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How a shop is organized can help make it more accessible to new visitors and volunteers. A well organized shop also takes less effort to maintain, and helps reduce the amount of time spent searching for appropriate parts.
This page is an attempt at documenting the ideas, devices, and systems used by different bike projects to keep their shops organized and accessible.
Set your priorities with the 3-B's:
- Blue prints
Do what you do best - hire the rest. If you can't hire anyone, chances are you have a skilled volunteer you should get to know better.
Take Your Time
We can't always afford to do everything at once. Create a timeline and break the project into smaller pieces and do that as you have time and as you can afford to do them. Saw dust also shows customers and donors that there is constant change and growth.
It is important to maintain your customer service through the everything. Have a BBQ, bring your tools to a local park, provide construction photos on Facebook. All this ensures that the public sees that things are moving along, racing along, rather than being stagnant.
- Traffic Flow: retail stores intentionally arrange things to make the customer walk by more things and spend more time in the store. You don't have to be evil about it, but you should still do this to avoid having people walking by expensive tools and also have them funnel past more information about your organization.
- Fixtures: These are what you hang things you are selling or giving away on. Try to get old ones donated from Local Bike Shops. Consider them an investment not an expense.
- Color: Paint the place with color tones that represent how you want the place to feel. Murals are great too, there is probably a graffiti artist in your area and/or someone that needs to fullfill some community service hours.
Ideas to help keep things organized
For ideas on the general layout of of your workspace, see Shop Layout
- Tool storage
- Part Storage
- Bicycle part illustrations help volunteers find and sort parts and learn the proper names for parts.
Free Ride and the Davis Bike Collective use a wheel sorter to help new volunteers figure out the sizes of different rims. Two 2x4's are mounted to a rigid backing to form a V shape. Smaller wheels can rest lower in the V than larger wheels. The sorter is calibrated by placing various wheels of known size in the V and marking where the axles touch the backing. When a wheel of unknown size is placed in the sorter its axel should lie very close to one of these marks.
Color Coded Bike
Free Ride has a bike mounted near the ceiling of the shop. The major systems of the bike are spray painted different bright colors. Cabinets, drawers, tool drawers, and just about anything else we could think of are marked with matching colors. This makes it easy for volunteers to figure out what drawer to look in for the part they need.