What is Open Shop?
In an industry dominated by retail operations, Cycles for Change’s Community Open Shop is unique because it focuses on educating community members in do-it-yourself bicycle mechanics.
Our Community Open Shops are staffed by our expert youth apprentice mechanics. These high school-aged apprentices are paired with patrons as they arrive to Open Shop, assess the bicycle, and then teach the patron how to fix what needs to be repaired–how to true the wheel, change brake cables, or just pump air into the tires.
Open Shop is a necessary resource in our Minneapolis and St. Paul communities. According to the MN Pollution Control Agency, on- and off-road vehicles contribute nearly half of all air pollutants emitted in Minnesota. Transportation accounts for nearly 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the state, contributing to global climate change that harms people and communities, especially communities of color who experience higher rates of asthma. In addition, low-income residents are more likely to drive cars that are older, run-down, and often not meeting emission limit standards. C4C engages these low-income communities around bicycle education and mechanics which helps get some of the most polluting vehicles off the road and supports these individuals with access to a financially-reliable and environmental-friendly transportation option.
Open Shop is offered four times a week during the summer season at the St. Paul Shop (Wed-Thur 1-7pm, Fri-Sat 1-6pm) and two times a week at the Minneapolis Shop (Wed 4-7pm, Sat 1-6pm). Additionally, we offer Grease Rag (Women/Transgender/Femme/Non-Binary) Open Shop Tuesdays 5-8pm at both the Minneapolis and St. Paul shops. Please refer to the side bar for up to date hours (Winter Hours are effective November 1-April 1).
If you have an issue with your bike, we look forward to helping you fix it. Everyone is welcome at Open Shop–work on your bike, use our tools, and talk to mechanics about your bike!
Open Shop is the perfect opportunity to learn new skills and fix your own bicycle. As an organization dedicated to bicyclists, both new and experienced, Open Shop provides a mechanism to enable people to get on their bicycles and choose an alternate form of transportation. Also, for those whom transportation is a large portion of their expenses, Open Shop provides an opportunity to fix up one’s bicycle to have a free choice of transportation.
How much does Open Shop cost?
No one will be turned away for inability to pay for Open Shop. We suggest a $2-20/hour to help cover staff time, use of the space and tools, and as a way to keep supporting this and other programming at Cycles for Change.
Please donate if you are able to–your donation helps support the work we do!
We have used and new replacement parts for sale at both locations during Open Shop hours to purchase when working on your bike.
Volunteering at Open Shop in St. Paul
Cycles for Change is happy to announce the pilot of our St. Paul Open Shop Volunteer Program. In this program, volunteers work as Open Shop assistants and mechanics, helping patrons and assisting shop operations. To get started in this program, you will need to sign up for one of our volunteer orientations. These orientations are limited to 5 people per class and will be filled on a first come, first served basis. To sign up for an orientation, please stop by our St. Paul Open Shop and talk to a staff member.
If you have any questions about this process, please e-mail our Volunteer Coordinator, Paj, at [email protected].
Volunteer Open Shop Mechanic
Purpose: Open Shop volunteer mechanics assist our diverse patrons with repairs to their bicycles in collaboration with Cycles for Change youth apprentices and staff. This position will also repair donated bicycles for program use and/or prepare bicycles for retail sale.
- Troubleshoot and repair bicycles with minimal direction/supervision from staff.
- Must follow C4C’s repair protocols and standards to produce safe and functioning bicycles.
- Work during potentially busy Open Shops (will have a designated work area if working on a bicycle for programming).
- Support volunteer shop assistants in expanding their knowledge in a collaborative environment.
- Teach bicycle repairs to patrons while demonstrating C4C’s hands-off teaching method.
Qualifications: This position requires previous bicycle repair experience. Applicants must have one season or more experience as a bicycle mechanic (paid or volunteer) with a bike shop. Self taught or “home” mechanics also qualify, but may be asked to demonstrate ability. Familiarity with older–as well as more recent–bicycle standards is necessary. Lastly, and most importantly, a welcoming and enthusiastic attitude with all shop visitors, regardless of background, gender, race, sexual orientation, economic situation, age, or ability, is needed.
Volunteer Open Shop Assistant
Purpose: This position supports operations during Open Shop shifts. This position assists open shop mechanics, youth apprentices, and staff in helping patrons repair bikes.
- Assist in simple repairs such as fixing a flat and helping users perform overall safety checks on their bicycles.
- Maintain shop appearance, organization, cleanliness, and safety.
- Disassemble bikes per direction from staff and volunteer mechanics.
- Process used parts from salvaged bicycles and maintain quality inventory.
- Help shop patrons sign in, answer basic questions, and help prospective volunteers connect with orientations.
Qualifications: No previous bike repair experience is needed. Volunteer Open Shop Assistants should have a desire to learn, willingness to help others, and enthusiasm for working with all shop visitors, regardless of background, gender, race, sexual orientation, economic situation, age, or ability.
We currently do not offer group volunteer opportunities.