JOHNSTOWN, CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — There is a bike shop in downtown Johnstown that is not just selling bikes, but helping others.
“I think that bikes are a vehicle of hope,” Jarrod Bunk, founder and co-owner of Hope Cyclery, said. “Hope Cyclery is not defined by our brick and mortar walls.”
Hope Cyclery opened in 2019. It is a shop for bicycle sales, custom builds, accessories, and repairs. However, when you look beyond the structure you’ll find the true mission of the business.
“We care about the community we exist in,” Bunk explained. “We’re not just here to take from you. We’re here to give back. And yeah, we’re a bike shop, but that’s not our identity. That is how we can harbor community and change this place.”
Bunk sees the magic in a bike.
“For whatever reason you always remember and you can simply recall your moment on a bicycle for the first time,” Bunk said.
For him, riding has always been his freedom. He used it as his escape growing up.
“I grew up with terrible depression and ADHD and it was one of the few times that my mind could stop racing,” Bunk said. “It was a way to kind of remove myself and get into the forest and kind of come to some sanity.”
Riding is also where he said he felt like he was enough. He explained that he discovered this in the middle of the night while on a 100-mile bike ride.
“Like knowing these are things that can happen on a bike, why the hell are we not telling everyone to go ride a bike,” he expressed.
With a vision to show others how a bike can transform lives, Bunk and his co-owner David Lane, operate the shop to bring bicycles back to the city.
“A lot of people still kind of view it as a toy,” Lane said. “Which it can be, but it can be a lot more than that to someone who really needs it.”
The duo will be the first to tell you that a bike is more than just recreation. They’re equitable transportation, your moment of solace and can change communities.
Bunk said one of the primary reasons he founded the shop was to fix bikes and give them back to kids in need. He does this through the shop’s annual holiday drive, which is an initiative that continues to this day.
Bunk calls it retail with a purpose and knows he could’ve put his shop in any big biking city, but he chose Johnstown for a reason.
“If it was just based upon financial success, I think we would look at this a lot differently,” Bunk explained. “But it has never been about that. I can’t make it about that because then we lose the vision of who we are.”
The shop hosts things like Cranksgiving, where they ride around collecting canned goods for families in need during the holidays. Last year they gathered 752lbs, which is their largest haul yet.
They also clean up local rail trails and organize bike rides. They even have an event called Higher Ground, where people from all over come to the area to ride. The goal is to show what the community has to offer.
“When you tend to appreciate mother nature and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us, your mind has to change, which also bleeds into other things,” Bunk said. “So then you become more friendly to folks, you become more inviting, you become more open, and it’s a pretty freeing experience.”
Bunk knows first-hand that from the seat of a bicycle, your life can change.
“We’re way more than a bike shop and I don’t want to be one,” Bunk said. “Like if I wanted to be a bike shop, I would be a bike shop, but then I think we would be pretty boring.”
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This is why the shop’s identity is independent of the structure, showing us that when we go beyond the surface we can all find a little hope.
Reach out to Maggie Smolka if you know someone or an organization that’s making it matter in the community. You can email email@example.com or message her on Facebook.