I was at a job interview in Cleveland this week for a professor position at Cleveland State University. The first thing Yumi and I did was to get a rental bicycle for her as I had my new folding bicycle with me. Cleveland has a 12 year old bicycle co-op and they rented bicycles. So that was definitely the place to go. Jim Sheehan responded to my email and said he'd have a rental bicycle ready for us. We walked a couple miles from the hotel to get down to the river bottom where their shop is. The shop was in an old manufacturing plant and was huge. Jim unfortunately didn't have much time to talk with me but here are a few things I picked up:
- They serve 20,000 people a year.
- The rent for their huge space (really huge!) is only about $2k. Although it is subsidized by a generous landlord, Jim.
- They focus on educational outreach in the wider communities. For example, the drive a truck out to a park or school with tons of bike parts and fix as many kids bikes as they can.
- They have regular retail sales and charge a lot for fully complete bikes $175-$300 seems like the price range. Retail seems like their main in-shop deal.
- They seem to fix bikes for you rather than you fix them yourselves. Most every bicycle I saw in the shop was in near pristine order. There were no sign of department store bicycles either. They had some bare frames that were available but they were $100+ too! They did advertise DIY repair, but it didn't seem the focus.
- They pay 3 or so full time employees.
- They log their sales and volunteer hours extensively and keep track of all the stats to use in grant proposals.
I've been complaining about our rising prices at Bike Forth here in Davis lately but our bikes still don't top $150, with most below $90. Maybe we should raise our prices. It could allow us to hire a part time person to do all the things that we barely get done like non-profit paper work, business license, accounting, etc. I'm worried that the collective here may not be sustainable in its current form. We are about 8 years old now, seem to be stagnating a bit, and it may be time to make some change to ensure the future stability of the organization.
Check out the photos I took below:
|Ohio City Bicycle Co-op|