How a Non-Profit Bike Shop Builds a Loyal Community
Type “SF bike shop” into Yelp and you’ll get more than 100 pages of listings. There’s a shop for every type of cyclist—and every type of San Franciscan.
Shops for the brand-o-phile, shops for the fixie-obsessed, shops for DIY-ers. There are sleek designer storefronts and hole-in-the-wall operations. Shops that turn bikes into art installations and bike shops that sell other things, too, like coffee and designer t-shirts. There are shops for those who wear padded biker shorts and shops for those who wear flannel.
The steep competition is met only by city cyclists’ appetite for a shop that will not only fulfill their needs—location, service, and product—but will become, a reflection of themselves, and even a touch-point for community. For many cyclists, from the marathoner to the casual cruiser, finding your shop can be like finding your “Cheers,” only with frames and gears instead of beer and a wrench-wielding mechanic instead of Sam, the bartender.
A bike shop, like the customer cruising SF’s green-painted runways, has a unique identity. And as a result, the shops that are able to nurture a loyal customer base are the ones that effectively speak directly to customers about what makes it special.
Of course, standing out in the noise and nurturing a community is easier said than done when just a small team is charged with competing with hundreds of listings and Instagram accounts. And it’s even more difficult when a brand’s story is multi-faceted and complicated.
Take the non-profit bike shop Pedal Revolution, located on a quiet street in San Francisco’s Mission District.
It’s not just a shop specializing in custom, refurbished bikes; it’s also got a social mission. Working with non-profit New Door Ventures, the shop offers at-risk youth paid internships and job-skill training in order to help them overcome issues such as poverty and homelessness so they can become thriving adults.
As big fans of Pedal Revolution (our team member Ben even bought his Surly Cross Check there), we were stoked that they agreed to tell the Pedal Revolution story with Adobe Spark as a beta tester.
From getting the word out about the cool vintage frames the mechanics and interns refurbish everyday, to driving bike donations in order to support the comprehensive job training program, to educating donors about the organization’s needs, it’s up to a small, rag-tag team to communicate Pedal Revolution’s mission. It’s not just a more complicated story to tell than the average bike shop: with more than 8,000 disconnected youth in the city limits, the stakes are higher, too.
So it’s been inspiring to see Business Development Manager Nancy Gallegos communicate the shop’s purpose and identity through a variety of media on the shop’s social media channels. And even more so to see the content get real results, both online and offline.
Take the video below she created encouraging people to donate their bike to the shop. After posting it, the shop received 10 donation inquiries in just one day, a sizable increase compared to what it was getting before they started using video on their social channels.
Because the business and the comprehensive job training program relies on bike donations from the community, getting this message out is critical to Pedal Revolution’s success. Donor communications are also essential to the business. From mission statements to annual reports, the easy creation flow and visual layout of Spark Page means the team can focus its resources on its social mission instead of designing content.
And just as importantly, to find its particular tribe of bike lovers, Nancy turns to social media to showcase beautiful bike details and track the craftsmanship behind each creation. “Many customers actually find out about us on Instagram or Facebook, or through our blog,” Nancy says. “We use Posts to attract the bike community. They love to see pictures of really cool bikes with awesome color and detail. We also take pictures of our staff riding on cool trails in San Francisco or just the basic bike shop life.”
Pedal Revolution’s #SparkMade content regularly receives hundreds of likes and shares from the bike community it reaches online, mostly because it reflects the authentic vibe and altruistic identity that’s at Pedal Revolution’s core.
Of course, likes and shares online are only representative of Pedal Revolution’s real success offline.
“Every day I come in knowing that we’re employing at least 200 young adults every year,” Nancy says, “and that they are able to have a better shot in life because we exist and so, that, to me, is success.”
More than new frames, axles, sales or donations, it’s about community—and Pedal Revolution’s got that in spades. You can feel it the moment you step beyond the graffitied roll-top door into the crowded, funky shop. And we would know as we spent two days filming this short video there. Check it out to learn more about what Pedal Revolution does and how it uses Spark to communicate its message.