Do you ever wonder what happened to that bike you left locked to the light pole last semester? Deferred Prosecution Program Coordinator Tom Baehr at Justice Works is putting the final touches on opening a bike refurbishing shop next to the Mitchell Piano Works.
Shifting Gears LLC is going to hire people just released from prison, looking for a fresh start. The goal is to help keep former offenders away from the "demons" as Baehr described that led them down the path they once took by giving them a job.
The bike shop will sell bikes donated by various sources such as the Police Department. Tom said that the bikes were also donated from a man who used to own a business similar to what Shifting Gears will be like.
Tom described this project as the closest thing to a green approach to bicycles. Shifting Gears will take bikes from places looking to liquidate their supply of bikes, fix them, and then resell them.
"We don’t want to step on any toes," Baehr said. "We want to work with Campus Cycle and Hostel Shoppe because they have their niche and we have our niche."
The niche Baehr is talking about are people who aren’t looking for the best bike on the road, but low priced, restored bikes. Baehr plans on using his knowledge in bicycles to replace the rusted or broken parts of bikes and have them back in full working order.
The bike shop is working on creating a website and is hoping to open the bike shop in June. There will also be an ebay.com account offering parts online for the biker trying to create their own bike piece by piece.
One target market is the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point campus. Baehr is setting up a system where you can purchase a bike from Shifting Gears and rather then leave it locked up for a cop to take, you can donate it back and receive a discount the following semester for a new bike.
"Everything around campus is within biking distance," Tom said. "A lot of folks are working part time or taking out loans so not a whole lot of kids are scoping out Lexuses."
Baehr said that they will be open four days per week from around 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. The official days and times, as well as grand opening date, are still to be officially determined.
"It’s better transportation in the sense that it’s non-polluting," Baehr said. "It’s also good exercise, it’s a way to improve health."
The ex-offender program, the health improvement and non-polluting aspects of bikes, and helping the university are all factors that go into Shifting Gears idea, according to Baehr.