Franklin County

Frankfort bicycle shop doesn't want to sell you a bike

Bicycles look "like brand new when we get done," Harrod said.
Bicycles look "like brand new when we get done," Harrod said.

People who go to Folkbike Re-Cyclery bicycle shop in downtown Frankfort this holiday season won't get a sales pitch.

But they might get the chance to rebuild a used bike in the shop for themselves or for someone else who needs one.

Folkbike Re-Cyclery is a non-profit organization that takes unwanted used bicycles and restores and repairs them.

The founder of Folkbike, Stuart Harrod, often gives the bikes to people who can't afford to purchase them.

In other instances, Harrod said, people might pick out a bike they want and in return make a donation that is used to buy more parts.

"In November," Harrod said, "we are in kids' bike mode, getting as many Christmas bikes as we can done."

On Tuesday, Harrod was in the shop building bikes to give as Christmas gifts for children from low-income families.

Once a used bike is donated to Folkbike, Harrod said, "We strip them down to the frame, detail clean them and polish them, buff them out, address any issue with the bike. We totally rebuild them. It's like brand new when we get done."

Harrod is giving 17 bikes to area children's organizations this Christmas. Through Folkbike, Harrod gives away 15 to 25 bikes a month.

Pam McCalla is the director of Simon House, a Frankfort transitional living program for women and children who previously didn't have homes of their own.

McCalla said children from the six families at Simon House have bikes from Folkbike Re-Cyclery.

Some children arrive at Simon House with just their clothes, she said.

"Most of the kids who come here feel powerless over their situation, so having a normal thing like a bike helps them adjust to the neighborhood. ... It gives them a healthier lifestyle," said McCalla. "It means a great deal to them."

Harrod, 47, said his love of bicycles began at a young age.

"I've been tinkering with bikes pretty much my whole life," he said.

In 2008, he saw a neighbor cleaning out a storage shed and throwing away a couple of old bikes. They needed some work but otherwise were great bikes, he said.

About that time, Harrod met some people who didn't have any transportation, couldn't afford bus fare and were looking for jobs.

"I fixed the bikes up and gave them to them. It just took off from there," he said.

Harrod started working out of his basement in 2008 and moved to his current location on East Broadway about 18 months ago. In December, Harrod is going to move again, to another downtown space on Lewis Street, which he said would enable him to launch a formal program to help children build their own bikes.

"We've evolved now into teaching people to fix up their own bikes," said Harrod.

He estimated that 50 to 100 bikes are repaired at the shop each month.

The people who work for Harrod are volunteers.

When children or adults come by looking for a new chain or for a repair to a torn seat, Harrod or a volunteer teaches them how to work on their bikes. Sometimes, he said, children help other children work on their bikes.

"We furnish tools, repair stands, used parts," Harrod said.

Some donated bikes are stripped for usable parts.

Christian Huggins, who works at a Frankfort factory, said he volunteers three times a week at the shop.

"It's something to bring the community together," he said.

Huggins sees a change in the children who come into the shop to work on their bikes.

"It gives them something to do," he said. "After a few months, they want to be of service to the community. It really makes a positive impact on their lives."

Nicole Culp, director of The Sunshine Center, a family violence-prevention agency in Frankfort, said this was the second year that Folkbike had provided bikes to her organization at Christmas.

"The parents are overjoyed and just really grateful," she said.

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