Bikes for the World

Monday, July 1, 2013

We Did It!

In the past four weeks Bikes for the World handled close to 10,000 bikes. It wasn't so long ago when 10,000 bikes was an entire year's work! But I did say handled, which includes shipping as well as receiving. So basically in less than a month we filled up a warehouse then emptied it back out again. Really.

 You may recall how excited we were to move into our new location more centrally located in Arlington. We had big plans. More volunteers, another volunteer day, dual shipments....We loved the idea of having electric and restrooms. We'd be Metro accessible. We had a covered dock and multiple doors...

We took possession of the facility in late April and immediately started bringing collection bikes into this warehouse. In fact our Operations Manager, Nick Colombo loved driving right into our storage location so much, he began bringing ALL of our bikes here, even the ones from Maryland (which would normally go to King Farm).

This new warehouse was going to make this year's DICK'S Sporting Goods promotion run as smoothly as a high performance track bike! We were expecting over 5,000 bikes from the national retailer and we were ready.

We hired a part time staff. Devised a busy but reliable weekly unload schedule and in turn a comfortable, nicely paced shipping schedule. We put out the call for volunteers and started scheduling corporate groups to help us load.

And the bikes came pouring in, as we predicted. In just two weeks, our warehouse was filling up fast. We had decided not to ship earlier in the month to focus on bringing in, unloading, and processing bikes. In hindsight, this might have been a mistake.

What that meant was, we expected over 6,000 bikes in this location alone, counting the local collections in addition to the nationally collected DICK'S bikes. No problem, we had this warehouse until at least the end of July, probably longer.

May 31, 2013.
This is when we got the call. Even though we anticipated a late summer move, our lease with Vornado was month to month. And there was movement on the property. The grocery store chain moving into this location wanted to be in by 2015 and they still had to tear down the old BMW place we called home for a month.
We had to move. 3,000 bikes. In a month.

Luckily the warehouse right next store was empty and Vornado offered it to us as an alternative. We stopped bringing bikes into 1200 S Eads immediately and for the next three weeks we brought the remaining DICK'S bikes into the adjacent warehouse 1420. We also diverted two trucks to Chicago's Working Bikes and St. Louis Bicycle Works...there was plenty to go around.

This would ease our stress to ship in July because we would have the use of this new location through the end of the year. But we had 4,500 bikes sitting next door and they had to be gone by July 1st. Time to rework the shipping schedule!

We started June 14-15 with a container for Barbados. The corporate group from PBS did such a great job loading it we actually had to cancel the group coming the next day because we didn't have enough left to do. This made us rethink the rest of the schedule.

The following week we scheduled THREE containers in ONE week. The next, FOUR! We invited PBS back and they didn't disappoint. The group from GMU/US State Department (seen left) finished the first of the last four containers and started another one at the same time for Kenya. Then we did another Kenya and finished up with one heading to El Salvador.

The bottom line is we had an impossible job to complete...and we did it! We moved a ton of bikes in those last two weeks of June. Over 50% of the bikes we've donated so far this year have been shipped from this 1200 S Eads warehouse. 4,637 bikes total. Besides one container for Costa Rica that was loaded in May with 506 bikes, we did it all in the month of June. Over half the bikes we've shipped this year (8,013) happened in the last two weeks of June 2013. Monumental to say the least!

Somebody call Guinness, if it's not a world record it's at least worthy of a toast! My Goodness. Brilliant!

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