Four Industries Bolstered by the Pandemic

Seems like everyone is buying a bike these days.
Seems like everyone is buying a bike these days. Photo by Hector Garcia
With tens of millions out of work and the entire economy reeling from stay-at-home orders and worried shoppers over the last two months, it is difficult to imagine any good news could come from the pandemic. Believe it or not, however, there are businesses that are thriving. Some are not too surprising like delivery services and Amazon, but there are others you may or may not expect.

Home Improvement

"I've been as busy as I can ever remember." A friend and home remodeler was explaining why it had been tough to schedule jobs lately. Being at home has apparently given people time to assess their surroundings and they haven't always liked what they have seen. In addition to getting that tile in the bathroom fixed (finally), there has been a call for all kinds of work around the home.

Home improvement and garden stores are bustling. While toilet paper was the first thing people bought in huge numbers, garden supplies weren't too far down the list. Landscapers, amateur and professional, have taken the time to spruce up the exterior while construction crews are tearing down walls inside.

And for the slightly more affluent, pool services and building have been pacing at a record clip. From full in-ground pools to a crazy run on stock tanks, people stuck at home are willing to shell out some money to have a more comfortable environment.

Virtual Service Providers

In case you have decided to build your own deck or start a garden (who hasn't?), you may need to talk to an expert and consulting services have been booming thanks to quarantines and the new use of video chat services. YouTube is great, but if you need help with a problem, many services are available without an in-person visit.

Virtual support of all types is now readily available online from personal counseling to gardening help to tech support. Sometimes, you need someone to show up and do a job, but for loads of other services, a video chat is the next best thing and it is clear people have been taking advantage.

IT Services

And speaking of support, possibly nothing has been as critical to people working from home as tech support. There's a reason MicroCenter has had lines around the building for months. With people working from home — many for the very first time — setting up computers and video conferencing, typically handled by the IT guy at your office, now falls on your shoulders. And you'll be forgiven if you don't understand the ins and outs of the tech you use every day.

Do you have enough bandwidth from your internet service provider? Is your computer adequate for your job? What additional software do you need? What's a VPN and how do I use whatever the hell it is? Sure, you may make fun of the computer nerds at your office, but now that you are on your own with this stuff, who you gonna call?

Bicycle Sales

On a recent trip to Academy, a fellow shopper at the register said, "Where are all the bikes?" The middle two rows at the back of the store were completely empty. Not a single bicycle to be found. The cashier didn't have an answer, but a quick look online found that everyone has become a cyclist during the pandemic.

It makes sense. People want to get outside, out of the house, and a bike is a great way to get around, get some exercise or just do something different. Judging by the number of cyclists whipping through bayou-side parks on the weekend, there are a lot of you who have taken to it with a vengeance. Just don't stop and then let that thing collect dust or the used cycle market will be the one booming next year
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke