Venture North Bike & Coffee Shop
1830 Glenwood Av., Mpls; 612-377-3029; www.facebook.com/venturenorthbwc
North Minneapolis hasn’t had its own bike shop in a “really, really, really long time,” said Casey Pavek, general manager of Venture North Bike & Coffee Shop. This full-service bike shop and youth development program opened on the north side in 2011, providing hands-on training to neighborhood kids while filling an important hole in the local retail mix. Founded by Redeemer Center for Life, a stalwart nonprofit in the Harrison Neighborhood, Venture North provides neighborhood kids with hands-on training in bike maintenance and repair while improving access to bicycles. Venture North graduates about 16 apprentice bike mechanics every year, with 50 kids completing the shop’s popular annual Earn-a-Bike program. For adult bike-lovers, Venture North has everything you expect from a neighborhood bike shop: a staff of professional bike mechanics, full-service maintenance, custom build-outs and a showroom packed with cool bikes (Venture North specializes in affordable secondhand varieties). Plus, the shop is outfitted with an espresso bar serving excellent lattes and Peace Coffee.
Q: Why is your work important?
A: My work is important because it gets the blood moving. I have the pleasure of riding my bike into work everyday. That experience starts your day right, kind of like having a really good breakfast. Having the ability to share that experience with other people is amazing. And I just really, really love all kinds of bikes. Running an operation that up-cycles a durable good like a bicycle is a pretty rewarding thing.
Q: What is the organization’s biggest accomplishment?
A: That’s tough because we’re an organization within an organization. Redeemer [Center for Life] works on jobs, youth engagement and housing, so I guess we’re hitting two of the three with Venture North. Probably the biggest accomplishment concerns the overall block, just being here, next to the church, and creating a friendlier block. If there’s no bike shop in your area, you probably don’t own a bike. Just like if you don’t have a grocery store you don’t have access to healthy food.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you face?
A: The biggest challenge is fine tuning how we do what we do. We’re such a small organization, but we want to run it efficiently as possible. It’s working on simple things like how we receive bikes — how do we organize them and determine their fate? Sometimes you go into a bike shop and you see a big pile of bikes next to the front door. But in our case, we want to create a consistent environment for kids. They should come in and know exactly what to expect from us.
Q: How can people get involved?
A: We operate entirely on bike donations — and cash donations, too. We just ran a donation drive, so we have a big selection of bikes right now, but we could always use more. We like old adult bikes, old Fujis. We’ll take anything and put it to good use. But honestly, our biggest need right now is space. So if you know someone on Glenwood Avenue with some extra space, that would be awesome. And people can get involved just by being customers. They can pick up everything from locks to lights here. We have a professional shop with 20 years of combined experience. And your bike will, in some way or another, serve as a teaching tool for a young person. □