Support Your Park Part 1: The Wheel Mill

BeatriceMarch 19, 2020

There have been so many changes to our day to day lives since Covid-19 hit North America. From the changing group numbers, countless recreational facilities being closed and even our borders between Canada and the USA being shut down, it’s hard to keep up. All of our businesses are hurting and as we attempt to flatten the curve while moving into more mild weather,  it’s important to remember that in our community, our indoor bike parks are taking a huge beating right now. Even once we’re fine to come out from hiding, the parks that we turn to during the winter months, typically struggle into the summer even without an outbreak.

In support of the parks that give us sanity during the cold winter months, I reached out to several park owners and asked how they were doing during these unexpected closures. I don’t believe people realize how much this is hurting our indoor parks, considering this is the time they’re looking to bank as much as possible before numbers dip in the summer. I also wanted to outline ways you can help your local park, may that be buying a pass online to use in the future, or maybe buying products that they have in stock.

Today I’m introducing to you Part 1: The Wheel Mill, but follow this link for when all the interviews come out. #SupportYourPark

6815 Hamilton Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15208, United States
Represented by Owner Harry Geyer & General Manager Michael Potocnzy

 

How did The Wheel Mill come to be, its history, significance, etc?

The Wheel Mill: The idea for the park came about 13 years ago on the ride home from my first trip to Ray’s. After 5 years of trying to get a lease on a space, my then-current business landlord told me about this location. Not long after, Mike Halahan (Next Generation Jam) introduced me to the Potoczny brothers, and the rest is history!

With the changing landscape, you eventually had to shut down the park due to the new guidelines. As an owner, what’s going through your mind right now and how is your team?

The Wheel Mill:  The team is good. Everyone has different concerns, whether that’s at-risk family, or financial. I wish we knew how long we were really going to be shut down so that we could make a better plan. The two-week plan is radically different than the six-month plan, and I can’t help our staff plan if I can’t plan. I have a feeling that it’s going to be much longer than they are saying, so I’m erring on that side. Luckily, PA office of unemployment compensation is allowing workers to file for Corona related unemployment, and I’ve passed that along to the staff.

Financially, this must be a huge hit for you. In a normal year when there isn’t a pandemic, I assume this is like, crunch time right? You’re probably looking to bank as much as possible before attendance declines in the summer. If you can share any facts or figures, please paint us a picture to illustrate the severity of the situation – or maybe you’re doing ok?

The Wheel Mill:  The picture is bad. If bike parks made decent money there would be more of them, so we never have much in the bank. I’m probably digging a $70,000 hole every month that we are closed. The other part of the financial problem is, the only money available from anywhere is a loan, which needs to be paid back. It would be like getting paid unemployment and then having to magically make enough money to pay it all back at the same job you just had to leave. After 7 years, I almost got us out of the financial hole that I dug to get this thing off the ground, so I’m not in a big hurry to dig another big hole and climb in.

Currently is there any support from the government as a small business owner, maybe within your city or even your landlord?

The Wheel Mill:  The Small Business Administration local chapter is allowing us to apply for up to $15k, 0%interest, with a 3.5 yr repayment schedule. Any little bit helps (or hurts?). Our landlord has a big company with lots of employees and their families that need to get paid as well, so there is only so much that I can ask of them.

Photo By Murphy Moschetta

How can we support you right now? 

The Wheel Mill:  Right now you can buy gift cards on thewheelmill.com/support-the-park.

(On Renting the Park) It’s a tough balance to follow the guidelines of social distancing and max 10 people gathering, and have any part of the park open to the public. Also, we need to generate enough revenue from whatever we do, to justify the staffing. You can email info@thewheelmill.com if you are interested in renting out the park privately with a party of 10 or fewer.

We are constantly brainstorming ideas and will put them up against the health regulations and public sentiment and see what we can come up with. What you are doing is helping! And yes, please come ride the park when it is safe to do so.

Please support your park by sharing this article, and buy a gift card if you can.
Shred when they open, even if it’s warm out.
#SupportYourPark

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Support Your Park Part 2: The Yard