My name is Greg Milefsky, I am the owner of Balance Bicycle Shop. On May 30, we were the victims of vandalism and complete and total looting as a result of the riots on Broad St., the stretch of Broad St. where my shop is located. Our entire inventory was looted to include all but one of our customers bikes that were in for service (no, it's not your bike. The owner has been notified.) This includes every single wheel and small item that was brought in for service.
Before going a sentence further, I must say that on May 30, 2020 I was able to come home to my kids. They came into my bed with me as I laid awake. My sister came to my house just to provide support. George Floyd would never see his kids again and his sister again. And I can't even think about this without crying. He never went home and I did. I need a moment of silence.
I have been overwhelmed with support, which is amazing. Many people have offered financial support, so I made this is the GoFundMe for Balance Bicycle Shop. But don't donate to me, GoFund George Floyd and his family instead. I went home to my family and he didn't.
But, if you still want to give to Balance Bicycle Shop, know I am truly grateful. I am actually overwhelmed by emails, text messages, DMs, right now. The generosity of people who I know and love already and the cycling community in Richmond would be enough. But there is an additional outpouring of support from people who I don't know, who I have never met, who have never been in my shop, and who don't even live in Virginia. All of it is humbling.
I want give a rough guidelines for what I plan do use your donations for, and the ways your donations will be used to help rebuild Balance Bicycle Shop.
10% will go to Richmond Cycling Corps. They do amazing work with at risk youth in Richmond, using cycling as the tool to break down the barriers. There is nothing more that I can say that hasn't been said or done through their work. https://www.richmondcyclingcorps.org/
Phase 1 rebuilding will start with making my existing customers who have lost their bikes in the looting whole again. Going forward, I am working with our insurance to cover customer's losses. This will take time as we get all the relevant and necessary documents. I hope to build a fund to make my customers whole and repay their loses quicker than insurance. This is Phase 1 in rebuilding, making sure my existing customers are taken care of.
Phase 2 rebuilding will be to pay my employees who have no jobs now. My employees are unemployed as a result of the looting. Some of my employees have been with me for years. There is no set length of time for which I want to be able to pay them, but anything will help in a time like this.
Next is Phase 3a or Phase 3b. These are speculative because they exist many months into the future. Only one scenario will prevail, and I don't know which one it will be.
Phase 3a is actual rebuilding; inventory, cabinets, computers, fixtures, etc. Financially, this will largely be taken care of by insurance. It will take time, effort, man-hours and it will be a fraction of the actual loss in dollar amounts and time. I expect this insurance claim will take 12-18mo.
We will not reopen in Richmond City. I can't rebuild in Richmond City. Justifiable rising tensions makes it impossible to rebuild in Richmond City. Police brutality and racism is not going anywhere and the escalating violence and tension in the city make it no longer viable for businesses. Maybe I can rebuild once, but impossible twice. It absolutely pains me to say, but the next murder of an unarmed black person is guaranteed, we just don't know who it is yet. I can't spend the next 6 months of my life rebuilding my business only to get looted again for something I have absolutely no control over.
Phase 3b is the end of Balance Bicycle Shop. What happened, the looting, is not just a break-in where we lost a few bikes and otherwise able to resume business in a day or two. This is the complete gutting of my businesses inventory, tools, which we truly can't restock because of supply chain shortages. There is nothing left. We can't resume normal business before the money runs out. UPDATE: This option was always a last resort but I wanted to be clear it was possible before money was donated. Based on the response I've gotten from GoFundMe and through other channels, this is not an option. Rebuilding Balance Bicycle Shop will be the way forward.