The pandemic has been a challenging time for everyone, and small businesses have been among the hardest hit. But for one Chandler, Arizona business owner, the global health crisis also presented opportunities for giving back and demonstrating the true meaning of character and sacrifice, and that’s why he’s our Local Business Hero.
Days before the initial lockdown even began back in March 2020, Craig Bernard Feinberg, owner of a CycleBar franchise in Chandler, saw what was coming and was already on the move.
“I was running all over the Valley trying to clean this place,” Feinberg says. “I didn’t want my studio and members to not have this place because I couldn’t figure out how to do this as a business owner.”
But then when the first lockdown orders began on March 16, 2020 Feinberg had to get creative.
“People asked about rentals. So, with the help of my general manager, we put together a weekly bike rental program,” he says. “Members wanted to work out at home. It was helping them, and they were helping us.”
Within a week, the rental program was up and running, and it enabled the studio to stay afloat until they were able to re-open in May.
Like so many other Arizona businesses at the time, CycleBar reopened on May 20 to a world still trying to figure out how to bring back some normalcy — and what that should even look like.
“One of my values in Judaism is love thy neighbor as thyself. I walk the walk. So, when something like this happens, I need to be true to my character and have conversations to see how the team feels; I’m not in it alone,” he says. “People walking in here are extensions of us. If I’m not comfortable, others won’t be.”
So, the studio reduced their bike count to 10 bikes (from an original capacity of 50) and followed strict health and safety guidelines.
“When there are new facts, you have to change with the facts,” Feinberg says. “It was a team effort.”
Then, even more things began to change around them, with the death of George Floyd over Memorial Day weekend and the resulting social justice movement and protests for Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Once again, CycleBar’s team came together to help, hosting charity rides on the weekends with funds going to Black Family and Child Services.
But just as CycleBar was getting back into its groove, the team received notice from the governor that they’d be closing again at the end of June.
“I saw such sadness in our members’ faces. We had done everything right. We’re a good student in a bad class,” Feinberg says.
Back in Lockdown
While the second shutdown was a blow, Feinberg and his team did not accept defeat. They quickly pivoted back to renting their bikes by the month, selling out in a day. They also worked to keep members engaged by emailing them weekly “to say hi” and posting rides they’d recorded on Zoom in advance, so they could deliver a virtual product.
Re-Opening, Take Two
When CycleBar was allowed to re-open again, they were ready.
“The only difference we had to make was to add an air purifier and masks,” Feinberg says.
To better protect its riders, the studio conducts temperature checks and handles booking outside. Showers are closed, no towels are given out and lockers were removed to create more open space. The post-workout fruit they once provided is now pre-wrapped snacks. They re-opened their doors at 25% capacity (12 bikes), with an entrance-only door in the front and riders exiting through the back door.
Through it all, Feinberg credits his members and the support of his team and holds out hope for continued progress.
“The fabric of this place got ripped. You have to learn how to live with that. I hope we’ll be able to be one community again,” he says. “We’ve been fortunate to stand out by doing what we see as right. I’m hopeful that we continue to go in a healthy direction as a nation, state and county.”