Franklinton Cycle Works Celebrates 10 Years, Debuts New Expanded SpaceSeptember 28, 2021 1:17 pm Susan Post
Franklinton Cycle Works recently celebrated two major milestones: its 10-year anniversary, and the grand opening of its new, expanded space.
Over the last decade, Founder Jonathan Youngman has built Franklinton Cycle Works into a community resource providing access to affordable bikes, bike parts and maintenance, as well as educational resources for riding safely.
Now, the non-profit has cemented its place in the neighborhood and nearly doubled its footprint with the purchase of the building in which it had been operating, 897 W. Broad St., as well as the parcel next door, 891 W. Broad St.
Multiple factors made purchasing the best fit for FCW. Not only had the organization run out of space some time ago, but the changing dynamics of the neighborhood saw the non-profit eager to maintain its location.
“With the way that the neighborhood is developing, we figured there would be a time in the not so distant future in which we would be priced out of at least Broad Street, so we wanted to make that purchase before that happened so that we could be here for the long-run,” Youngman says.
As its name implies, FCW identifies strongly with the neighborhood and it was important they remained visible in the community.
“Other organizations, non-profits, kind of do their work wherever it’s needed, but for us, pinning Franklinton as our home and sort of primarily place of impact was just part of the identity of the organization,” Youngman says. “So, we wanted to make that investment to make sure that we could be here for the long-term.”
Moving into a new decade of business, more space means more opportunities for FCW to make an impact. The non-profit has developed a number of programs and services over the years geared towards novice riders and those using their bikes for transportation.
For the DIY crowd, there are six bike work stations that are open to the public and come outfitted with their own set of tools, small parts and more. FCW also offers fee-for-service repairs like a traditional bike shop.
On the retail side of things, the shop offers affordable, quality used parts since traditional bike parts can be expensive. For example, Youngman says a brand new set of even entry-level brakes at a normal store might be $30, but are priced closer to $5 at FCW.
Bikes donated to the non-profit are sorted for a number of different purposes. Some are stripped for parts then recycled. Many basic, well-loved bikes are shipped overseas to programs in Africa where bikes are typically less accessible. And still others are tuned up for resale or other FCW programs.
Much of FCW’s new space will be dedicated to expanding its retail offerings.
“The idea is we’ll have a much bigger selection of bikes for sale, we’ll have a much bigger selection of new parts for sale and our nicer used parts will be better organized and more accessible to the public,” Youngman says.
Retail is the financial engine that allows FCW to offer many of its programs and services at low or no cost to those that need it.
That includes offerings like the workstations, which are also available through co-op membership, as well as maintenance courses like Bike School, and Community Rides, which help cyclists learn how to navigate city streets.
Another initiative that FCW launched this year which Youngman is excited about, is the Bicycles for Independence program, organized in partnership with Carol Stewart Village. The community provides supportive housing to young adults between 18 and 24 that are aging out of the foster care system. Youngman says many individuals within the community have opportunities for work or attending school, but they don’t always have transportation, which is where FCW comes in.
Youngman says that for many of these young adults, a bike can be a great option. Through the program, individuals referred to FCW get to pick out their own bike and are outfitted with all the pertinent accessories for free.
Youngman wants to create more of these positive shopping experiences, like an individual that’s faced many hardships getting to pick out something of their very own.
“We like the idea of having it all in the same space,” he says. “One thing that we’ve really tried to achieve from the very beginning is that when people come in this space, whether they come in with some money to buy stuff or come in with literally no money, we want them to feel like they are entering a bike shop where they have a dignified shopping experience.”
FCW is designed to have a broad appeal that can provide that kind of positive experience, but is also welcoming to the average consumer. Youngman sees the neighborhood developing and as new demographics move in, he wants to capture that crowd and serve as their neighborhood bike shop.
It brings everything full circle: more customers means more impact and better means of self-sustainability.
“As a social enterprise, we are very intentional about being as self-sufficient as possible,” Youngman says. “We really don’t want to be exclusively dependent on grants. Grants are great for specific programs, but they come and go.”
It’s all about ensuring that FCW will be around to serve the community for the next 10 years.
“If you want stability and longevity, it’s important to be able to generate your own revenue,” Youngman says.
For its commitment to building sustainability and making a direct impact in the neighborhood, FCW was recently honored as The Social Enterprise of the Year at Aspire 2021, hosted by CU’s sister-site The Metropreneur. The award recognizes businesses and organizations that seek to do more than make a profit, but include a non-negotiable social impact as part of their mission.
Since the start of the year, FCW has sold 400 plus low-cost bikes and given away thousands more. The shop has welcomed thousands of visitors, and helped hundreds more through its programming.
Youngman says that for folks looking for a practical, affordable bike to get from one place to another, or those interested in biking but they don’t know where to start, FCW is the place. And by making it their place, their purchase has more impact.
Franklinton Cycle Works is open from 12 – 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
For more information, visit franklintoncycleworks.org.
All photos by Susan Post