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Mount Airy business Q&A: Mount Airy Bicycle ‘might get busier than we want’

Mount Airy Bicycle, at 4540 Old National Pike, has been a fixture in southern Carroll County at the four-county nexus for 30 years.

Owner Larry Black, a major proponent of cycling in general and bike races for many years, initially feared what the coronavirus pandemic might do to his business. But after he saw how much people craved being outside after even the early days of the quarantine, Black saw business actually begin to boom.

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At the time, he called cycling “a good social distancing exercise,” and noted that his business was up “twofold” by mid-May 2020. We caught up with Black to talk about how Mount Airy Bicycle made it through the pandemic.

Larry Black, owner of Mount Airy Bicycle
Larry Black, owner of Mount Airy Bicycle (Jeffrey F. Bill/Carroll County Times)

When did your business open and what is it most known for?

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We opened in 1991. We are a destination and over half our customers come from out of the immediate market.

Because we cater to special needs, obscure and unusual merchandise, people have visited from across the country, and as far as Canada, Europe and New Zealand.

What role does your business play in your community?

We offer immediate service for local customers, pickups, deliveries, and have hosted special events.

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We support charities with donations of goods, services, and volunteerism.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact your business?

Because we were instrumental in having bicycle stores in Maryland declared essential early on, we experienced a surge in business.

What steps did you take to help your business survive the pandemic? Did you secure state/federal grants?

We opted out of any grants, loans, handouts, free help and charity.

We immediately offered outside curbside service, deliveries, pick ups, at-home service, and took the suggested health department protocols for sanitizing, distancing, barriers, and masking.

As a business owner, what did you learn about yourself, your employees and/or your customers during the pandemic?

We discovered how much the other places fell behind — while many shops were taking several weeks to complete repairs, we continued to offer same-day service to keep people healthy and moving.

Once we began to emerge from the pandemic, what changes made out of necessity did you do away with and what changes worked so well you will continue?

Not much will change — though we have been discovered by so many new people from so many places that we might get busier than we want.

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