Bikers looking to get their bikes fixed on campus no longer have to find their way around the Rice Memorial Center, as Rice Bikes is officially moving to the Housing and Dining garage starting Friday, Jan. 13.
The new store space, located near the Baker College master’s house and across the inner loop from Herring Hall, features increased wall space and custom-made furniture, according to General Manager Lydia Dick. It is double the size of the old store and will house 26 mechanics, 13 of whom were freshly hired and trained in the fall.
“We have been working hard to ensure that the new floor plan and the new design of our shop is conducive to the work flow and the flow that we want for our customers,” Dick, a Martel College junior, said.
Former General Manager Madeleine Pelzel, who initiated the relocation project as soon as she came into her term in December 2015, said the old space limited Rice Bikes’ ability to grow as a business. As a consequence of the narrow indoor space and the inability to work on rainy days, they have had to turn away customers. More importantly, she said, the business was not able to think big.
“We couldn’t really think about more hours or an expansion or more people because the space was the limiting factor,” Pelzel, a Lovett College junior, said.
This will be the business’ second relocation in its three-year history. In 2014, the bike service then known as Rice Bike Shop moved from the basement of Sid Richardson College to the RMC when it merged with Rice Rental Programs to become Rice Bikes. Brown College senior Brian Barr, the first general manager who oversaw the move, said he expects the move to attract more business like the first move did. He also said he is glad a partnership with H&D is in place to support the growth.
“I’m really excited about the new location, not only because of the increase in space available for us, but because of the partnership with Housing and Dining and their commitment to support student-run businesses moving forwards,” Barr said.
According to Student Center Director Kate Abad, who oversees student run businesses, the Student Center will continue to advise and support Rice Bikes even though they are no longer in the physical Student Center building.
“For the Student Center the Rice Bikes move is bittersweet,” Abad said. “We are thrilled they now have the space they need to grow and expand, but we are sad not to have all three of our businesses in the building.”
The Student Center is still deciding how the vacated space in the RMC will be utilized and hopes to have a better idea by mid-February, Abad said.