Community rallies around Dorchester bike shop
Looting incident a temporary setback for Uphams Corner business, Spokehouse
Then came a text message from a customer with a photo of the shop’s smashed plate-glass window.
“I didn’t even connect it to looting,” Hicks said. “I just thought we got robbed. I didn’t put two and two together until I started talking to other people.”
In a wave of violence the night of May 31 that kicked off after a peaceful march ended, most of the stores vandalized and looted were in the Downtown Crossing and Copley Square areas, but stores in Uphams Corner, Grove Hall and Fields Corner were also hit.
When Hicks showed up at his shop, the scene was chaotic.
“There were pieces of glass all over the floor,” he said. “Bikes were missing.”
In addition to two bicycles Hicks had for sale, four customers’ bikes had been stolen, adding up to about $2,600 in losses.
Hicks founded the bike shop as a pop-up repair center on Bowdoin Street in 2013.
“I got tired of people having to go outside the community for repairs,” he said. “People kept telling me ‘You gotta open a shop.’”
Initially, Hicks worked out of a two-car garage on Bowdoin Street. He opened a brick-and-mortar location in Codman Square in 2015. He moved the shop into its current space in April of 2018. There he sells new and used bikes, parts and accessories and offers tuneups and repair services.
“We’re very busy,” he said. “People appreciate the fact that we’re there. We do good business.”
As it turns out, customer appreciation goes a long way for Hicks. After he posted a photo of the broken window and glass-strewn floor on social media, customers contacted him to ask whether he was accepting donations.
Hicks responded by posting his Venmo and PayPal identifications.
“It took off from there,” he said.
Within 24 hours, supporters had sent Hicks $10,000.
“I felt the love from the whole community,” he said. “Running a business in the community can be really exhausting. You get the feeling that people appreciate the work you put in, but this was a clear, in-your-face message that people appreciate us.”
Hicks says he only needs the $2,600 to replace the customers’ stolen bikes and those taken from his showroom floor.
“I’ll donate the rest to causes and organizations that foster the betterment of black lives,” he said.
Hicks is no stranger to protests like the ones that kicked off in the wake of a Minneapolis police officer’s killing of George Floyd. He has participated in many. Looting hasn’t happened in Boston on a widespread scale in decades. But Hicks says he understands why it did.
“It’s a fact of life that when you have people living in the conditions most black and brown people live in, you have crime,” he said. “I am sorry I was a victim of that energy, but it strengthens my resolve to fight for equality even more.”