[TheThinkTank] Shop Operations During Covid

Bike Church Santa Cruz thebikechurch at gmail.com
Tue Nov 24 20:08:38 PST 2020

Hi all,

This is Nik at the Bike Church in Santa Cruz, California. I really enjoyed
reading about how and what you all are doing and wanted to give an update
on our shop. In the beginning of shelter in place we closed down
completely, but we opened up for appointments at the end of May. I
coordinated all that via email and phone and used a spreadsheet to keep
track (so much work!!). We started opening one day a week and still doing
appointments two days a week, and then decided to stop appointments since
it was so much work to organize and now are open Saturday and Sunday
12-4pm. It's a far cry from our Monday-Saturday 12-6pm that we had going
before but we are still here and doing our thing. We don't get too many
annoyed questions about when we'll be "open like normal again" and for the
most part people are understanding of the circumstances.

There are a lot of pros and cons to appointments versus open hours. It was
first of all, way too much work, there were about 400 appointments that got
scheduled from May 24-Oct 18 and we got about 10-30 emails and 5-10 phone
messages every day. But, with the appointments it was finally possible to
truly prioritize the people we are always striving to prioritize in our
shop-- WTF and BIPOC people. And the one on one environment allowed for
more complex and in depth projects, and is a better learning
environment/more accessible to different kinds of learners. Our normal
pre-covid shop environment was very hectic at times and you might have had
to be assertive to get the help you needed. However, with appointments we
were barely breaking even but maybe not if you include the paid hours for
me to coordinate. Also, this system was not very accessible to houseless
folks, who are a huge part of who we are trying to be here for.

Open hours are fun and chaotic. When we first started opening Saturdays
(June 7) we were selling every bike we had in the first half hour or hour!
We decided to only sell bikes that are ready to ride but not as-is because
there's not the capacity to buy a bike and fix it for 5 hours anymore. This
is definitely the thing that keeps the lights on and I guess we were
benefiting from this surge in bike interest as well as the shortage of new
stuff. And yes, ordering has been super difficult but we finalyy restocked
our 26x1.9-2.125 schrader tubes lol

The way we're doing the shop on open days feels pretty safe but it's not
perfect and we're thinking about not letting people inside on rainy days
and just fixing bikes for people. Currently, we have three bikes stands in
the courtyard and will have at most one person on a stand inside. We have
to limit people looking for parts because it takes so long and can end up
in people clumping in an area of the shop. The biggest thing that keeps
everything smooth and safe is the "gatekeeper" who sits there and lets
people in one at a time, sanitize hands, and ask symptom check questions.
This allows us to keep the limits we set for number of people, and to not
let in potential trouble makers from the start (refuse to wear a mask while
waiting in line-- can't come in).

Overall, I'd say we're going strong and have been largely spared here with
relatively low spread and extremely tolerable weather. We managed to hire
and train three new people since the pandemic, but we also "lost" three
people who are not working due to their concerns about the virus.

Nik and the Biciglesia collective

PS. I want to organize a community bike shop postcard exchange around New
Years email me if you want to coordinate it with me or if you want your
shop to receive one of the post cards!! thebikechurch at gmail.com

On Mon, Oct 19, 2020 at 6:25 PM momoko saunders <analyst at bikefarm.org>

> Hey all,
> I'd love to get a quick update on what shops are doing for shop
> operations during covid. There was an awesome virtual workshop put on a few
> months ago. What are shops up to now?
> At Bike Farm, we're still far from being open in our usual way. We have a
> parts selling shift for one day of the week. We meet people outside and get
> a list of items they want to purchase, then volunteers rummage around and
> find the parts and bring them out for the patron to choose from. We do not
> allow use of tools which is really hard but most people understand. We do
> have a selection of tools which we have available for sale for real cheap.
> This includes random loose allen wrenches, other wrenches, multi tools.
> Here are the guidelines for this shift
> <https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xu3qCapSPopoQ7VbiqyG1VJdroA6WiJwBSPleTNf6QU/edit?usp=sharing>
> .
> We also have a shift where volunteers work on bikes in the shop for sale
> or for our community partnerships. We limit all volunteer groups to 5
> people at a time, and we try to keep people in germ bubbles so that if
> someone does get sick, we've limited the exposure. Everyone wears masks at
> all times and keeps distant.
> We have a 3rd night which we just added called our infrastructure night.
> On this night we work on cleaning the shop and making it more functional.
> We have a document outlining
> <https://docs.google.com/document/d/1EthWNOhjeo4sOQZobhrvykb_gTB4aGRKeMdiL0TUidI/edit?usp=sharing>
> our covid protocols. I've made a copy of it for the thinktank to view.
> Everyone in the shop must read and agree to these guidelines before being
> able to volunteer.
> ---
> With a vaccine looking like it will not be here and widely available till
> summer or even fall of 2021, we're looking for more creative ways to
> provide resources to the community, stay safe, and maybe make some money to
> pay rent. I'd love to hear if others have come up with creative ways to
> continue operations during this time.
> Hope you all are well,
> -Momoko
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