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.

Changes: Hiring Our First Executive Director

By Kristin Kinnamon, Board President

I was around when Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop was established in 2002, watching Ron and Kristi offer free bike repairs at the Everett Gospel Mission once a month. I saw the first board president’s garage fill with bikes and parts, and watched our first earn-a-bike kid joyfully ride his new wheels (that he’d fixed himself) down the alley.

We’ve moved to our own shop and a different alley since then, and had many other changes as a nonprofit. But we have remained committed to serving a diverse clientele of people who use and love bicycles.

Just three years ago, we hired our first paid staff. That has helped to triple our revenue. But growth has also increased the complexity and responsibilities of our nonprofit.

After a year-long organizational review, the Sharing Wheels Board of Directors has decided we need more professional leadership than our volunteer board can provide.

It’s time to hire our first ever executive director. The board seeks to hire someone who can implement our new strategic plan, by developing the people (staff and volunteers), place (bike shop), programs (such as classes and work-trade) and procedures that will make us a more effective, mission-driven organization.

Here’s the official executive director job post.

The position is part-time because that’s what we can afford. But even so, we believe we can attract someone who wants to make a difference, either early in their career, or as they wind down professional work. The director will be assisted by our shop staff , along with volunteers and a very dedicated board.

Hiring our first executive director is a leap of faith – we can’t fully fund the position with current revenue. But we believe the position is sustainable in the long-term, once we get programs and partnerships established. Meanwhile, we are counting on grants and donations from individual supporters – like the people reading this blog post (you!)

We also need your help spreading the word about this unique job opportunity. The perfect candidate is not necessarily a bike nut or mechanic.  They just need to care about sustainable transportation, serving diverse people in need, and partnering with a nonprofit board.

This post is Part 1 of 3 about changes at Sharing Wheels. Part 2 is about our mission. Part 3 is about our shop space.