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Bicycle Recycle in Pajama Factory pedals through pandemic

For seven years, the Bicycle Recycle shop has been the epitome of upcycling, taking used bicycles, refurbishing them if possible or turning them into parts to be reused or recycled as scrap metal.

Owners David and Louise Stone, along with their team of volunteers, have sold bikes, helped people learn how to repair bikes, built bikes from the many pieces that they have managed to scrap and donated bikes to those who could not afford them.

Their business, located at the Pajama Factory, was founded on the belief that bicycles make the community a better place to live and work.

They began small, but moved to a much larger showroom and repair area in 2019. The shop typically closes for the winter months and had planned opening again in March 2020. Then the pandemic hit.

“People wanted bikes. We couldn’t operate the way that we normally do. It was so crowded. We had a lot of donated bikes,” Louise said.

“What we did, we moved probably 20 of our bikes right out into the parking lot and we began selling one evening a week when we could get volunteers. We had people set up about six feet apart and that worked out for us especially well and we continued that,” she added.

When she and her husband opened the shop in 2014, Louise said that she never envisioned it would reach its current level.

“We were a lot of times not breaking even,” she said of the early days, “so we would put money towards it.”

This year, so far, more than 600 people have visited the shop. They have sold 375 bicycles, helped 220 people with repairs and donated 409 bikes to community organizations.

“We do not send junk to the landfill. We have brought more than 500 bikes and parts that cannot be used to Staiman’s Recycling,” she said.

The inventory at Bicycle Recycle changes weekly, so the owners suggest checking their website to see what’s available. In addition to bikes, the shop has parts and accessories available for purchase. Helmets, bike locks and lights are available at a low cost.

“Part of our missions is to be bicycle advocates. We want to improve bike safety and discourage bike theft,” Louise said.

In order to discourage bike theft, Bicycle Recycle does not buy used bikes or accept bike trade-ins.

Louise attributed the longevity of their business to the dedication of their volunteers. There’s Tegan Hartman, shop manager and inventory manager, who has been a volunteer since 2014 and has helped to bring order to the chaos of their parts inventory. Megan Becker, another volunteer, whose non-profit The KayLeo Project helps other non-profits with marketing, has designed and maintained the shop’s website. Mike Ott, is the volunteer head mechanic.

The Stones have also received support from local businesses.

“For years we had difficulty sorting through the vast amount and variety of bike parts and accessories,” Louise said.

“Thermal Product Solutions donated hundreds of industrial bins to help us organize our inventory. This allows us to repair and refurbish bikes more efficiently for our community and focus on our core mission,” she added.

“Every week we see how bikes can change people’s lives,” Louise said.

She shared a story of a young man who moved to the area for employment. He had the job, but no way to get there, so he came to Bicycle Recycle to see if they could help him. With verification of his employment in hand, Louise said, they were able to give him a bike and said that he could pay for it over time.

“Our neighborhood business has increased a lot and that’s one of the reasons that we started it was to help a disadvantaged neighborhood where a lot of kids have bikes,” Louise said.

They also donate bikes to the YMCA for distribution to children in the child care program.

“The most interesting thing about the shops is the interaction among the people–seeing a child’s delight in getting their first bike, providing a bike to a person who has no other means of transportation to get to a job, watching a senior citizen enthusiastic about again getting outside on their own power–that can be life-changing,” she said.

“Also we empower people to help themselves. A person who comes in with a broken bike leaves with a functional one, some idea of how a bike works and the many things they can fix themselves,” she added.

Inventory information is available on their website at: www.williamsportbicyclerecycle.org.

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