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Bay Area Nonprofit Shop to Open Oct. 2

Published September 26, 2011

RICHMOND, CA (BRAIN) — Spokeshop Bike Lounge, a nonprofit community bike shop and gathering place for cyclists in the Bay Area city of Richmond, California, will hold its grand opening and fundraiser Oct. 2.

The shop is spearheaded by Brian Drayton, whose Richmond Spokes organization is aimed at empowering, engaging and employing youth through cycling and green industries that benefit local communities. “It’s not just a bike shop; it’s going to be the hub for a movement,” he said.

“I started Spokes to invigorate a new cycling culture in Richmond, and more so to create mobility for the community,” added Drayton, who noted that Richmond, a city of 120,000, has not had a bike shop for nearly 10 years.

The 1,400-square-foot shop is four blocks from a transit center and close to City Hall and the local federal building. It will deal in used bicycles and repairs and will also house an eBay bike business, silk-screening studio, youth internship and entrepreneurial program, lounge with coffee and fruit from a local organic garden, and iPad educational kiosks with information about how bikes work and how they’re built.

Drayton said he will keep no more than 15 bikes on the shop floor at any time to ensure that Spokeshop remains a comfortable, welcoming gathering place.

“We’re also going to be launching a program called Family Bike Collaborative,” he said. “Families can donate a clean, working bike or pay $100 to become a member, and when their kid outgrows their bike, they can swap it in for 20 bucks for the next size up. If it’s a teenager it’s a bit more, since adult bikes take a bit more maintenance.”

Drayton noted that he is talks with a major bike manufacturer about donating a back stock of bikes and that Spokeshop also has a consignment agreement with the Richmond Police Department for impounded and donated bikes. “I think a lot of them come from Target. They don’t have mechanics to put these bikes together, and when a pedal falls off and someone brings a bike back, by law they can’t fix it. So they then donate these bikes that have been used for maybe a week.”

As the grand opening approaches, Spokeshop is still seeking donations of bikes, point-of-sale software, tools, bike swag, books, gear and volunteer time.

Drayton said he’s also looking to establish new Spokes initiatives in other cities, with efforts already under way in Atlanta, Georgia; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Los Angeles, California. “There could be a Spokes near you,” he said. “If someone is interested in starting a Spokes, we want to replicate this model.”

For more information on Richmond Spokes and Spokeshop Lounge, click on the link above.

(PHOTO: Murals inside Spokeshop Bike Lounge in Richmond, California.)

—Toby Hill

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