Mitch Marrison, PeopleForBikes retail program coordinator
In almost any town or city, bike shops are the hub of the bicycling community. They are the hub of the PeopleForBikes community, too. We have more than 1,000 retailer members spreading the word about PeopleForBikes, bringing new riders into the movement and collecting donations to help fund our Community Grants program.
Each month we showcase one of our retailer members who is going above and beyond to help improve bicycling in their own community. Last month we turned our blog over to our friends at The Bike Lane in Reston and Springfield, VA. This month, we spoke with James Moore at Moore’s Bike Shop in Hattiesburg, MS about his shop and his recent visit from U.S. Senator Thad Cochran.
Tell us about the history of Moore’s Bicycle Shop
After six years of teaching third grade music, in 1984 I opened Moore’s Bike shop in Hattiesburg, MS. As with most start-ups, it was a one-man shop with some donated labor from my dad who had just retired. We had a few new bikes but mostly did repairs and sold refurbished bikes.
What does the shop look like today?
Moore’s currently has five full time and two part time employees. We own our property and we have a tenth-of-a-mile paved test track adjacent to our store.
How is Moore’s Bicycle Shop involved in the local community?
Thanks to a shop culture made up of mature employees (all young in age but mature in mentality) I have the luxury of being out of the shop much of the week working on community projects. I’m a past president of Bike Walk Mississippi and currently serve as Vice President of Southern Pine’s Animal Shelter. I also oversee Second Chance Thrift Store, a resale operation that directly benefits the animal shelter. My most recent project is serving on the board of See Spot Run, a local group of volunteers who formed a non-profit to build the community’s first dog park. We’re about halfway to our goal of raising $150,000 to buy the land and construct the dog park. On the national level, I’m currently serving as president of the National Bicycle Dealers Association.
With the help of PeopleForBikes, you recently hosted U.S. Senator Thad Cochran at your shop. How would you describe the events of that visit?
It was a privilege to host Senator Cochran at our store. It was less than two years ago when Senator Cochran played a pivotal role in saving the federal funding for bike and pedestrian projects. The staff and I were pleased to be able to personally thank him for his leadership and to present him a campaign check on behalf of BikesPAC. Even the off-duty employees came in for the visit to meet the senator and have their picture taken with him. Each staff member had a few minutes with Senator Cochran where they shared the importance of the role their job plays in their life?a job that is a direct result of Longleaf Trace Rail Trail, built in the mid-90s with federal assistance.
U.S. Senator Thad Cochran and James Moore
What was the reaction like from your customers and employees?
The customers were surprised to see a high-ranking U.S. senator drop by for a visit. As we introduced customers to the senator, we made it clear that his past support of federal funding for biking and pedestrian projects was critical to local projects like the Longleaf Trace.
Have there been any noticeable after effects of this event?
Following the store visit, I also attended a reception for the senator where I was able to network with other community leaders. They were not aware of Senator Cochran’s support of the bicycling community and how his involvement directly impacted local bicycling projects currently underway. Now they are.
Would you consider hosting another politician in your shop?
Do you have one day that stands out as the most memorable at your shop?
My daughter, Jenny, has been my manager for the past several years. My son, Jeff, currently works with me while he completes an associate degree at the local junior college. One Saturday the staff was composed of Jenny, Jeff and myself. It was the only day in my shop’s 30-year history that all the staff was made up of my immediate family. We had a great day working together.
Jenny, James and Jeff in the shop together
What do you have planned for 2015?
More community involvement projects are constantly finding me. This evening I’m traveling to Long Beach, MS to speak to a group attempting to build a biking trail that goes through the heart of their community and will connect several public facilities. Thanks to a well-functioning staff, I’m able to follow the community projects and assist as I’m able.
Anything else you’d like to add?
In the South, there’s a phrase the Baptist preacher likes to use just before he passes the collection plate. He reminds the congregation that no matter how hard they try, they can never outgive God. I’d modify that slightly to say that no matter how hard a small business owner tries, he can never outgive his (or her) community. The more I invest in my community, the more my community invests in my business.
A big thanks to James and the rest of the crew at Moore’s Bike Shop for their continued support!