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Bike Friendly Firsts in South Dakota
This post comes to us from Chad Pickard, the owner of bike shop Spoke-N-Sport, which today became the very first Bicycle Friendly Business in South Dakota. Read more about the latest round of Bicycle Friendly Business awardees here.
When I bough Spoke-N-Sport 13 years ago I didn't really know what I was doing. Buy low, sell high was about all the business instruction I had. I did know how to bike and I did know what cyclists needed.
Spoke-N-Sport had been around since 1988 and had certainly established itself as a rock solid bike store. The one thing that I knew was cyclists needed facilities to use and events to attend and places to ride. If cyclists don’t have either of these then what are the odds that cycling is going to grow? As the owner of a bike store (and an avid cyclist) I started involving Spoke-N-Sport in as many cycling events as possible, from Boy Scout troops coming to learn about bikes to doing after school bike rodeos and even support for many local bike rides. We were definitely a bike friendly business to those outside of our store but what about those that worked at Spoke-N-Sport?
We proved that we could be friendly to those that bike but what about those that worked for Spoke-N-Sport? Typically more than half of those who work at Spoke-N-Sport bike to work at least a few days a week. I can’t imagine someone working in a bike store and not being excited about cycling at least one or two days a week. We left it at that and felt that was enough. It wasn’t.
I actually had employees ask if it was ok to ride their bike to work and park their bike indoors. Over this last winter I read more and more about low pay in the bike industry and that bike stores were just a labor of love for those that want (needed) a discount on bike parts to sustain their bike addiction. Although our payroll is average for the industry, I wanted to offer something better than average. I wanted employees that wanted to be a part of something bigger.
To create a culture where they were excited to come to work, excited to contribute to work and excited to share their work with others, we had to raise the bar. Pay was raised across the board and expectations were raised a bit too. I started looking for things outside of pay that would make working at Spoke-N-Sport more enjoyable and beneficial to cyclists. Being a Bicycle Friendly Business was one of the things we applied for. We now have a shower and lockers for employees, as well as indoor parking. As part of this process we added a commuter program so that employees get paid to bike to work. Our Bicycle Friendly Business designation is GOLD and that means we can do better, our next goal will be platinum. It also means that the standard has been set and we will strive to meet and exceed that standard on a daily basis.
I hope that this award gets noticed by other businesses in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, as something to add that will attract cyclists and create a healthier culture in their work place. I hope that people look at this award and view it as a step that we’ve taken to make Sioux Falls a more bike friendly community.