Swap your bike for a new set of wheels

By Becky Holt
On April 10, 2012

It's only four  years old, but it has quietly become one of the Seacoast's most anticipated April events. The Seacoast Bike Swap, hosted by Papa Wheelies on Islington Street in Portsmouth, will take place this Sunday from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Held rain or shine, this five-hour event allows Seacoast residents to sell their old bikes, receive a store credit toward store merchandise or service, and contribute to a number of charitable causes.

This year's swap will be led by Papa Wheelies Manager Josh Pierce.

"Four years ago, with the recession really hitting home, we wanted to help folks unload their pre-owned bikes," Pierce said. "We never thought it would grow this quickly. If you have an older bike, just bring it to us by Saturday, April 14, in advance of this year's Swap on April 15.  We'll check it out and make sure it's safe to ride, and if it is, we help you put a price tag on it, and make it available during the swap."

Pierce added that if the bike does not sell, you can take it home or they can donate the bike to the St. Charles Rochester House (an orphanage in Rochester which supports children age 3 - 12), or to Bikes Not Bombs (a non-profit which donates bikes to economic development projects in developing nations).

If the bike sells, the donor receives either 80 percent in cash, or 100 percent in store credit toward the purchase of anything in the store - including new bikes, clothing or gear - or toward bike service and repair.

Leading up to the bike swap, Papa Wheelies receives hundreds of pre-owned bikes, making the event a tremendous opportunity for cyclists of all ages.

"We get everything from kids' bikes to performance bikes, and our staff helps to match folks to appropriate bikes," Pierce said. "It's a win-win for everybody. If your kids have outgrown their bikes, or if you're looking to upgrade from an older bike to something newer at a terrific price, this is your chance."

And if you are looking for a new bike, Papa Wheelies is holding the Great American Bike Fest sale running from Saturday, April 7, to Tuesday, April 24. Papa Wheelies stages a sale on everything in the store and they donate a portion of that day's revenue to Seacoast Area Bicycle Routes, a local non-profit advocacy group for Seacoast and southern Maine cyclists.

To make further inroads into the region's outdoors crowd, Papa Wheelies has joined the Green Alliance, a union of nearly 100 green businesses in New Hampshire, southern Maine and northern Massachusetts, and 3,000-plus green-minded consumer members. Green Alliance members receive a bounty of discounts at the shop, including savings on the purchase of new bicycles, accessories, clothing, tune-ups, and free installation of bike accessories.

Sarah Brown of the Green Alliance attends the bike swap every year.

"I am so excited for this year's swap," Brown said. "My family went last year and we found lots of great things. We also know that many of our Green Alliance cardholders attend the swap and come away with some great biking deals."

The bike swap's event has surpassed even Pierce's high expectations.

"On the day of the Swap, people start lining up in the adjacent Ricci's Lumber parking lot at 9 a.m.," he said. "It just goes to show that the Seacoast area loves cycling and the vibe of this event."


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