Rich City Rides bike shop closes indefinitely in wake of theft

Rich City Rides bike shop closes indefinitely in wake of theft
Rich City Rides Bike Skate Coop Shop. (Photo credit: Kathy Chouteau)

Rich City Rides co-owner Najari Smith announced the indefinite closure of the shop on Macdonald Avenue after he said $10,000 worth of merchandise was recently stolen.

Smith reported in a GoFundMe online that he entered the bike shop at Macdonald Avenue and 15th Street on Saturday, Jan. 13, to discover “most of the sales floor completely cleared out.” Shelves once stocked with bicycle locks, lights, bells and other products were bare and the display cases were empty, he said.

Most of the inventory had been stolen, Smith said. He added there was no sign of forced entry.

“The only way this could have been done is with access to a key and the ability to disarm the alarm system,” Smith said.

The theft came only three days after Smith drafted a plan to dissolve the cooperative bike and skate shop “following ongoing hardships with maintaining the business.” Despite experiencing one of the shop’s best sales years during COVID, post-COVID sales have been difficult to maintain, he said. The shop now has $185,000 debt accrued from prior years, including $58,580 in debt resulting from an incident with a co-owner, Smith added.

Prior to the recent theft, Rich City Rides intended to liquidate its remaining inventory to pay its debtors and dissolve the cooperative, Smith said.

Rich City Rides let its insurance lapse, so the organization was not covered for stolen items at the time of the theft, he added.

Smith launched a GoFundMe seeking to raise $200,000 with the aim of rebooting the shop. After its inception a decade ago, Rich City Rides grew into the city’s top cycling advocacy organization, supplying free bikes, bike repair and other services to low-income community members.

“I learned a lot on this journey. It’s been quite a ride,” Smith said. “I plan on reflecting on what went right and what we could have done better. What I don’t plan on doing is quitting.”

To contribute to the GoFundMe, go here.