Some great news by Robbie – Wheel Simple Bicycle Repair has crossed its first year of business! Robbie sent this out below:
1 Year Open!
I’m writing this on the morning of January 8th. This time on this day a year ago, I was hugging my parents and sisters as they were getting ready to fly home, and hopping on my bike to head over to my new shop to turn on the “open” sign for the first day. Here’s what this year had in store for me, and what we can all look forward to and work toward.
Closing and opening
Between Christmas of 2019 and January 8th, 2020, neither Cyclus nor Wheel Simple were open. By day I was moving things over by bike trailer load, cleaning, selling things like crazy to slow the accumulation of debt, and trying to paint the new shop and get set up.
By night I washed dishes at Commercial Taphouse. I actually continued with that gig for months until news of the Coronavirus reaching the U.S. became too eerily similar to the audible recording of “The Stand” I listened to on my dish shifts, lol.
My parents came to help, along with my sisters. My friends all showed up to support me in a hundred different ways, sometimes just feeding me to make sure I didn’t starve myself working 12 hours days. Customers all came by in the interim to offer help and keep me optimistic and feeling wanted.
Somehow, someway, with 3k in liabilities from the old shop, no money, and hungry, I turned my open sign on one year ago today.
Today though…I have no debt and need no second job.
It’s surreal to be in a position to say that when so many people cannot. This year has been an absolute hellscape for all of us, but especially those facing housing insecurity and eviction due to job loss in this pandemic. The myriad failures of a socio-economic safety net captured and pilfered dry by capitalist ideologues, as well as some kind of weird, almost cultural, disregard for human life that has helped kick start the massive case spikes in the region have led to so much pain and death in the region.
I have put my dollars where I could to help people in these awful times and tried to be supportive to those in need, but I am nonetheless greatly aware that it’s not enough and acknowledge the immense privilege I enjoy both in my life and in this year specifically. So while I run through the successes of the shop this year, know that it isn’t without a sense of irony that I reflect upon it.
The Numbers 2020
-840 piecemeal repairs
-47 wheelsets built
-$82,391 Net sales
-$2,500 redistributed through Tune Up Fund
-14 tubs of bearing grease
-25 gallons of degreaser
This year I learned how to hire, train, and pay staff, manage a waitlist, adapt, use WordPress and Quickbooks, and somehow, someway survived a crazy debilitating part shortage, thanks, mostly to the patience of my customers!
Now prior to my two solo years at Cyclus, the best year netted around 53k. And those years weren’t in ascending order. My first and second solo years there brought in 62k and 72k respectively, and still didn’t really break even. A bicycle shop in the area CAN be a community anchor, and you’ve all helped me take a really really confident first step toward building that, so thank you! This is very good news for not just me, but cyclists in the area and the community at large! Businesses that stay around for a long time often become vital to the community health of the area.
This season was INSANE. Not just for me. In some ways I’m speaking for all the Richmond shops. The demand was on a level unheard of, and yet, or rather therefore, the supply chain completely collapsed. Bigger shops were better equipped to weather the shortages, but I missed out on close to 10k in sales because I couldn’t stock anything I normally stock past March 20 – we’re talking lights, 26″ tubes, 7 speed freewheels, rim strips, pumps, the list goes on – whilst spending more on staff just to keep the constant flood of new faces at bay while I tried to get through my repair work! The overall rate of burn out was definitely higher than in years past and we ALL worked our butts off! Now is a time of recovery from this year’s effort. It’s a time of planning too! Richmond shops performed great this year and I think I did OK too, the honest mistakes I made not-withstanding. For me, I’ll be hiring and training staff and opening 7 days a week as soo as possible! Faster service, higher capacity, more clients, fewer mistakes! That’s my goal and continued support helps me get there!
So, to build on all this, here’s what I’m trying to do this year:
-Bigger and better Tune Up Fund, with beneficiary testimonials!
-A new program called Bicycle Heart that sources, refurbs, and gives away bicycles to community members in partnership with area non-profit organizations
-A full-time staff (MUCH NEEDED)
-A 7 day/week schedule
-Better member perks
-More shirts and art
-Socially distant bike races
-And the best thing – none of my prices will go up
With your help and support, these steps will be taken one by one to create something truly unique and vibrant as well as productive and community-minded! With all of you, Wheel Simple will be truly awesome.
To stay tuned to the Community Tune up Fund, and not miss the contribution period, please follow me on Instagram to be notified when it’s open! @itswheelsimple instagram.com/itswheelsimple/?hl=en
To read about it go here: itswheelsimple.com/community-tune-up-fund. It appears the google sheet is under maintenance but will be back up soon. I will also be adding the Bicycle Heart info there once the program is ready to pilot, so stay tuned.
To peruse shop shirts, @rasich_art shirts, stickers, gift certificates, Shop logo wheels, or pay for kitchen knife sharpening (didn’t expect that, did ya?), start here itswheelsimple.com/shop
Peace & love, kids!
Here’s a picture I took this Summer when it was warm of a little babee bee at Scuffletown Park.