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Apollo Cycles in downtown Norwich closes, citing COVID-19 supply problems

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Norwich — Another paradox of the coronavirus has claimed a vibrant downtown Norwich business, with the announcement Friday that Apollo Cycles is closing immediately because of a national shortage of new bicycles to sell and parts for the shop’s booming repair business.

Owner Apollo Ziembroski announced in a news release issued by the Norwich Community Development Corp. Friday that he will close the shop at 48 Franklin St. immediately and file for bankruptcy due to the coronavirus. With COVID-19 restrictions prompting a renewed interest in cycling and outdoor activities, Ziembroski was unable to obtain new bicycles to sell to eager customers and also could not get critical parts or repairs.

“Sales of new bicycles were about one third of our business, and that has completely vanished,” Ziembroski said in the release. “My vendors are telling me that we are several months away from any new inventory, and it is more likely March of 2021. I can’t pay my bills if I have nothing to sell.”

Apollo Cycles moved to downtown Norwich in August 2019 after three years in Danielson. The shop is in the Sunlight Emporium retail portion of the Foundry 66 business complex run by NCDC on Franklin Street. In addition to the shop operation, Ziembroski coordinated noncompetitive bicycle rides through Norwich and surrounding towns from the shop and participated in downtown events.

“It is unfortunate to lose Apollo and his shop,” Jason Vincent, president of NCDC, said in the news release. “Apollo’s presence brought a lot of excitement into the neighborhood, and people really enjoyed working and talking to him. The guy knows bikes. It is not surprising to hear that he is struggling, as we have heard that inventory is challenging to come by in a number of sectors, especially anything involving outdoor sports.”

Vincent said national news stories started to appear in May that a boom in bicycle sales was being countered by a lack of supply chain for new bikes and parts. Ziembroski said he tried to adjust prices on labor to cover expenses while new sales proved impossible, but repairs also proved impossible.

“We tried to adjust prices on our labor, but you can’t charge people to fix a bicycle when you can’t purchase the chain to begin with,” Ziembroski said in the release. “It really stinks to be in this predicament.”

Mayor Peter Nystrom on Friday evening called it “heartbreaking” that Ziembroski is forced to close his business through no fault of his own. He said the loss reflects the national problem of lack of manufacturing, which has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vincent said Foundry 66 immediately will seek a new retail tenant for the now-vacant 1,000-square-foot space.

“We will do our best to try to attract a new retailer to the space,” Vincent said. “The Sunlight Emporium retail space was at 100% occupancy, and we know that there is demand for this place.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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