To provide near universal access to bicycle repair and technical knowledge, affordable bicycles and parts, and space within which to feel safe and welcome while learning and repairing.
How is this achieved at a bicycle shop?
Firstly, we were granted 501c3 and 509a2 statuses, making us a registered public charity and generally ruling out a profit motive. This changes the way we interact with markets to the benefit of the mission. We may fund ourselves with grants and financial gifts, solicited or not, as an alternative to selling bicycles at typical rates and charging service fees for labor. We may accept material donations, the end goal being redistribution via either sale or programs like our earn-a-bike program instead of purchasing parts new and establishing a margin of profit with which to pay workers.
Secondly, we have chosen to operate as a cooperative. This means each and every decision is intentionally deliberated upon by some or all of us, giving equal standing to anyone involved from which to give input.
Thirdly, we remain aware of the social commentary such a space as this is offering up just by existing, so we actively carve room into operations for those in the margins of Richmond City’s collective mind, and the industry at large. Having space dedicated to Women, Transgender, and Femme identifying people is a piece of that. Having the option to award someone who is without transportation in exchange for a little help around the shop also a piece of that. Being able to fix and donate bicycles directly to like minded organizations is yet another piece. It goes on and on, and so at this point you’re probably wondering:
Are the current methods more or less sustainable?
The short answer is a conditional yes. Yes on the condition that larger portions of the cycling community begin to view Rag & Bones as actual infrastructure upon which sub groups travel. Like a bike path, or a new anti-dooring regulation, and a sign that says “one way except bikes,” supporting a non-profit bicycle shop is a population’s effort to accommodate certain parts of itself better than it’s for-profit corporations do. In the end, you’re the one that decides whether or not Rag & Bones makes it to the 10 year mark, or the 15, or the 30 year mark.