Changes: Reorganizing the Shop

By Kristin Kinnamon, Board President

At Sharing Wheels, we love bikes. That goes without saying, right? To us, even some old Schwinn clunker that weighs 30 pounds, with a few weeds still growing through its wheels, still deserves a good home.

So it’s an occupational hazard for us to accumulate more bikes, and parts of bikes, than we can manage. We’ve been in our current shop location for almost 15 years. That’s a lot of time to collect an abundance of bike-related goodies from generous donors. We have corners crowded with hopeful tools and tidbits, 16 bike pumps (some work), old-school bike accessories, and so many beautiful (in our eyes) bikes (many waiting for repair).

For the past year, the Sharing Wheels Board of Directors has been thoughtfully reviewing our operations and our mission – what it is we aim to do in the world as a nonprofit. We’ve come to realize that Sharing Wheels is as much about people as it is about bikes.

But there’s not much room for people in our current shop.

The board has also reaffirmed that we are in the business of moving bikes – repairing them, selling them, passing them on. Storing bikes – until we have time to fix them, waiting for the perfect customer, while we wait to find that special part – is not part of our mission.

Keeping People and Bikes Moving: Empowerment, Affordability, Sustainability, and Education

Sharing Wheels Mission

Right now, it’s hard to move through our shop. It can be even harder to find room to work on a bike – yours or ours. As we get back into teaching classes, where can students sit, or stand?

In August we took the first steps to clean out some of our excess bikes and parts. This month, we’ll be taking even bigger steps to ensure that our shop serves all parts of our mission. We’ll be rearranging, taking apart, hanging up, putting on display, labelling. This reorganization is so important that we’ll be closing the shop for the week of Sept. 23-29.

Our preliminary goals include:

  • Room for more work stands – so volunteers and customers can work on bikes
  • Better bike display – to show off what’s for sale
  • Easier to find and access parts
  • More basic tools, more organized

You might remember a similar shop reorganization effort that took place about two years ago. It made a big difference, for awhile. Then that bike love thing kicked in. of course.

Attention to shop organization needs to be ongoing. It’s one reason we are hiring an executive director.  We intend to set aside space and set up processes to keep both bikes and people moving – in our shop, and in the community.

If you have thoughts about how we could better manage space for people and bikes in our current shop, please contact me: bikenbus@gmail.com

This post is Part 3 of 3 blogs about changes at Sharing Wheels. Part 1 is about hiring our first executive director. Part 2 is about our mission.

Support Your Local Teenager: Us

There are more than 1.4 million nonprofit organizations in the U.S. Starting a nonprofit is relatively easy: see a need in your community, round up some dedicated volunteers, file the paperwork.

When Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop started in 2002, we were the only nonprofit bike shop in Snohomish County, committed to “connecting unused bikes to people who need wheels.”

We still serve that unique need. As a teenaged organization, we have matured in so many ways, but still need to grow up in others. One way we need to grow is in community support.

Donations from individuals like you are essential for the future of Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop.  Whether you give $25 or $250, your contribution demonstrates that the community supports our shop and our mission.

Of course, our bike shop is full of bikes and parts donated by community supporters – probably too full, but loving bikes is an occupational hazard for us. Luckily, bike sales have tripled in recent years – some customers come in to find a special bike and to support our mission, while other customers are the mission:

  • The 125 low income kids who will take a bike home for Christmas this month
  • Sally, who worked her way out of homelessness by using her bike to get to work at odd hours when buses don’t run;
  • Matt, the recovering addict who needed to fix his flat tire so he could ride to treatment
  • Jesse, who got a “new-to-him” road bike from Sharing Wheels and has lost 60 pounds riding everywhere with his caregiver

We know many customers by name because as a community bike shop, we don’t just sell bikes. We see people again and again. You drop by to borrow our tools, get a used part, or when to volunteer and pay forward the help we have given you.

Many of our services are free, but our rent, insurance, taxes, and staff are not. As we’ve grown, so has the cost and complexity of doing business.

Many nonprofits don’t make it to age 16. We are determined to keep serving the greater Everett area into adulthood. In 2019 we’ll be adopting a business plan and looking to expand our bike programs and partnerships. Your donation will help us grow up.