By Laura Warner
Photos by Tammy Thorne
The first floor showroom of a financial institution may not be where you would expect to find a makeshift bicycle shop. Yet, if you happened to be strolling around Yonge and Shuter Street this past May – just across from the Eaton Centre – you would have seen the main floor of ING Direct’s new Network Orange Café in downtown Toronto overrun with two wheeled transportation. A shiny new bicycle oasis amongst the hustle of downtown.
The reason behind this “pop up bike shop,” as an employee from ING Direct described it, was their Friends of Savers project. The program supports local economic development by uniting community and entrepreneurship. Each month ING Direct partners with a Toronto business to showcase their products. These products are promoted in the café, on the first floor, while the second floor of the building serves as a co-working and community space. The employee told us, "We sell it at a lower cost than they would in their store, we help promote that business and the best part: all the proceeds go to the business’ choice charity."
This May, their partner was Curbside Cycle, located on Bloor Street just east of Bathurst, and their product was the Dutch made Batavus BuB bicycles. ING’s Friends of Savers bought 40 of the beautiful urban cycles from Curbside, originally priced at $650, and resold them at the discounted rate of $400. For one month, the bicycles, along with bicycle-themed décor, accented the orange interior of Yonge and Shuter.
The partnership is seen as a great success! The Batavus BuB bikes “flew off the sales floor” at a rate of at least one a day. ING Direct then donated the funds to a charity called Recipe for Community, which helped provide underprivileged youth in St. James Town with bikes, helmets and locks.
This exciting partnership with Curbside was not the only support shown by the Orange Network toward the cycling community. During their Seven Days of Saving project, promoting ways of saving money, they held a one day workshop teaching “do-it-yourself” bike tune-ups. Bringing in a mechanic they helped onlookers learn how to save money by doing minor bicycle repairs at home. Another fantastic idea brought forth by an organization excited about supporting cycling and greener living in Toronto.
Would ING Direct revisit a partnership with a cycling shop again? "Absolutely."
The ING Direct Café is located at:
221 Yonge Street
NetworkOrange @ ingdirect.ca
dandyhorse magazine is proud to have ING Direct as a supporter. Customers of ING Direct Café can pick up a free copy of dandyhorse while supplies last.