Student-Run Business ChainLinks Temporarily Closed Due To Staffing Shortage

ChainLinks, Loyola’s student-run bike shop, is currently closed due to a lack of employees, and is looking to hire new employees for their reopening in the spring.

ChainLinks, Loyola’s student-run bike shop, is currently closed due to a lack of employees and is looking to hire new employees for their reopening in the spring. 

ChainLinks has been providing services for Loyola students and the neighboring communities since 2011. The not-for-profit organization is the first student-run bike shop in the country, according to their website

ChainLinks offers a range of services including bike rentals, maintenance and a variety of parts and products from their retail store, according to Jasmine Barnes, the program coordinator for Loyola Limited.

ChainLinks is affiliated with Loyola Limited which provides experiential learning opportunities in business management and entrepreneurship for undergraduate students at Loyola through employment at Loyola’s student-run businesses, according to their website. This also includes The Flats at Loyola Station, inQbate and Ireland’s Pub10. 

Jasmine Barnes said due to a lack of employees, ChainLinks was forced to close temporarily in mid-August to allow the employees to focus on their academics, study abroad opportunities or to pursue other jobs. 

“We prioritize academics, and we want all of our students to be successful.” Barnes said. “We’re not one to hold students back from their academics.”

Jack Eisenhuth, a senior film and digital media and English double major, worked at ChainLinks as a mechanic during the 2021-22 academic year. After going home to Charlotte, North Carolina because of the pandemic, he began working at the U.S. National Whitewater Center where he found an interest in working with bikes, Eisenhuth told The Phoenix. 

“I figured when I came back here and ChainLinks opened up again, I decided I would apply,” Eisenhuth said. 

Eisenhuth said he began working on rental bikes at ChainLinks while he was trained by other student employees to do more advanced mechanic work. 

While Eisenhuth said the mechanic skills he learned at ChainLinks “are more for just fixing up my own bike, or maybe helping a friend out,” he explained skills such as problem-solving and troubleshooting will be helpful for him in the future.

Eisenhuth decided to stop working at ChainLinks this year to focus on academics and because of the time-consuming commute from downtown.

“It just didn’t seem viable for me anymore,” Eisenhuth said. 

Cooper Simons, a senior anthropology major, had to stop working at ChainLinks this semester because he decided to study abroad in Berlin. He began working at the bike shop in the summer of 2021 because of his interest in fixing up bikes.

“I’ve been a bike mechanic before, and I enjoy bikes, that’s kind of my main hobby,” Simons said.

Simons worked as the VP of operations at ChainLinks where he carried out tasks such as arranging orders, training mechanics, ordering parts and making sure everyone’s work was getting done. 

He explained he was the only person there who had experience being a bike mechanic, so he took on the role of head mechanic and helped train other employees. 

Through his experience at ChainLinks, Simons said he learned a lot about management which is a skill he says he can carry over into his career.

Simons said he is open to working at ChainLinks again in the spring, but recognizes with competitors in the north side of Chicago, the shop needs more support with their rental bikes since it is one of their main sources of income, according to Simons. 

As program coordinator, Barnes oversees all four businesses affiliated with Loyola Limited. She acts as a mentor and consultant for the students, making sure they are doing their best job, said Barnes. 

“Because we order from a high quality service, we get things that you may not see in your everyday bike shop,” Barnes said. 

ChainLinks not only provides bike services to Loyola students but also to residents of Rogers Park, Edgewater and Evanston, according to Barnes. She said some customers come into the store for bike parts at lower prices, others simply stop by to fill up their tires at no cost.  

Barnes said before closing in August, ChainLinks had a successful summer where they participated in community events such as farmers markets and Lollapalooza. ChainLinks also provided bike rentals for students participating in the midnight bike ride in September with history professor Timothy Gilfoyle. 

The midnight bike ride is a Loyola event, taking place every semester since 1989 in which Gilfoyle takes students on a tour of historic locations in Chicago from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. the following day, The Phoenix previously reported.

“Traversing the streets of the city is an excellent introduction to not only Chicago history, but urban history and most importantly, American history,” Gilfoyle said. 

Gilfoyle said he initially relied on local bike shops, but since ChainLinks opened he has been working with them to provide bikes for students who don’t have them.

This past September’s bike ride took place after ChainLinks’ closure, but the shop was still able to help out. 

Gilfoyle said he was not receiving responses to his emails to ChainLinks, but shortly before the event, Loyola Limited allowed students to come by and rent the bikes. He said he was very grateful for their ability to provide bikes at the last minute.

“They’ve gotten better over the last several years,” Gilfoyle said. “Four or five years ago the quality of the bikes were not so good, we had about three breakdowns during the course of the night,…but this year no problems, all the bikes were good.”

Barnes said many of ChainLinks’ customers are Chicago residents interested in supporting student-run enterprises. The shop prides itself on its connections with customers and providing exceptional customer service to ensure people come back and bring their friends. 

While no one has stepped up for the position of president, Barnes said they have had a “tremendous amount of inquiries regarding other positions within ChainLinks.”

ChainLinks plans to continue advertising the positions with the hopes of hiring in February and reopening as usual in late March or early April.

Jennie Colville

Jennie Colville