The Recyclery rolls into new Rogers Park home

A community bicycle shop and repair center in Evanston is relocating to a storefront in neighboring Rogers Park, increasing its visibility and access to the public.

Volunteers are helping move The Recyclery to 7628 N. Paulina Street this week. Before the move, the shop's Evanston operations were split between two donated basement spaces at 735 Reba Place and 713 Steward Street.

The move to the new Rogers Park location will give the shop space to sell bikes from the storefront, instead of at remote locations in Evanston and Chicago.

Staff member Sharlyn Grace, 23, hopes a single retail shop and better visibility will make The Recyclery more accessible to the public.

Visitors often have trouble finding the workshop center and mistakenly end up at the administrative office, she says.

The Recyclery receives bike donations from individuals, and repairs them for resale. It also regularly hosts bike building and repair workshops free of charge to anyone who is interested.

The Recyclery operates under a sponsor, RPF Ministries, and is in the process of getting non-profit status.  Only one of its two part-time staff members is paid. The organization relies heavily on the volunteer support of bike enthusiasts.

The cost for a bike at the store ranges between $30 and $100, but the average bike sells for $70.

With the move, Grace says she expects more business to come from walk-by traffic. Currently most people find The Recyclery by word-of-mouth or through its websites and MySpace page, she says.

Volunteer Alex Añón is an avid rider who discovered the The Recyclery this past winter just as discussions on relocating began.

Añón just so happens to be an architect and volunteered to design the store’s layout and benches.

“We are lucky to have Alex,” Grace says. “I have no idea how we would have done it without him.”

Añón, who lives in Evanston with his wife and four young sons, decided 15 years ago to sell the family's car.  The Añóns rely on public transportation, taxis, carpools, walking, and - of course - their bikes.

“People may think it's a radical lifestyle,” Añón says, “but it's possible.”

Before moving to the United States, Añón worked in a bicycle shop in Uruguay. One customer in particular came to his shop twice a month to have the same tire repaired each time.

Añón doesn't know if the man could or couldn't afford new equipment but says repairing and rebuilding perfectly functional things "is a different mindset."

In the United States, someone would have bought a new bike or a least a new tire, Añón says. 

Añón does not know exactly how much his family is saving by not owning a car but he guesses it is a substantial amount.

According to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey, Americans spent an average of $8,758 on vehicle ownership in 2007, including $2,384 elusively for gas and motor oil purchases.

This figure does not include other miscellaneous expenses such as auto insurance or maintenance and repair costs.  Those purchases added about $2,000 more.

On the other hand, the average person spent $538 on public transportation.