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Squamish's Corsa Cycles expands to Quest University campus

Bike shop owners talk about finding bikes and parts with a turbulent supply chain.
Corsa copySquamish
The new soon-to-open Corsa location is up at Quest University.

A mainstay of Squamish's biking community is expanding into Quest University.

Corsa Cycles' new location at 205 — 3220 Helfand Way (which sometimes turns up as Village Drive on Google Maps), is due to open within the next week or two. Once a firm opening day is set, the company will announce it on its social media platforms.

Rob Venables, the owner of Corsa, told The Squamish Chief on April 14 that having a location at Quest is ideal, because it's as close as you can get to many popular biking trailheads.

This can be a huge advantage if someone breaks apart or needs a last-minute tune-up.

"You don't have to go all the way back down to the shop [downtown]. You can just roll down, get fixed on the spot, and then [go] right back up to the trails," said Venables.

It will also prove to be a good location for the business's demo and rental bike program. The location makes it easier for people to test out new rides, and rentals can be used as credit toward an eventual purchase.

Venables said he anticipates the clientele will be a mix of locals, students and tourists.

He added that the shop would likely be stocking up on products that people would find handy at the trailhead.

"Nutrition, like Powerade, water bottles, all the things that we think someone might forget on their way, and then not want to have to go all the way back into town," Venables said.

But a new location wasn't the only thing that Corsa's owner had on his mind.

Finding new bike parts and bikes during the pandemic has been challenging for some, but Venables says that isn't the case for all.

"There's a big difference between how some shops reacted to the initial stages of COVID," he said. "And how that's playing out for their supply and demand now."

When the pandemic first hit, there were two factors that came into play, he said.

One was general supply shortages caused by shutdowns of factories. Bike shops in Squamish and around the world couldn't do much about that.

However, one thing that shops did have control of, was whether they would start ordering parts again, or whether they would take a wait-and-see approach.

"Some guys might have reacted to the whole COVID shutting everything down and thinking everything was just gonna get shut down, including their business. And so they cancelled orders," said Venables.

On the other hand, Corsa bet the other way.

"All of our staff are avid cyclists. And so they started turning more and more to bikes, for mental health or physical health, just to stay balanced in tough times, right?" said Venables. "It's a great thing to get out there and get some exercise. And so we just saw it as more of a critical component the further things got down the rabbit hole as far as COVID goes."

As a result, Corsa kept putting in more orders, anticipating an uptick in demand.

And it came.

Since outdoor activities were among the few outlets people had, Corsa kept its place in the ordering queue.

Those who may have cancelled or paused their orders may have been put at the back of the line, which has become backlogged to the point where it's become a big challenge to catch up, Venables said.

One of the co-owners of another bike shop in town also had some insights into the supply chain situation.

"Bikes are coming in, they definitely are, but bit by bit," said Tennessee Mayer, co-owner of Drop Bar Cycles. "And it's honestly [dependent on] the bike that you're waiting for, and the size that you're needing."

She said it's now been a case of looking at timelines and finding ones that suit the customer.

"We really look at options and try and find timelines that suit customers that now have to wait for the perfect bike, which is something that we're not used to," said Mayer.

"In terms of the parts, we have to get creative and rely on different suppliers when needed."

Some people who are particular about a certain kind of bike can be waiting until 2023, but at the same time, some orders are coming in this week, she said on April 14.

"It's so dependent sometimes, on size," said Mayer. "The same bike — a small  — could be available next week. And an extra-large not for months now, because if your model doesn't have a crank arm in the proper length, well, that bike is not going to be finalized in the factory. Then it's not boxed up, let alone shipped across the world."

She added that it's still not clear whether erring on the side of ordering too much is the right strategy for every shop.

"These bills are coming due, right?" said Mayer. "But you know, if the bikes are still not coming in, the money's not coming in order to pay for said bills that eventually come due."

For Corsa, Venables said the strategic gamble has paid off. He said currently, wait times will depend on how fickle the customer is. Those who are extremely particular will likely have to wait to get the exact product they want. However, flexible customers will generally find something in the store that works today. 


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