Fabian Kniegl hadn't expected that. The corona crisis gives him much more work than usual. In the interview, he explains why.
Holzkirchen - Thanks to the Corona crisis, many people suddenly have a lot of free time - and obviously want to whiz through the area with their bike. Fabian Kniegl (42), owner of the bike ranch in Reitham, feels this trend very clearly. Because the customers run him into the booth. His industry is benefiting massively from the pandemic. A conversation about fabulous sales, fully parked streets and the latest trends.
Mr. Kniegl, early summer, sun, Corona: Are people running into the booth now?
Yes, it is unimaginable. The day with the highest sales was March 17, the day before the lockdown. There was a lot of panic among the people. You suddenly had a lot of free time, were working short-time and had no bike. For a Tuesday, a day during the week, it was amazing.
Did it go on like that?
Shortly after the lockdown, it was very quiet, almost dead. There was great insecurity among the people. And the Easter business with children's bikes has migrated a lot to the Internet. But when word got around that the workshops were allowed to open and the weather turned good, the workshop was quickly packed.
That means specifically?
There are days when 130 bikes come to be repaired. Usually there are around 40 pieces. We no longer know where to park the bikes. Fortunately, we have planned an extension that has now been approved after many years.
This will definitely give you air in the future. Where do all the broken wheels come from?
Many people now have a lot of time and dig out bikes that have been in the basement for 30 years. We also get a lot of retro items. At times the customers parked up to the Schwarzer petrol station, it was so full. It was a little inconvenient for us that the Dorfstrasse was being renovated at the time and some parking spaces were therefore not available. Some villagers jokingly asked me if they would give me money because our customers parked their yards fully.
Have the customers always behaved in the face of the rush?
Some customers did not want to accept that no sale could take place during the lockdown. Then I told them that Reitham is not an autonomous state, but belongs to Bavaria. And that our shop is closed due to legal regulations.
You have been allowed to sell again for some time. Can you keep up with work at all?
At first we applied for short-time work. We canceled this application in advance because we suddenly had so much work. We are currently working around the clock in the workshop. My team has already put the knife on my chest and said that it can't go on like this. Now we are considering suspending shipping and no longer repairing foreign bikes. We want to be there for every customer and are happy about the rush, but we are also reaching our limits.
Then you need almost more staff.
I would like to hire more people, but it is difficult to find professionals. And space due to the lengthy approval process is also not yet available. And the technology around the wheels is getting more and more complicated. You have to have already learned that.
Which models do your customers jump on?
E-bikes are the big hit, but also the complete range. The latest trend is gravel bikes. These are racing bikes with off-road tires.
Be honest: is the pandemic ultimately a blessing for your industry, from an economic perspective?
We recorded a significant increase in sales, but had to cope with this spring boom almost in a month, which is hardly tradable. Unfortunately, billing is only always carried out at the end of the year, and since the suppliers are all sold out, it will become clear what will come out.
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