Another personal update from Ben - and some shop news!
Here we go again. It’s the spring of 2021, and year five for London Bicycle Café! Many businesses don’t survive the first twelve months, yet here we are, forty eight months later, and we see nothing but blue skies and tailwinds ahead. We’re open for all bike services by appointment only, working curbside as best as we can as we try to endure what we hope are the final few months of the pandemic.
Last year the global pandemic led to a boom in bicycling not seen in North America since the 1970s. During the first wave, families stayed home, and many folks took to the streets, riding together in ways we haven’t seen in a generation. E-bikes continued to explode, too, enabling millions of people (yes, millions) to get on a bike who had maybe not ridden in many years, or like my family, have largely replaced all our car use with e-bikes - using them to go further, carry more, and do more than any traditional non-electric bike might have allowed. While the espresso bar remains closed, we’ve found new ways to connect with our community, bringing our mobile repair bike to your homes (appointments now available), and launching a cargo-bike based delivery service for our new web store. We were fortunate in our ability to adapt to the challenges of the year, and are excited for what lies ahead. Especially once we’ve all received our first dose of vaccine next week.
Our business has always been about you: the Londoner who wants to cycle more often. We believe that by offering comfortable upright bikes, family cycles, and fast friendly service, we can encourage a different kind of person to jump on two (or three) wheels and ride “To the Grocery Store and Beyond.” We’ve seen this growth through our first four seasons, and the change in the styles and diversity of bikes we see on the TVP, or on the streets, or at the market on Saturdays is noticeable to our eye. Our newest bikes from Tern have been well reviewed by our early adopters, and the refreshed line of e-bikes from Royal Dutch Gazelle has been exciting folks all across southwestern Ontario. We dare say that London finally has a nascent and growing citizen-cycling culture, and we’re working to stay on the forefront of this transformation.
My family is growing, too. Caroline and I are expecting our second child this summer - a boy due at the end of June. With a growing family, and a growing business, there was clearly need for a more staff this season (welcome, Alex!), but also in terms of operations, we’ve built something that works, and we’re ready to take the leap to our next stage.
Andrew Hunniford has been part of our store’s journey since the beginning of our little shop. Neither of us can remember when exactly we met, but we’ve certainly shared some memories over the past few years. He’s a father, husband, community builder, and passionate Londoner to the core, and if you’ve been to the Cleardale-Highland bike rodeo, you know his enthusiasm for bikes runs deep. Andrew approached me about becoming a part of the London Bicycle Café operation this past fall, seeking to work closer with people in his local community, and to help individuals and families ride their bikes more often. His background in enterprise-level business is rare in the retail bike industry, and we spent a lot of time talking about what London Bicycle Café could become as we grow with the city’s bike culture. Eventually we came to an agreement for Andrew to become our General Manager this winter, and I’m so thrilled to introduce him (officially) to our community. He’ll be working in the store full time, and his presence has already allowed us to do more in 2021 than we’ve ever been able to do in the past, helping more people, in more places, ride their bikes every day.
Without further ado, here’s Andrew.
ps - check out our Instagram if you want to see how Caroline’s doing. She’s still riding, enjoying the spring sunshine!