When Mt. A graduate Tobias Paul decided to bike from Toronto to Winnipeg, out of necessity he learned how to tune-up bikes on the side of the road. He taught himself enough to begin fixing bikes in the Sackville Farmers’ Market in May of this year, and Barnyard Bicycles was born.
When he moved back to Sackville after graduating in 2016, Paul noticed that the only bike shops nearby were in either Moncton or Amherst. He was certain that he was not the only Sackville citizen in need of a tune-up. When COVID-19 limited inter-provincial travel, Paul solved this problem himself.. His Saturday check-ups-by-donation quickly grew out of his shed into the current storefront at 65 Main Street. The open concept space made for easy social distancing and allowed most transactions to take place outside, something Paul is very grateful for.
Since the pandemic began, many small businesses have been forced to close, but the Government of New Brunswick has been very encouraging and supportive of new businesses. Paul credits support from both the government and various private parties to the success of Barnyard Bicycles. He is passionate about his work but also said, “There’s a lot more to running a bike shop than repairing bikes.” Changing COVID restrictions and the trials and tribulations of starting a new business have created quite the learning opportunity for Paul, who just wants people to be “happy on their machines.”
In the future, Paul hopes to expand to 25 Lorne Street to establish a more permanent community workshop for the long-term, where he can teach classes and rent out tools for people to work on their own bikes. He hopes to build a bicycling community in Sackville and help people feel “confident, self-sufficient, and empowered” with these new skills.
Paul sees the opportunity for a lot of community collaboration in future. He hopes to work with local schools to run an after-school program, teaching young students how to repair bicycles. This past summer, he worked closely with Hannah Ehler, the MASU VP External Affairs, and was the official partner of the MASU Bike Co-op. He plans on continuing with this collaboration.
Paul also wishes to engage community members and students alike by holding events and races. On August 8, he held his first “Sackville Alley Cat” race. He hopes to hold fun activities to engage students as well as more traditional races for more serious riders.
Paul also wants to start a storage service for students’ bikes over the winter, which he believes will be especially useful for those living off campus who want to keep their bikes away from the slush and snow.
Paul stressed the importance of his goal for community engagement, and “how much I want people to ride bikes.” With his passion for biking and creating a biking community for both Sackville residents and students, he aims to provide a friendly, welcoming, and enthusiastic ambience at Barnyard Bicycles.
Barnyard Bicycles is located at 65 Main Street, operating from Monday to Thursday between 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., and every Saturday at the Farmers’ Market. Keep an eye out on the Barnyard Bicycles Facebook page for more information!