EAST COBB, Ga. — Businesses everywhere are struggling to stay afloat, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to keep people inside. Now, shop owners are getting creative with ways to keep their customers happy – even if it means renting out the equipment that would otherwise be collecting dust.

“We shut our doors on Monday,” Kirsten Rickers, co-owner of Cyclebar East Cobb, said “We have a community of riders that were all emailing us saying ‘oh no, please don't close down.’ They feel very connected, and this is their source of therapy. They wanted to help us, and we wanted to help them, so we came up with the idea to start renting out the bikes to them.”

She said the offer was extended to their most loyal riders – people they see on a daily basis. For an extra $50 a month, the member could keep one of the stationary bikes and continue the spin classes online. Cyclebar associates even sweetened the deal by delivering the bikes, instead of requiring the members to pick them up.

“Within about 24 hours, we had gotten rid of every single one of our bikes,” Rickers said. “We delivered I think 46 out of 49 bikes.”

“It was very quick, and we really only sent the email out to a select group of people,” Lee Oesterling, co-owner of Cyclebar, said. “It was our most frequent riders, and they responded very quickly. As a matter of fact, we had to turn several of them away this morning, and we're still getting emails about whether or not we have bikes.”

Before completely shutting down, Oesterling, said they were starting to offer smaller classes with more separation between bikes. Unfortunately, that only lasted a few days, she said.

“Then, we were left with ‘okay, we've got 48 bikes with nobody riding them and lots of patrons in our community that face the option of being in their house for a long period of time,’” Oesterling said. “So being able to provide them bikes and a way for us to stay in touch with them, for them to stay in touch with us, is hopefully going to work to maintain our sense of community in this kind of crazy time.”

One stationary bike will remain in the studio where an instructor will live stream the classes. Oesterling said this is unchartered territory for the studio.

“We are learning on the fly,” she said. “It will be interesting to see how well it's received, and if the technology works. So we're kind of being guinea pigs here.”

Once the coronavirus is no longer a threat, and the studio is able to reopen, Rickers said all the bikes will be collected and properly cleaned before in-person classes resume.

“We're going to clean every single bike top to bottom,” she said. “We're using gloves, we’re using all sorts of disinfectant. We're going to make sure it's a safe place to be.”

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