Well Built Bikes at Tampa's University Mall helps homeless earn a bicycle through community service

TAMPA, Fla. -- There is a brand-new store in Tampa’s University Mall. The shop is filled with neat bikes for sale, cool-looking employees and even a Red Bull machine.

But look closer at Well Built Bikes and you will find a unique business plan.

“Every dollar spent in this shop is poured back into making sure people get transportation who don’t have the funds to do so,” says Jon Dengler, whose background is in social work not bicycles.

You can buy used and re-fortified bikes at Well Built. Even pretty vintage Schwinns. Almost all at big discount off the regular price.

But where Well Built is different is if you cannot afford a new bicycle (which can cost hundreds of dollars) and need transportation to get to a job or food or shelter, the store will let you “earn-a-bike” by doing community service. Ten hours is the minimum.

“It’s a glorified bake sale,” says Dengler. “This is how we raise money to put back into our initiative.”

Twenty-five percent of homeless people say lack of transportation is the number one barrier to finding employment.

“Transportation opens up the city, opens up the economy, opens up opportunities,” Dengler adds.

The shop relies on donated bikes. It is an offshoot of The Well, a community outreach program in Tampa.

There is also a community work station at Well Built. For $5 an hour, you can work on your bike using their tools and their expertise.

If you would like to donate a used bike, buy one or apply to earn one, visit bikeshoptampa.com.

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