Covid-19 hit North America around January, and life has been a weird blur ever since. From the changing group numbers, countless recreational facilities being closed, and even our borders between Canada and the USA still shut down, life has only begun to feel normal again with businesses reopening. As we’re moving into warmer temperatures, finally being able to shop in stores and sit on the patio drinking overpriced ciders, our indoor parks are still taking a huge beating.
In support of the parks that give us sanity during the cold winter months, I reached out to several park owners back in March 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 spring was the time they were 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 for future use, or maybe buying products that they have in stock. Today I am introducing you to the last part of the #SupportYourPark series, Part 8: Joyride 150.
150 Bullock Dr #1, Markham, ON L3P 1W2
Represented by General Manager Dave Thomas
Photos by Tyler Rizzi & Joyride 150
Hey Dave, could you give us a quick introduction to how Joyride 150 came to be, its history, significance, and all that warm fuzzy stuff?
Joyride 150: Joyride 150 is the direct result of the Summers family loving bikes. They all ride and love to share that passion for riding with as many people as possible. The park was founded in 2010 shortly after a family trip to Rays MTB in Cleveland.
There’s never been anything like Joyride in Ontario before, so it’s a pretty unique facility. Since 2010 we’ve done a bit of everything; camps, women’s weekends, local contests, Olympic qualifiers, and everything in between. It’s been a fantastic ride watching people come here and have fun.
With the changing landscape, you eventually had to shut down the park due to the new provincial guidelines. What’s going through your mind right now and how is your team?
Joyride 150: The owners and myself have been watching the news and communicating with our local government weekly if not daily these past few weeks. We closed March 15th just ahead of the official mandate to do so. Closing early is something we felt was the right thing to do for our customers, staff, and overall community. Fast forward nearly three months later and we are still taking things day by day. We’ve brainstormed several ideas on what things could look like “after” this. But we just don’t have all the information we need yet to make plans we can act on. Through the pandemic, our staff has been great. Since some of the restrictions have lifted, we’ve been able to see a few of them, and as you can imagine many have been keeping busy on two wheels. We’ve also had a lot of the local riding community checking up on us, which means a lot right now.
Financially, this must be a huge hit for you. In a normal year when there isn’t a pandemic, I assume Spring 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?
Joyride 150: We had to shut down right before March Break, which is one of our busiest times of the year. An unprecedented situation like this is every facility owner’s worst nightmare. But really the longer it goes on it’s been hard on everyone. Especially with the end being so ambiguous. While this is far from ideal for us, we understand it really is the best choice right now to keep cases down. We just want to do whatever we can to flatten the curve, so things are headed back on the right track. Like everyone else, the longer this goes on, the more of an impact it has on us. However, we’re keeping positive and staying focused on the future. We’ve shifted our focus recently into how we can offer a better facility for our riders when it is time to open the doors again. Hopefully, we’re getting close! March is typically our best month of the year, and April slides in at around third. We were closed for half of March and all of April so it’s been a pretty big impact. These months typically help us through the slower months.
Currently is there any support from the government as a small business owner, maybe within your city or even your landlord?
Joyride 150: Support, during a time like this, only really holds together from the top-down and thankfully the Canadian government has stepped up. We’ve been able to apply and receive all applicable aids. However, there’s no playbook for a pandemic. We’re all just trying to figure it out and in a constant state of change. Right now, it’s all planning coupled with a lot of wait and see. It’s a really strange time for everyone.
Are you guys doing ok with the support of The Boiler Room?
Joyride 150: The Boiler Room has been doing quite well through all this thankfully. People are getting out to ride and we’ve done a lot to improve our online store experience and product selection. Since we can have The Boiler Room open we’ve been open Monday – Saturday 10 am – 6 pm and have been trying to help as many people as possible get bikes, parts, and accessories. We’re very appreciative of the support the community has shown to our retail store.
At this time do you have an idea of what phase Joyride will be in? (As of Today June 22, Toronto has been permitted to move into Phase 2)
Joyride 150: There has not been any official word, which is what a lot of our recent conversations have been about with members of the government. As of right now, indoor recreational facilities are phase 3. However, with so many camps and spaces for people to be active not being available to the public, we’re hoping that might change. People are really looking for places to be active, and we’re a great spot for that.
What will the park be like when we can open? Do you think there’s going to be new rules on like parties or even max occupancy?
Joyride 150: There will certainly be occupancy rules, what those will be, we have no idea. We’re a big facility (over 100 thousand square feet) so we can fit a fair number of socially distanced people. We’ve run through a number of open scenarios (I think we’re at about 5 different options) and we’re just waiting to see which of what we have planned can work within government guidelines. Being a pretty unique business, we don’t really fall into the scope of businesses they’ve been regularly thinking about.
How can we support you right now?
Joyride 150: The biggest support we can ask for right now is that everyone follows the recommendations made by your local health officials. The sooner we flatten the curve the sooner facilities like ours can reopen and we get back to a normal routine. After that, our store The Boiler Room is open online (shoptheboilerroom.com) and in-person Monday to Saturday 10-6. We’re ready to help you as best we can. Everyone tagging us in posts on social media helps keep our spirits high so we encourage a lot of that. We love seeing how people used our park and it helps us think of ways to better improve it. Once our open sign flips back over, we look forward to seeing everyone again. Riders having fun is what keeps us going and we’re looking forward to welcoming back old friends and new ones.