Local Cyclists Bring Non Profit Bike Shop to Northside
By Hollie Parrish
Last summer, 25-year-old cyclist Marcus Fetch was volunteering with his church when he realized some people need a whole lot more than just the gospel. The more time he spent at halfway homes and shelters, the more he realized the extent of Birmingham’s transportation problem.
WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) to help people find and keep a job if they couldn’t even physically make it to an interview?
Apparently, turn to Craigslist.
Fetch’s plan was simple: buy $500 worth of used parts and bikes and give interested parties a free shot at owning a decent bike.
With the help of a few friends and fellow bike enthusiasts, he began Redemptive Cycles, a build-a-bike program, in a corner of the construction warehouse where he worked. Free of charge, he and his fellow mechanics helped strapped-for-cash residents put together and repair their own bikes.
One recipient of the build-a-bike program, UAB student Majaliwa Mzombwe, eventually became Redemptive first “intern”.
“After getting a bike from Redemptive, I started working [as a bike courier] at Jimmy John’s,” Mzombwe said. “After a few months, I returned the bike and bought a better one. Then I started fixing my friend’s bikes.”
As Fetch and his friends continued to fix and distribute bikes (including 6 bikes that were donated to the YMCA), he started to develop the idea of permanently bringing affordable bikes to the downtown community.
Understanding the frustration some Birmingham residents suffered in not being able to afford a decent bike or even access a bike shop, the group started making arrangements to move Redemptive Cycles from a warehouse into an actual shop space.
After a year of collecting bikes and parts, some donated by Bob’s Bikes in Homewood and Bici Cooperative in Highland Park, Redemptive Cycles will be hosting their grand opening on Saturday, August 3rd. Food and beer will be available as well as the opportunity to buy, sell, or trade bikes and parts.
The four-man operation (which includes two full time mechanics and a store manager) offers a variety of cycling bikes from $100 to $300 and bike parts on a sliding scale. According to Fetch, the group plans to continue its free build-a-bike program funded by its steady supply of solid, inexpensive merchandise.
“All in downtown Birmingham there are no bike shops.” He said, in reference to the downtown and Northside area. “You have to go to Mountain Brook or Homewood. That’s the closest place. There’s no market in between a $100 bike and a $600 bike. We’re trying to fulfill that need”.
As more interns and community members become involved with the shop, Redemptive plans to designate one day a week to building and donating bikes to children and adults. Until then, Fetch and his partners are still doing what they love: working the store during the day, cycling after hours, and believing in the power of their product.
“Most other major cities have nonprofit bike co-ops,” he said. “We just thought to ourselves, ‘Why not Birmingham?’”
Redemptive Cycles is open from Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. If you are interested in volunteering or purchasing/donating merchandise contact the shop via phone [(205.31CYCLE)] or check out their website Redemptive Cycles