare contemporary art piece since it was auctioned off by the renowned hip-hop group in 2015.

PleasrDAO accused Shkreli of violating their agreement by retaining digital copies of the album and circulating them extensively among his social media followers in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York.

shkreli

Shkreli | AP News Image

American Investor Martin Shkreli Accused Of Copying And Sharing One-Of-A-Kind Wu-Tang Clan Album

They allude to his recent social media posts boasting of distributing the digital recordings to “thousands of people.” According to the lawsuit, Shkreli played bits of the album during a livestream he hosted on X over the weekend, referring to it as a “Wu tang official listening party.”

Shkreli has not responded to a request for comment.

The lawsuit is the latest twist in a unique record created in protest of music’s devaluation in the streaming era but purchased at auction by Shkreli, a man infamous for inflating the price of a life-saving prescription and his “Pharma Bro” reputation.

shkreli

Shkreli | Coin Base Image

American Investor Martin Shkreli Accused Of Copying And Sharing One-Of-A-Kind Wu-Tang Clan Album

Following his conviction on securities fraud charges, Shkreli was compelled to sell the CD, which came in a hand-crafted silver and nickel casing and included a 174-page leather-bound book.

PleasrDAO stated that it purchased both the physical copy of the record and its digital rights in two transactions, in 2021 and 2024. They stated that Shkreli had erased all traces of the album’s files.

“Any dissemination of the Album’s music to the general public greatly diminishes and/or destroys the Album’s value, and significantly damages PleasrDAO’s reputation and ability to commercially exploit the Album,” the complaint claims.

shkreli

Shkreli | SF Gate Image

American Investor Martin Shkreli Accused Of Copying And Sharing One-Of-A-Kind Wu-Tang Clan Album

As of last month, the record was on its way to Australia’s Museum of Old and New Art, which announced that it would begin hosting private listening sessions this week showcasing chosen album tracks.

SOURCE – (AP)

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