Former Outpost Sports in Mishawaka reopens as Outpost Bikes
MISHAWAKA, Ind.—Since 1974, Outpost Sports has sold recreational sporting equipment to Michiana's active community.
In March, Outpost Sport’s location off of Grape Road closed down after a lengthy liquidation sale.
On April 23, the owners held a soft opening of their new iteration of the business, a pivot they made to focus on what they believe is their greatest strength: selling bikes.
“Our whole goal has always been to get people outside and to get fresh air,” owner J.V. Peacock said Wednesday. “We’ve refocused our emphasis and it’s strictly bikes now.”
Gone are the kayaks and sporty apparel but the sales floor is now full of bikes ranging from mountain bikes to electric bikes.
"We've sold bikes since 1978 so we do know how to sell bikes. We know how to find the precise bike for customers' needs," Peacock said. "We're all cyclists ourselves."
Biking accessories now cover much of the store’s wall space and the long list includes items like helmets and tail lights.
Re-opening the longtime business during the COVID-19 pandemic has not come without challenges for the owners.
“The initial plan was to reopen on April 15 but when the virus hit, I laid everyone off and everyone came back to work a week ago,” Peacock said, adding that his staff is one of his very favorite parts of the business.
Thanks to a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides emergency funding to small businesses, J.V. was able to bring his staff back to work and reopen both the store and bike service center.
“We’re all just happy to be back,” Peacock said.
As an essential business, bike shops both locally and nationally have been hit with inventory issues as the pandemic halts production of some items and warehouses close their doors.
Peacock said that because the store closed down for about a month, they were able to avoid current inventory issues but noted that his suppliers have warned him that shortages may occur later.
“Right now, we’re selling a lot of bikes to kids and parents,” Peacock said. “People really want to get outside.”
Customers who physically go into the store are greeted with a COVID-19 safety station stacked with optional face masks and hand sanitizer.
“We have bought hundreds of masks, hundreds of gloves, and gallons of sanitizer so we’re prepared and we want the customer to feel comfortable when they come in here. If they want to wear a mask, it’s there,” Peacock said. “Half of the people do come in with a mask on.”
Once restrictions related to the pandemic ease, Outpost Bikes will bring back its Tuesday night bike rides and sand volleyball league, but Peacock said the business will make a slow return to those activities in order to keep community members safe.
Outpost Bikes is located at 3602 N. Grape Road in Mishawaka. Its hours of operation during the pandemic are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.