Chris Bierton: At first, we were a bit detached from it, and I guess we thought “this won’t hit Aus”. But obviously we were very wrong. It was mid March 2020 that we kinda had our “oh shit” moment - visits dropped 80% almost overnight, and then a week later the government shut us all down completely.
Did you take any action from the start or were you thinking this would be over in a few weeks?
Chris Bierton: We took action straight away - contacted all our customers to tell them what was happening (but always making sure they knew we’d be back). We also called all our suppliers, landlord, etc and basically had to get everything put on hold. We had no idea how long it would last, so we had to plan for the worst.
Now, being in this situation for many months, how did you manage to keep your business rolling?
Chris Bierton: The lockdown in Aus lasted 3 months initially, then we reopened for two weeks, before Victoria went back into lockdown with a 2nd wave, that lasted another 4 months from then. So while closed, we did our best to stay in touch with our customers, posting regularly, running social media video comps (best driveway trick etc), and really pushed our online store to keep some sales going. That was a bit of a pivot for us because online retail wasn’t really our priority.
The supply chain has also suffered. Has it been a challenge getting the bikes/product in stock that you needed for your customers?
Chris Bierton: Yeah - getting complete bikes was tough, having to get onto every preorder super fast to secure stock. The worst thing has been skateboards though - at one point, I don’t think there was a single complete board left in Aus with any supplier. We’ve put in orders already for X-mas 2021 - that’s crazy!
Have you been able to keep your shop open all this time?
Chris Bierton: The shop has stayed open for online orders, but the park was closed for 7months total in 2020. And for about 2months, we were open with pretty severe restrictions.
If so, what are measures you had to take to keep the door open?
Chris Bierton: When we reopened, we could only have 20 riders at once - which is crazy for a 1200square meter building. Mask wearing has been an on / off thing since November, and we have to send the govt a “Covid Safe” plan to stay open.
During the pandemic has it been difficult to organize local events to support the local scene and get the customers in the shop?
Chris Bierton: Yeah, way more hoops to jump through for everything. Govt rules about running events and large gatherings. But it’s getting better now.
What mouth masks do you sell?
Chris Bierton: We don’t actually. We were closed when everyone had to get masks, so we looked at doing custom printed ones, but it was crazy expensive (anyone making masks made a killing!)
What are the plans for the shop for the coming months?
Chris Bierton: We’re back open now, and things seem to be going pretty well in Aus. We’re on top of the virus for the most part, so trying to just run the events we can and be as normal as possible.
Chris Bierton: all our customers! The support from them has been unreal - they all rushed back as soon as we reopened. It was amazing to have that support. And our staff - who worked all the way through the lockdown, renovating and improving the shop, so when we reopened, it looked better than ever!
Your website: Rampfest.com.au