Community Bike Shops - Business Models
"Most of these workshops charge small shop day use or periodic membership fees, around $5 per day to use. As ecologically minded organizations, they recycle bike parts and get donations from bike companies to sell at low cost or as “digging rights” for a bigger bike project. Some have flat “build a bike” fees to cover the cost of staff supervision, parts, frame, etc. to build an entire bike from scratch (from a minimal $30 to $60 or a six hours work trade). Patrons at SF Bike Kitchen have a third payment option – to volunteer for another nonprofit on the local Timebank and use their Timebank hours to pay. Shops offer bartering so that costs can be paid in labor instead of money by their lowest income customers, reducing barriers to participation from diverse groups. For this reason, some kitchens, like Colectivelo in Oakland, California, use no money at all.
Kitchens are different from regular bike shops in that they involve their patrons learning to fix their own bikes and becoming self-sufficient mechanics. Volunteer staff may guide them or teach them in classes, but the work is done by the patrons in a learn-by-doing methodology, which is critical in mastering bike maintenance and repair. To keep the shops sustainable, patrons are recruited to be volunteer staff, teaching others at whatever level they are at. SF Bike Kitchen staff seem to love their jobs, are obsessed with bikes, and reliably show up for weekly 5-hour shifts. The San Francisco Bike Kitchen has more patrons than it has space, so there is usually a line at the door even before the kitchen opens." ((http://www.shareable.net/blog/biketopia-exists))