How Elite Bicycle is keeping Tyler rolling through the coronavirus

Aristeo Rodriguez calls himself an analog guy. When I called to ask about an interview, he was too busy for a conversation. “Why don’t you just drop by?” he suggested. “We’re letting customers in one at a time.” When I arrived, I waited in a line stretched along the sidewalk and into the parking lot.

During my half hour wait, I overheard Aristeo with a customer looking to purchase a bike. He spoke with energy and passion about her options and what she could expect. Then, my turn came. The three minutes inside the shop were worth coming in person. Aristeo values face-to-face interaction and gave me his full attention.

Elite Bicycle was among the essential businesses permitted to stay open during the state quarantine. While many businesses are struggling to stay alive, Elite Bicycle is struggling to meet its high demand. Business began booming in mid-March and hasn’t stopped to date.

During his interview, Aristeo repeated the values he and his colleagues hold dear: being a close-knit, nonhierarchical, small business that loves spending time with the community out of doors and on their bikes.

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Jane Neal is the executive director of The Tyler Loop and storytelling director of Out of the Loop: True Stories about Tyler and East Texas. In addition to the Loop, she works at the Literacy Council of Tyler and attends Sam Houston State University remotely, where she studies sociology. Jane is a certified interfaith spiritual guide. She is a member of Leadership Tyler Class 33 and a former teacher of French at Robert E. Lee High School, where she ran a storytelling program called Senior Stories. Jane and her husband Don have four children.