A black man kneeling next to a bike and holding a bike pump with another man bent over the bike

Rich City Rides Bike Shop Closed Indefinitely

A black man kneeling next to a bike and holding a bike pump with another man bent over the bike

Najari Smith, left, helping a customer at the Rich City Rides Bike Skate Shop several years ago. (CC Pulse file photo)

By Joe Porrello

Rich City Rides’ bike shop has closed its doors for business after all of its merchandise, totaling thousands of dollars in value, was allegedly stolen from the premises on Jan. 13.

There are no other non-specialty bicycle stores with bikes affordable to the general public in Richmond, the closest being in El Sobrante.

The Bike Skate Shop sold refurbished bikes for all ages and accessories, offered repairs, and even had a program enabling kids aged 8-16 to work there for 25 hours to earn their own bicycle.

“Having a bike shop is important to the community. Those aren’t my words; that’s what I hear,” said shop co-owner Najari Smith. “(Rich City Rides) was a staple in the community.”

Smith founded the worked-owned cooperative shop with three others in 2014 as an extension of the Rich City Rides nonprofit organization he began a year prior, which helps engage the community partly by hosting local activities or helping launch bike clubs in nearby schools.

“I would ask that people who supported the bike shop continue to support the nonprofit Rich City Rides,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of really cool stuff happening, and I don’t want that to get overshadowed.”

Currently, there is cloudiness regarding exactly what happened at the Bike Skate Shop on that mid-January day. Smith said on Facebook that there were no signs of forced entry and the security system had been disarmed. 

Richmond Police had yet to determine if a crime was committed as of Thursday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. There has been a back-and-forth between Smith and co-owner Felonte Roshni McGee, with each placing blame on the other and denying any involvement. McGee told the Chronicle, “There was no break-in at the shop.” He also said the shop was doing well and that his business partner had not been there at all in 2023, which Smith confirmed and said was due to family matters.

Smith, however, denied Rich City Rides was doing well and said he had drafted a plan to dissolve the shop three days before the merchandise went missing. 

“There were a lot of things that weren’t going right with the shop, especially the last two years,” he said.

The Bike Skate shop did not have insurance for its $13,000 worth of products.

Since closing, Smith said he has received many phone calls from people expressing sympathy and wondering if and when the shop will be back.

“I don’t have any intention of never having a shop return,” he said. “I would like people to look at this like a hibernation period.” 

Smith added that he looks forward to making the next iteration of the Rich City Rides co-op better and stronger than ever.

“I’m devastated by the events that happened at the bike shop, but I can’t let that dim my light so much that I don’t see the future possibilities,” he said.

The building at 1500 Macdonald Ave. where the Bike Skate Shop did business was just purchased by Rich City Rides, and Smith says it will begin a community engagement process to get feedback on what future facilities will be there.

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