ST. LOUIS — Drive through the normally bustling Central West End, and you’ll see taped-up signs on almost every business.
"We decided to go ahead and close the doors,” Bob Koplar said.
Koplar owns the cycle studio Steel Wheels. He made the call Monday, not knowing what it meant for his business or his customers.
"I think about it every day,” he said.
The loss is more than financial.
"Cycling can be so therapeutic, and now more than ever people need to have physical activity for their mental and physical well-being,” he said.
So, Koplar threw out an idea.
"People are cooped up at home and they need something to do,” he said.
He sent an email to his customers, offering his studio bikes for rental. For $40 a week, customers could take a bike home and have access to every theme workout online.
The rental is weekly, and customers can return the bikes anytime.
"Literally within 15 minutes we were sold out,” he said.
The studio is now nearly empty. It's unexpected income Koplar said will help offset his expenses and make a difference for his employees.
"We just want to provide for our employees as long as we can,” he said.
He said he committed to paying them for two weeks while they can’t teach classes.
“We hope we can do so for longer. We hope to be open in two weeks, but we're realistic about the uncertainty of it,” he said.
And like many small business owners, he's getting creative to make it work.
"Our motto here is keep going, and this was kind of our way of keeping going,” he said.
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