This last winter was a long one for Southwest Rides, and that's a good thing. The southwest Detroit-based low-profit-limited-liability company, also known as L3C, is starting to reap the rewards of a long winter’s nap.
"In the winter time we did a lot of preparation in both our retail and programs," says Isaac Gilman, board member of Southwest Rides
. "We want to provide more value for the neighborhood."
operates a bike/skateboard shop in Springwells Village neighborhood at 1824 Springwells St. The retail spot serves two purposes: It offers bicycles, skateboards, and similar equipment at reasonable prices to local kids, and it provides youth programs focused on teaching inner city kids life skills, such as entrepreneurship. Demand for both sides of the business has spiked so far this year.
"We have been busy every day since March," Gilman says.
The 1-year-old L3C has grown its presence through word of mouth in the community, social media marketing and a little bit of marketing efforts. The four-person operation's biggest success is with its Earn a Bike program, a short class that teaches young kids how to fix bikes.
"It's a six-week program for young people to better understand bikes," Gilman says. "Instead of them paying us to fix their bike they can fix it themselves."
The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan
-sponsored program has already completed one class this year and is in the process of teaching another. Southwest Rides hopes to expand it to two class at a time soon.
"We're excited about where things are headed," Gilman says.
Source: Isaac Gilman, board member of Southwest Rides
Writer: Jon Zemke
Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.