Harness yourself to something breathtaking!…
Bicycles are humble machines, but I believe they have the potential to change peoples’ lives, change the face of our cities, and — if we let them — even change the world.
A bicycle store is a humble enterprise, but I believe it has the potential to change the way people move around and participate in their community, by recognizing and embracing the idea that —while cycling may not be the center of anyone's life— it can be one of the many manifestations of a life of autonomy, self-determination and direct interaction with one’s surroundings, which many people seek.
If community grows around common ideas, then a community-based small business can serve as a platform for disseminating and promoting those ideas, both in its physical space and online, where those ideas can gain traction, find resonance, and strengthen the community.
The processes through which the business broadens its platform, especially where they are most successful, should perhaps be documented, in order to serve as a model or blueprint for other independent brick and mortar business owners, so they can grow their business and enrich their community, and so both can thrive.
I believe that —at its best— vibrant, independent, local business is much more than a place where goods and services are exchanged for money, and should be seen instead as the indispensable economic, social and cultural hub of community.
Instead of being locked to our computer screens, transacting business online under the guise of "growing the economy", we can choose to interact with one another, get to know and purchase needed merchandise and services from local merchants, restore our communities and build their economic strength, all the while allowing genuine human interactions to foster increased social and civic engagement, empathy and tolerance.
My own brick and mortar bicycle store can serve as both the crucible and the platform for exploring these ideas, especially since I believe that the bicycle is a vehicle particularly well suited to bringing communities together, and making them livable.
I don't pretend to have all the answers, but the truth is, not knowing how is a bad reason to not do anything, and a good reason to start learning. As a sentence is created word by word, and a book scene by scene, I will learn this process step by step, and I invite you to join me on this journey. Flourishing local businesses are indispensable to building healthy and dynamic communities, and if we forsake them, something vital and irreplaceable with vanish with them.