Ed. Note: Our Bicycles Are Business series profiles businesses which incorporate bicycles into their services, or cater to customers or employees arriving by bicycle. We are profiling these businesses and why, for them, bicycles make for good business. If bicycles are integral to your business, let us know by contacting Max.
For busy city-dwelling pet owners, procuring food, treats and toys for four-legged companions is sometimes by necessity lumped in with the weekly grocery shopping. This can lead to compromising through the smaller selections and lower-quality options grocery stores tend to carry. This problem was the impetus for the launch of BONeJOUR Pet Supply on N. 3rd St in Old City, a source of high-quality and holistic pet products for Philly owners. And it was a natural extension of this business plan to deliver the leashes, toys, and healthy food and treats directly to customers’ doors.
BONeJOUR has offered bicycle delivery of its products from the moment it opened its doors in 2001. At first the original owners used messenger services like Time Cycle for deliveries. However when Noe Bunnell, a part-time employee, secured a loan and took over as sole proprietor in 2009, she decided to take on the brunt of the deliveries herself. BONeJOUR may not be large enough to make a vast team of delivery cycles sensible, but armed with a huge R.E.Load backpack1 and a handlebar basket, there are few orders that she and her employees can’t tackle. R.E.Load even customized the backpack with a portrait of one of her own dogs, Ramona, on the front.
For Noe, bikes are a practical and economical solution. “Since our delivery area is so urban, it is really more convenient and efficient to deliver on bicycle rather than car … [And] we try to be the kind of business that cares about issues such as sustainability, so bikes just make sense,” she says.
Noe also values the time, money, and frustration she saves by bicycling to work. “I love being able to bike to work. I do it year-round, and many of our employees do too,” she says. “Parking in Old City is either a major hassle or a major expense, so biking to work is emotionally and financially sensible. Rather than spending $20 at a parking lot (or $36+ on a PPA ticket!), or driving around and around to find a free parking spot, I get to leave my house 20 minutes before I need to be [at work], enjoy a leisurely ride, and lock up right next to the door of my shop!”
And while biking to work is economically beneficial, efficient, and avoids the parking hassle, Noe attests that it’s also great exercise and provides a considerable mood boost in the mornings. “[It’s] sometimes the only time I get to enjoy the sunshine, and having a bit of exercise in the morning really helps my mood. I leave my house half-asleep and grumpy, but by the time I get [to work] I’m awake and excited to see all my favorite neighborhood pups!”
Despite bicycling’s central role in her life, there was a time in the not-so-distant past when Noe almost gave up cycling for good. In 2011 she was badly injured when a careless motorist ran into her while she was on a long bike ride around Oahu Island in her native Hawaii. She suffered a sprained ankle, a concussion, and her left elbow went through the car window, requiring emergency surgery. Noe was unable to ride while she healed, but even afterward, she was afraid to get back on her bike for a time. Eventually, the many benefits coaxed her into it. “If it wasn’t for the inconvenience of doing deliveries by car and driving to work in traffic/parking in the city, I may not have ever started riding again. Doing a few bike deliveries helped me remember how much I love riding, and how biking is so much easier, convenient and fun than driving a car.”
Noe isn’t the only fan of her return to bicycling. “My dogs love going on bike rides to the park … [They’re both] trained to sit in a milk crate tied to a rack, and when I get the milk crate out, they are trying to jump into it before I even get it tied to the bike.” Her dog Ramona in particular loves long rides. “[She’s] ridden in the crate on rides to Valley Forge, and on a few bike-camping trips in New Jersey and PA. It’s so cute to see her riding with a big puppy smile, her fur rustling in the wind and her nose sniffing a mile-a-minute to catch all the good smells passing by.”
As for other small businesses that may be looking to integrate bikes in some way, in Noe’s estimation they just work. The logistics are by no means difficult, whether it be offering delivery, biking to work, providing space for employees who do bike to work, or all of the above. “Being bike-friendly doesn’t have to be a huge difficult thing for a small business – if you never ride to work, try riding one or two days a week. If you want to expand your customer base by offering delivery service but don’t want to deal with the expense/hassle of a company car, think about bikes! If there’s nowhere safe to lock up outside of your business, offer indoor space for employees to store their bikes. There are so many simple little things that small business owners can easily do to make their business more bike friendly, and most of them don’t require any investment, just a change in thinking.”
- Philly-made! ↩