Are you in the market for an affordable used bicycle, or do you have one that needs fixing? If so, the Chain Reaction Bike Shop located on the corner of 6th and R Street in Shaw, may be the place for you.
Open since 2001 with the help of a $20,000 grant from LISC, Chain Reaction is part of the nonprofit organization Shaw EcoVillage. Its goal is to support clean, healthy and affordable transportation in Shaw.
The shop employs and trains area youth as young as 11 in bicycle mechanics while teaching valuable lessons in communication, problem solving, and even entrepreneurship. After working at Chain Reaction, three youth mechanics gained employment at Revolution Bikes in Georgetown, and one has become Assistant Manager.
While known by many for its retail shop, Chain Reaction actually does far more than fix and resell bicycles. It has after school programs, a summer camp, bike repair classes for all ages, and an EarnA-Bike Program where youth volunteers work a number of hours in the retail shop, and in return they gain valuable mechanical skills and receive a free bike.
The spillover benefits are clear according to Mike Hill, the Executive Director of Shaw EcoVillage “The area is safer, more people are riding bikes, the corner in particular is safer, and even area businesses have seen growth”.
With a couple hundred bikes in various stages of disrepair, the mechanics are going to be busy in the next few months. “Our biggest challenge by far is keeping up with demand” according to Mike Moskovitz, the store manager.
In just over two years of operation, Chain Reaction Bike Shop has greatly exceeded business goals. Customers come from all over the city, hearing of the store through word of mouth. To date in 2003, they have already hit their revenue and sales goals and plan to use the extra revenue to support their programs.
Chain Reaction is establishing a great track record both as a bike shop and more importantly, as an agent of positive change.