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Alameda Bicycle celebrates 40 with fundraiser, party

Submitted by on 1, October 23, 2009 – 5:50 amNo Comment

repair40Gene Oh never planned to run the family business. But he has become somewhat of an evangelist for his family’s shop, Alameda Bicycle, and the array of social benefits it provides.

This weekend is the shop’s 40th birthday, and Oh is commemorating it with a two-day party – and a fundraiser for Alameda’s PTA Council.

“This was something that was important to us because the schools are being cut again,” Oh said when I caught up with him Thursday.

So he’s donating all of his profits to the PTA Council Friday, and hosting a benefit barbecue to boot. Friday’s event, which begins at 3 p.m., includes a jumper for the kids, a free barbecue (donations will be accepted) and a stunt show from professional cyclist Jeff Lenosky.

The party continues at noon on Saturday with a stunt show and benefit barbecue, with a Lenosky-led mountain bike ride from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. (They’ll have giveaways Saturday too.)

Oh has worked for the shop, which sits on the site of a former gas station, since his family bought it, in 1987. But he had grander plans when he went to business school at the University at California, Berkeley.

“As a child of a small business-owning parent, you vow never to take over the family business,” Oh joked.

But a consulting job Oh got was enough to convince him he didn’t want to spend his life in a cubicle farm. So he opted for a change of plans that featured a more intimate setting and, as anyone who’s ever been to his shop can attest, a crew of folks who are really passionate about their product.

He has run the shop for eight years, during which time he’s expanded it to include a new, Oakland location (opened in 2004) and bicycle parking at three BART stations.

Oh sees his business as a social enterprise of sorts, and his main product – the bicycle – as a tool that has empowered an array of formerly disenfranchised groups. And as people focus on the damage the automobile is causing to our environment, it’s enjoying a resurgence.

The shop also runs an array of socially conscious programs that include a trade-in program that sends bikes to the Cycles of Change shop at the Alameda Point Collaborative; Books for Bikes, a reading program at Alameda’s public elementary schools that culminates in a raffle for new bikes and helmets; and a blanket policy that the shop has to donate to nonprofit organizations and schools doing fundraisers.

“Anyone who needs help with their fundraiser, we want to help them out,” Oh said.

Alameda Bicycle is at 1522 Park Street, and their phone number is 522-0070. The party will be along Webb Street, right out front.

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