Genevieve Parker is the program director for Reno Bike Project. The group moved in 2017 from East Fourth Street to Grove Street. In June 2018, they leased an additional storage space, back in the old neighborhood, at 635 E. Fourth Street. This weekend, they’ll open the new digs to the public as an additional full-service shop. A grand opening celebration—with a bike swap, games and DJs from KWNK—is scheduled for 10 a.m.-5 p.m., April 20. For information, visit RenoBikeProject.org.
What made you decide to go back to Fourth Street?
It was a happy coincidence. We were looking for extra storage space … and we found that place, that building, and it’s huge, so we had to kind of reevaluate whether to rent that building. … The original plan was just storage, but we saw how much space there was there, and we were like, We could put a production center over there, we could put a small shop over there, and we could have all the storage that we need and probably more. So it was almost the building that dictated what happened there. It felt really right, though. … We lost a lot of storage from what we had at the old Fourth Street location. Also, we’re busier than ever … and we’re getting more donations. We had to grow.
Do you have a sense of why you’ve been getting busier? Do you think it’s a natural momentum?
I think it is a lot of natural momentum. The city is growing, and I think a lot of people who both lived here already and who moved here are realizing that getting around by bike is a great way to do it, and they can bypass a lot of traffic woes if they choose to bike.
Has your clientele changed over the last few years?
Definitely, from moving here, yes. We’ve always had a really diverse clientele. This neighborhood here [near Grove Street] has a lot of families living in it. … It doesn’t have the same [homeless] shelter and services that Fourth Street did. So, our shop has become a lot more kid-friendly in the last of couple years, that’s for sure.
We are selling a lot more kids’ bikes. … And we have a lot of kids coming through here, in afternoons and on weekends—and we’re continually helping them patch flats and pump tires. It’s good energy.
This is the first time you’ll have two full-service locations. What did you have to do to make that work financially?
We decided to just make it work on the budget that we had. To be honest, that location over there is not making money yet, but we are hopeful that it will be in a couple of years, and we hope to float it until it does.
Have you had to beef up your staff?
To a degree, we’ve made it work with staff that we had before, but we have been actively hiring. We have brought a few new faces on, and they’re a big help. But we’re still hiring. We could use more people.
What are you looking for in an employee?
Most importantly, someone who feels really passionate and wants to learn, and secondarily, someone with experience as a bike mechanic or as a customer service person. The passion and the excitement and the teachability are probably the most important aspects.
The RN&R hasn’t caught up with you in a while. Have you started any new programs lately?
One of the things I’m most proud of as program manager is, we have a job skills training program that uses our two shops as an environment for training people who are maybe in their first jobs with general employability skills, making them pretty savvy mechanics—but also a lot of attendance skills that you’d need for any specialty retail job. It’s for youth 16-24. It lasts for 15 weeks, and it’s paid the whole time.