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Partnership keeps Burlington bike shop open, nonprofit rolling - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Partnership keeps Burlington bike shop open, nonprofit rolling

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

It's busy bike season at the Old Spokes Home in Burlington's Old North End. With spring around the corner, Dan Hock has no shortage of customers.

"This is an older Schwinn that we're restoring. Somebody brought it in for a tuneup," Hock said.

He's cleaning it and making any adjustments that will keep it rolling smoothly for the season. But services like these and sales don't fund a business anymore.

"The more business we have, the more effective we are in our community work," Hock said.

That's because the Old Spokes Home is now part of a nonprofit. In January 2015, Bike Recycle Vermont bought out their neighbors across the street.

"We had a 'wouldn't it be great if' conversation over the years," former owner Glenn Eames said.

Eames is still a regular in the repair shop and says the tough decision to sell was made easier knowing the business and its clientele would now be supporting community bike programming. And he's glad he can still come into work without the stress.

"It's really meditative to take something and straighten out a set of wheels or build a set of wheels. Because basically you've just got exotic plumbing with a couple of hoops and then that'll take you on a 50-60 mile ride. And that's pretty cool," Eames said.

What's also pretty cool, the founders say, is that their nonprofit, Bike Recycle, now has a stable funding source. Nonprofits often face a rocky road of funding, and through the repairs and sales at the Old Spokes Home, they're able to smooth out their ride. It's a system inspired by programs in larger cities like New York and Seattle.

"It serves as a social enterprise," Hock said. "So any profit or revenue that it turns off enables us to carry out the work of the social programming at Bike Recycle."

Across the street, they can see where the money is being used. Employees at Bike Recycle help low-income residents tune up bikes or get a set of wheels. And volunteers like Becca Van Dyke lend their time to help keep things tuned. She's been donating her time for a year and a half, sometimes as a mechanic.

"It's challenging for me," Van Dyke said. "I can't say that it comes naturally, so I like the challenge. And I like the satisfaction of having fixed someone and improved something for someone else to use."

And with Bike Recycle putting out 300-500 bikes a year and more than 1,000 repairs, she knows she'll be keeping busy.

Bike Recycle Vermont says they always need volunteer help. They have drop-ins Tuesday evenings that are open to everyone-- even the kids-- with no experience needed. Click here for more information.

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