For the owners of Switchback Gear Exchange
, located at 2166 Plainfield Ave. NW in the Creston-Cheshire district, the enterprise is as much about building a business as it about building a community.
“We have always tried to use Switchback as a means to improve our community,” says co-owner Rachel Posthumus, who initially started Switchback about five years ago in Marquette, Mich. with her husband Mike until life brought them back down to their hometown of Grand Rapids.
Specializing in second-hand outdoor recreation equipment, Switchback opened its 1,000-square-foot space in May. It has since added an additional 1,000 square feet for a new full-service bicycle repair shop, paying homage to residents who came in to share nostalgia about the Swchinn retailer that used to reside across the street.
“A lot of our sellers were coming in and being nostalgic about buying their family bikes,” Posthumus says. “…we had full leeway to make the space exactly the way we needed it to be, and we just kind of dove in.”
A general contractor by trade, Posthumus says renovations were tailored to their specific vision. The couple restored the original tin ceilings and hardwood floors to bring the space back to life just in time for its Give Gear program, which they established as a way for local residents with extra gear to donate gear on behalf of a nonprofit for two months out of the year.
This month all donations, aside from the small percentage they use for overhead and operational costs, will go directly to nonprofits including Blindfold Nature Center, Grand Rapids Public Museum, West Michigan Humane Society, American Cancer Society, CA Frost Environmental School, and Forest Hills Eastern Middle School, though Switchback is facilitating separate fundraising efforts for the last two schools that run alongside the Give Gear month.
“It’s just been so cool to hear about all of the other things happening down the Plainfield Corridor between us and Leonard St. We are really glad we got to be on the ground floor of all of the redevelopment that is happening,” she says. “…we have seen a huge resurgence of people moving back to our neighborhood and we’re excited to see the positive momentum building and excited by the fact we got to be the early adopters.”
“I am excited that with living here, I will be able to ride my bike or walk to a place I would want to go to on a regular basis. It’s like downtown living outside of downtown,” she says. “I feel very proud of that in terms of participating as a business and having access to all of these cool things as a person who lives here.”
For more information, visit www.goswitchback.com.
Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Switchback Gear Exchange