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Popular Grand Marais bike shop closing for good

Bike shops saw a boost from the pandemic, but it left some without access to inventory.

The Fireweed Bike Cooperative in Grand Marais is closing for good at the end of the year. 

"I am sad to tell you that the international shortage of bikes, of equipment, and of labor has stressed me and our little shop to the limit," Fireweed said in a Facebook post on Thursday. "Thus, I will be closing Fireweed Bike Cooperative at the end of this year." 

The owner added, understandably, that "2020 can suck an egg."

Many bike shops across Minnesota – and the world – reported a boom in sales thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, which had people turning to bicycles as something to do outside to escape cabin fever, as an alternative to the gym, and as a way to get around to avoid public transportation. 

In April of this year, bike sales grew 75% year over year and in June they were up 63%, Axios notes.

But that spike in demand has led to a global shortage of bikes, parts and other equipment. The New York Times reported in August that demand was outpacing supply and even Giant, the world's largest bike maker, hasn't been able to keep up. Wired notes it's partly because nearly all bikes sold in the U.S. are imported, with most coming from China, where many factories temporarily closed in the spring due to the pandemic. 

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That has left local, independent bike shops like Fireweed without access to the inventory it needs to keep going. 

"Thank you to all of the people who have supported the shop over the last four years. It was a hell of a trip and I met a lot of amazing people," Fireweed's Facebook post said. "Let's keep riding, OK people?"

The owner says he'll honor all of the repair work that remains and the community programs he has supported. He said he may continue to offer repair services and to-order bikes but that will "remain to be seen."

Meanwhile, there's a lot of inventory left at the bike shop, with the owner calling it a "verifiable s***-ton" that needs to go, so he's willing to "make you a deal" because he wants it "all being used."

The shop will be open likely only on the weekends or by appointment.

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