going above and beyond to help improve bicycling in their own communities. Last month we chatted with Ginny Politz from Bikesport in Trappe, PA. This month, Vanessa McCracken from Sunnyside Bicycles in Fresno, CA was kind enough to answer a few questions about her shop and how PeopleForBikes fits into it.
PFB: Tell us a little bit about Sunnyside.
VM: Sunnyside Bicycles is a full-service bike shop located in Fresno’s historic Sunnyside neighborhood. We’ve served Central California since 2002 and have eight employees (six full-time, two part-time). We are known as the friendly bike shop in town and specialize in taking the intimidation factor out of cycling. We love bikes. We want as to get as many people as possible to discover the joy of riding bikes, so we do everything we can to empower people to ride. We do beginner, family-friendly rides, flat repair clinics and we even do clinics that teach you how to shift your gears and what all the parts of the bike do!
How have your customers reacted to PeopleForBikes?
Our customers have embraced the PeopleForBikes movement since day one. Whether it’s been signing the pledge, rounding up their purchases or simply wearing pins and putting stickers on their cars, our customers have been amazing about supporting and spreading the PeopleForBikes message. When we launched our roundup program last year, we were concerned about burnout, that our customers would fatigue of us asking for a donation every single time they bought something and stop donating. Nothing could be further from the truth! Since launching in late April, 99.948% of those asked have agreed to round up, and together, they have raised $2,551.96 so far for PeopleForBikes! That’s an awesome statistic! (We agree!)
What are some unique ways that Sunnyside has reached out to new PeopleForBikes supporters?
I don’t think we do anything extra special to reach out to new supporters. What we have done is made PeopleForBikes part of our shop’s culture from the very beginning, so our customers really have no doubt about who and what they are supporting. From the very beginning, we have collected signatures and talked about the purpose behind those signatures. We’ve had the signature forms and buttons and stickers out at every event we’ve ever set a booth up at. We’ve talked alot about PeopleForBikes and I think because it’s just been an ongoing dialogue in our store, our customers don’t think twice about supporting it with the roundup program. They know their money is going to a legitimate cause. We are also very good about communicating the results of their efforts, so there is never any doubt that the money is actually being donated (I announce the totals monthly and run an ongoing tally of overall contributions).
How do you keep your employees excited about PeopleForBikes?
We are fortunate to have employees who genuinely believe in bikes and what PeopleForBikes stands for, so it’s not like we have to go to great lengths to keep them motivated. They want to help. They get just as excited as we do about a 99.948% acceptance rate. They are eager to reach new milestones ($1,000 raised, $3,000 raised, etc.) They want to collect as many signatures as possible. Enthusiasm and passion trickle down from the top?if our employees see that it’s important to us, it’s easy for them to be excited about it, too. It’s extremely basic, but I guess just the simple fact that we measure and track everything keeps them motivated, too.
Do you have any big plans for Sunnyside in 2014?
We are working with a nearby high school to open a new bike campus there, where the local bike coalition will be able to teach Traffic Skills classes starting in May. In addition to the Traffic Skills classes, we’ll be able to develop bicycle education programs for the students and will be able to address drivers in their drivers ed programs. It’s an exciting partnership and the first of its kind here in Central California. We’re using funds from a PeopleForBikes grant to help pay for it, and we are extremely grateful to be able to do this!
I don’t think we do anything special. I think it just boils down to a genuine belief in the power of bikes to positively impact lives and build communities. People see this and it makes it easy for others to jump on board and be excited about it, too!
A big thanks again to Vanessa and her crew over at Sunnyside Bicycles! You can find the PeopleForBikes Retailers near you over at our Get Local map. If your local bike shop isn’t a member but should be, you can encourage them to sign up here.