North Texas Daily

Querencia bike shop is building community

Querencia bike shop is building community

Querencia bike shop is building community
September 11
09:49 2013

Carina Aquino / Staff Writer

Just off the Square, around the corner from Banter Bistro, is a small garage space occupied by Denton bike enthusiasts repairing their eco-friendly machines.

Querencia Community Bike Shop, at 215 W. Oak St. is a nonprofit organization that “offers a place and a space for people in the community to come in and work on their bikes,” Querencia volunteer and manager Karl Gossot said.

The Querencia group originated in 2006 and 2007, but did not become a place for the public to use until years later, former Querencia volunteer Howard Draper said.

“Querencia is a roughly translated Spanish word that means ‘the place where you are your most authentic self,’ as phrased by John Jeremiah Sullivan,” Draper said.

Completely run by volunteers, bike certified mechanics included, this small garage space offers stands, tools and stripped down parts to those interested in working on repairs, making adjustments or simply curious about the basic functions of each bicycle related part.

The volunteers, who carry “various degrees of knowledge on repair and maintenance,” help monitor the shop and assist fellow enthusiasts.

“We always have people on hand who can show people how to do repairs if they don’t know,” Gossot said. “Sometimes people do know and all they want is the space and access to the tools. Sometimes they don’t know and then what we do is we walk them through the repairs and show them how to do it.”

Querencia is free for the general public the first and third Wednesday of every month from 5 to 8 p.m. and every Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m.

For 22-year-old Denton resident Anthony Sawyer, Querencia has become a large part of his life.

“It’s like a home away from home,” Sawyer said. “I found out about it while riding by one day and saw all of these people working on their bikes on the sidewalk. I stopped to check it out and learned more about it. Now I go there whenever I need help or just want to meet up with other people who like to ride.”

Donations keep Querencia afloat, in terms of the building and volunteers. By selling $15 T-shirts, having an open tip jar and negotiating parts for donations, Querencia has managed to assist bike enthusiasts with all of the equipment and knowledge they could possible need.

“We really want to sort of empower people to literally fix their own machines,” Gossot said.

Bikes and parts that are dropped off for donation are either refurbished and sold or just stripped down for parts.

The shop has a set of 10 rules that include tool organization, cleaning up after yourself and prohibited substances.

Though the hours of operation can be a bit constricting, the staff provides enough time for customers to fully complete their work.

“It’s not like, ‘It’s five to five, get the hell out,’” Gossot said. “I mean, the reality is we’re here ‘til we’re done with the last person. So if it’s two to five, I’ll most likely be here ‘til six. If it’s five to eight, we’ll be here until it gets too dark for us to work. Sometimes we’ll be here ‘til nine.”

Starting out as a shy volunteer surrounded by the originating “founding mothers,” Draper quickly began to flourish within the Querencia shop, moving from secretary to chair and so forth. Now that he has moved to Oregon and left the shop, he still sees growth and continuation in the bike shop’s future.

“We’ve all left pieces heart in that shop, on the bikes that we fixed and with the people who visit,” Draper said.

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