Harder hit by priority restrictions than most other stores in the Square, the Bicycle Exchange, at a time when the demand for its commodity has increased fivefold, must now limit its business because materials essential for bicycle production are needed in defense industries.
In January, which is usually the slack month of the year, the shop was able to sell as many bikes as had been sold in the preceding six months, but now very few new machines can be obtained to replenish the stock as it is depleted.
No English Bikes
There are no longer any English cycles available, and the supply of second-hand machines is being exhausted much faster than it can be replenished. Although the store has plenty of parts for broken bicycles, the tire situation is bad. There is still a large supply of tires on hand, but they are mostly in odd sizes not required by customers.
"I think it's going to be a hand-to-mouth arrangement," said Ben Olken, proprietor of the shop.
"Any time the government has some steel to spare, the bike industry will get it."
There has been some talk about a victory bike to be made from scrap materials, with as few superfluous gadgets is possible, but nothing definite has been settled in this matter. If this new type of machine is manufactured, it will probably lack fenders, stands, and chrome finish.
One feature of the situation that Olkes could not explain is the fact that women's bicycles at present are twice as much in demand as men's.
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