He has been upgrading cycles in need to give away to the less fortunate since 2018.
Wes Hohnstein has an under-the-radar and positive hobby that benefits Stony Plain.
Past the toys, treats and trappings for dogs and cats in his Pet Foods Etc. business lies a bicycle repair and restoration shop where he has been upgrading cycles in need to give away to the less fortunate since 2018. He is set to be honoured by the ATB Financial bank for his work Sept. 24.
He is moved by the selection, though, he did have a bit of concern when they came to him a week ago.
“It is overwhelming and a great honour and big surprise,” Hohnstein said. “The bank people came walking through the door and I was wondering what we did wrong. It is nice to be recognized for what we do.”
The program honouring Wes and partner Cynthia is referred to as Surprise and delight by ATB. It looks for people and businesses that are community involved and found the Hohnstein’s when area manager Paul Befus was driving and saw the bicycles Wes gives away outside of the front of his store.
He uses his own money to make the repairs and added what he does began with a concern for a member of his family.
“Our grandson was looking for a bike and we found that the cheapest at stores were $130,” he said. “That does not make sense. So rather than buy one which could get wrecked we posted on Facebook and they came rolling in. We took it from there and it is something we do when the days are slow here to be busy.”
Wes restored and gave away more than 100 bicycles last year. This year he has given out 135. Before he got into his pet supply business of 13 years, he had nurtured a mechanical side from his youth and says the best items to work with for his cause are those that are gently used but in need of some love and mercy.
“It is not 1930 anymore. We fix what we can and parts wise bikes do not cost much,” Hohnstein said. “We serve to everyone and don’t really draw lines.”
Cycles for toddlers and seniors have come in and, in one instance, a middle-aged woman brought in a brand new bike she did not want after only riding it twice. Wife and co-owner Cynthia talks to people to see what their concerns and needs are and if they can they help.
They do this while avoiding taking business from others.
“Some have offered to pay us to fix bikes and that is not what this is about,” Hohnstein said. “We will leave that to Mud, Sweat and Gears in Spruce Grove. To us, it is recycling, everyone should have their own bike.”
Wes and Cynthia intend to keep on going with their service in the future and are humbled by the recognition from friends, family, strangers and customers. They say it feels good to give and, for ATB Financial employee Cristy Levesque, it is something that everyone should get to know about.
“The selflessness that Wes exhibits to help enhance children’s lives and provide to families in need is something that should be shared with the world,” she said.
A barbecue will be held in his name later this month.