By Sam Tobin
Donations from as far afield as Spain, Canada and the US helped Brixton Cycles’ crowd funding campaign to help fund a new home reach its initial target of £40,000 in less than a week.
But the campaign to save the workers’ co-operative, which has been open since 1983, continues with a new stretch target of £80,000 to try and cover the costs of their enforced move from south London’s Stockwell Road.
The shop is to make way for a new flat development, with work due to start in January 2016, and the costs of the move are estimated as being as high as £150,000.
Lincoln Romain, the longest-serving member of staff with 26 years’ experience, believes that Brixton Cycles’ unique place in the community is the reason for the overwhelming support they’ve received so far.
“We’ve had some [people donate who] have never cycled, never even been in here, they just like the whole concept of what we do, the whole community side of it,” said Romain.
“There’s a value that people are seeing to keeping this business here,” said Sarah Weir, who has worked at the shop for six years. “There’s something about it, it’s not just a retail space.”
“We’re a piece of Brixton heritage,” said Maggie Zimmerman, who has been there for eight years. “It’s one thing to have the museums but this is something that’s still alive and growing.”
This isn’t the first time the forces of gentrification have forced the shop to move. In 2001, prohibitively high rents meant they had to leave their original premises on Coldharbour Lane.
“[Since the move in 2001] everything’s gone up,” said Kath Roberts, who has worked at Brixton Cycles for 20 years. “We were invited into this space and seen more as a community asset, so we were given a very reasonable rent coming here.”
They are currently looking at potential new sites for the shop, but despite the outpouring of support for Brixton Cycles, there is still a chance that this pillar of the community may disappear for a few months, even for good.
But in the meantime, it’s business as usual at the co-op.
“It has to be,” said Roberts, who has worked there for 20 years. “We haven’t got any reserves. And until we’ve got somewhere that we think we can go to, we have to keep going.”
You can donate to Brixton Cycles’ crowd funding campaign here.