• Adam Rogan
  • Mon April 25 2016
  • Posted Apr 25, 2016

On the corner of Grand Avenue and Sixth Street stands the Des Moines Bicycle Collective. Both on the outside and the inside, it appears to be no different from other bike shops. Aerosmith and similar classic rock tunes blare from the speakers as workers tend to tuning up bikes in the back. Replacement bike seats, helmets and other assorted bike accessories line the wall and top of the front desk. Bikes for sale take up most of the floor space, ranging from child-sized to road models and everything in-between.

But appearances can be deceiving. That’s an idiom that the Collective has been battling since its founding in 2008 through business practices that are perhaps best described as “atypical.”

All proceeds go directly back into the business itself and its numerous philanthropies – not into the pockets of owners or shareholders.

In 2015 alone, the Collective gave away 400 bikes free of charge through organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Head Start, The Salvation Army and its own charities.

“A lot of people can’t afford cars … but they still need to get to work, so a bike is a very good option,” said Seth Johnson, the Collective’s shop manager. “Through our Earn-a-Bike program and our bike giveaways program, we make transportation access a little bit easier. We work with a lot of (the) homeless population, and we help them get their lives back on track, teaching them that they can earn a bike if they work hard and do their job.”


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