The idea for Cockerham started out as a Project Yes plan for a program at the Small Business Center at Surry Community College. But now the project, called Mount Airy Bike Rentals, has become a reality for the rising junior.
Early Thursday morning Cockerham and her father, Jeff, bought the 11 bikes she has to rent, a tent and a rental stand to set up at Riverside Park.
Mount Airy Bike Rentals will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday until November. As business expands, Cockerham said she will probably add more bicycles, extend the number of days she works and she may even open a second location.
She originally started out trying to get sponsors to help with the purchase of the bikes. For $125 she would put the sponsor’s name on the front and back of each bike.
“I’m hoping that as business gets going and they know that I’m serious, maybe then they will be willing to sponsor me.”
Right now, Cockerham has five adult bikes, three 26-inch women’s cruisers and two 26-inch men’s cruisers. She has six children’s bikes, two boys’ and two girls’ 20-inch bikes, two boys’ and two girls’ 18-inch bikes, one 16-inch and one 12-inch gender-neutral bikes.
“I thought it was a really neat to have this. They have it at the beach a lot. So I thought we should have it in Mount Airy,” Cockerham said.
Those who want to rent bikes need to have a valid driver’s license, which they must leave when renting a bike. Patrons will pay for the bike rental in advance and then pick up their license when they bring the bike back. Right now, she is charging $2 for toddler rentals, $3 per hour for children’s bike rentals and $6 per hour for adult rentals. Helmets and child seats are $1 per hour extra.
“Some people say it’s worth it to rent it rather than having to load up their bike and bring it down here,” she said.
In order to open the business, she had to get a business license and signed a contract with Mount Airy Parks and Recreation. She will pay the city 10 percent of her sales on the fifth of every month.
She said she is going to put the money she earns toward paying off her car.
“Also, it’s just really fun. When I get older people are going to ask me what my first job was and I can tell them that I opened my own business. It’s just the experience of it and helping the community.”
The Ararat River Greenway is a little more than two miles in length.
Mondee Tilley is a reporter with The Mount Airy News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1930.