Najari Smith, Co-Founder of Rich City Rides Bike Skate Shop, announced the Mcdonald Avenue bike shop will be closed after a burglary earlier in the month.
Smith said he discovered most of the sales floor had been cleared out after entering the bike shop on January 13.
“The shelves, once stocked with bicycle locks, lights, bells, and other retail products, were bare, and the display cases were empty. There was no sign of forced entry, and the internal cameras had been unplugged,” Smith posted on Facebook. “In a state of shock, I went to the storage area in the back of the shop, I learned that most of the inventory had been stolen.”
The bike store was founded in 2014 and provided a space for free community bicycle repair workshops and events and a starting point for community bicycle rides.
After experiencing one of the shop’s best years during Covid, Smith said the store had trouble maintaining sales, leading to a staggering debt of over $185,000 from prior years.
“After years with a small team of only two or three down from our fantastic founding five and seemingly insurmountable debt, our intention was to liquidate the remaining inventory to pay our debtors and dissolve the cooperative,” Smith wrote on a GoFundme for the store.” I learned a lot on this journey. It’s been quite a ride. I plan on reflecting on what went right and what we could have done better. What I don’t plan on doing is quitting.”
On social media, Smith said the past two years have been horrific, and after losing his mom, he took a break from the shop for almost a year.
“When I returned, everything was different and changed without my input or vote," Smith said.
Insurance at the bike shop had lapsed and was never renewed. “We're going to have to eat this one,” he said.
Police responded to a report of a theft at the bike shop, according to Lt. Donald Patchin, Public Information Officer for the Richmond Police Department.
"The incident was just assigned an investigator to follow up," Patchin said.
The bicycle advocacy organization recently purchased three properties, including the building housing the bike shop, and announced its transformation into a 501c3 nonprofit known as Rich City.
Smith encouraged anyone who knows anything to contact the authorities. Rich City Rides has started a GoFundMe to raise $200,000 to reboot the bike shop.
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