Joe Mamma Cycles owner Jose Bray sanitizes a bike before repairs. Ottawa, ON. April 6, 2020. (Tyler Fleming / CTV News Ottawa)

The list of essential services in Ontario is shrinking during the COVID-19 pandemic and the few local businesses that do remain open need your support.

The City of Ottawa has launched a campaign to ask residents to buy local.

It’s another usual day at Joe Mamma Cycles on Bank Street.  The shop is open, only for customers that have made appointments to drop their bike off for repair or for those picking up an on-line order.

“It’s different we’re not as busy as we normally are at this time of year,” says Jose Bray, owner of Joe Mamma Cycles. “As a business owner we’re always changing and adapting to different obstacles, this one just happens to be a lot bigger than what we’re used to”

The normally well organized store-front, lined with the year’s newest and top models of BMX, kids and commuter bikes are pushed aside, a rack in the centre, where Bray disinfects the bikes that come in, and go out. He’s now working alone, the space, too small to keep the required physical distancing.

“We’re doing what we have to to get through this.”

Bray spends his days repairing and tuning bikes, business is steady enough, any downtime is spent on the web, taking orders for parts and bikes, chatting with customers who have questions, making sure they get the right product. When the doors close at the end of the day, he’s getting in the car, to make deliveries at no charge.

They’re long days, and like many small businesses, he’s doing what he has to, to pay the bills.

The City of Ottawa has launched a campaign asking residents to support the local business community to keep them vibrant and resilient.  Working with local business associations, they have provided a few suggestions:

  • Whenever possible, buy locally
  • Order from local businesses online
  • Purchase gift certificates now to use later
  • Order meals for takeout or delivery
  • Send messages of support on social media

Knocking on the door at her scheduled time, Alison Morris has arrived with her 4-year-old son Brarin to pick up his sky-blue Norco bike, his first two-wheeler. 

“He’s handling it in a good way,” said Morris. “That just the online store is open and we’re only in here to pickup.”

Morris is a regular customer, and she’s there to support her local bike shop.  Her and Bray have a brief chat from across the store and she thanks him and leaves. Bray goes back to the rack and starts tuning up more bikes.

“It means a lot, it means at the end of the month I’ll be able to pay my mortgage.”

For seventeen years, Bray has served this community, and is passionate about what he does. The response from his customers amplifies the fact that he is an important piece if the neighbourhood. 

Bray’s grateful, and glad he says, to be able to help people get out and move around the city in a safe manner.