David Spaulding loves riding bicycles. He has for as long as he can remember.
As a kid growing up in Twin Falls, Idaho, “one of the best things was being able to finally ride up to the grocery store and get Hubba Bubba and read comic books that I wasn’t allowed to read (at home),” he said.
His bike meant independence. It meant a measure of freedom. It meant fun.
Decades later, Spaulding is doing his best to spread his love of bicycles in the Tri-Cities.
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He owns Liberation Bike Shop in downtown Kennewick, a retail store that’s converting into a nonprofit community bike shop and co-op next year.
Called Wheelhouse Community Bike Shop, it’ll be a hub of information and education — a place where people can work on their bikes, attend classes, join group rides, hang out, and enjoy the community.
“We want to be how Sharehouse was for music and coffee, but we’ll be around a bicycle,” Spaulding said.
“We go from a point of focusing on selling bikes to educating people about bicycles and how they can help our community as it grows,” he said.
A fundraising campaign is under way, with discounted annual memberships and T-shirts on sale. There’s more information about the campaign at tinyurl.com/wheelhousebike.
The conversion to a nonprofit co-op doesn’t only mean a shift in mission — Liberation will reopen as Wheelhouse in January in a new downtown location, at 218 W. Kennewick Ave., next to the former Music Machine.
Aaron Piper, owner of Separating Eternity Productions in Richland, is president of the Wheelhouse board, and he’s excited about the concept.
“It’s not about trying to sell a product, it’s about trying to create community and improve the community,” he said.
Piper said the community bike shop will give more people a chance to make cycling a part of their life.
There are benefits to doing so — it’s cheaper than car travel, healthy and fun, he said.
“The way our communities are set up, biking around here is fairly easy,” said Piper, who recently traded in his car for a bike. “Whatever your skill level is, you can make it part of your life.”
Wheelhouse will serve everyone from avid cyclists to novices. And it’s not meant to compete with retail bike shops in the area, but rather help them by enhancing local bike culture, Spaulding said.
The Idaho native has lived in the Tri-Cities for several years. He started Liberation in 2015 with rentals out of Columbia Point, and then opened the storefront on West First Avenue in early 2016.
Getting into the bike shop business was his way of doing some good locally, he said. The conversion from Liberation to Wheelhouse is a continuation.
“I want to have a positive impact on the community,” he said. “The bicycle is an amazing device for investing in the community.”
Wheelhouse will be the only nonprofit community bike shop in the area.
Right now, annual basic memberships are $35 and patron memberships are $55. Other membership options are available.
Spaulding said the venture needs volunteers.
How to get involved
A fundraising campaign is under way, with discounted annual memberships and T-shirts on sale. Get more information at tinyurl.com/wheelhousebike.