What started in 2008 as an earn-a-bike program at Urban Neighborhood Initiatives
has blossomed into Southwest Rides
, a full service bike and skateboard retail shop with an experienced bicycle mechanic.
Through fundraising efforts, private donations, and a $25,000 grant from the Skillman Foundation, Southwest Rides was able to open a brick-and-mortar location in Southwest Detroit's Springwells neighborhood. Though the shop opened earlier this summer, Southwest Rides is hosting a grand opening celebration
Saturday, August 16. The event is open to the public and will feature food, deals, and prizes.
Through the earn-a-bike program, members of the community complete maintenance courses, eventually taking a bike home after putting in a set amount of hours. Southwest Rides continues to offer the earn-a-bike program.
With the shop opening, the people behind Southwest Rides have expanded their educational programming to include an apprenticeship program. In addition to honing skills as bicycle mechanics, young people also learn business basics, from customer service to shop maintenance.
"There are a lot of components in running a small business," says Isaac Gilman, a board member with Southwest Rides. "This way the youth get practice and then later on they can apply what they've learned. They'll have something under their belts."
Of course, Southwest Rides is a business, too, with normal hours of operation for retail and maintenance. Gilman says that business has been good so far -- the skateboards are particularly popular with the young people in the neighborhood -- and they're hoping the grand opening event will help spread the word to other parts of the city.
The grand opening celebration is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, August 16 at Southwest Rides, located at 1824 Springwells St.
Source: Isaac Gilman, board member of Southwest Rides
Writer: MJ Galbraith
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