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Whistler bike mechanic snags Small Business B.C. award

Now James Barrett is looking for a place to locate his business

By Andrew Mitchell

A plan to offer specialty bicycle repair and other bike-related services in Whistler beat out 160 other proposals for grant funding through a Small Business B.C. business plan contest.

James Barrett’s plan, The Fix Bicycle Products and Repair, was selected by a panel of eight judges at Small Business B.C. He will receive approximately $2,500 in cash towards his business, as well as another $2,500 in prizes, including a laptop, accountant services, and other items donated by sponsors.

As well, Barrett is a client of Community Futures Development Corporation for Howe Sound, which has been helping to support the project by extending employment insurance for Barrett while he worked on his business plan.

If he finds a space in Whistler, Barrett is hoping to open by March, at the latest.

The core of his business will be specialty bike repair. After taking a course at BCIT on design software and milling, Barrett has ordered a vertical milling machine which he will use to make specialized bike components and repair broken bikes. As well, he plans to offer a bike storage service for weekend visitors, bike repair, and bike building/rebuilding for people who order new bikes or have their bikes broken down and shipped to Whistler before a visit.

“Basically I used to work in the village as a bike mechanic, I’ve been a bike mechanic for 15 years, and I was laid off last Christmas (2005) when things were a little slow,” said Barrett. “Instead of sitting around and waiting to get called I decided to really take the bit between my teeth and turn my business plan into something worth reading.”

So far the biggest obstacle for Barrett has been finding a place to set up shop. As a new business owner he will need a licensed inspection of whatever premise he leases, and landlords want to charge him for putting in a disabled accessible washroom and other amenities that have been added to the inspection criteria. Still, he’s confident he can get his business up and running by the spring.

Barrett credits Community Futures and BCIT for helping to get his business plan in shape to win the Small Business B.C. award.

“They’ve been really excellent, I don’t think I could have gotten this without their help,” he said.