Bike shop owner Aaron “Lil Bill” Flournoy is facing eviction from the USC campus. Flournoy owns a bike repair shop at USC called Lil Bill’s bike shop.
From aiding his father, Bill, at Bill’s Bike Shop on Jefferson Boulevard and Walton Avenue to taking over an on-campus bike shed and starting his own business, Flournoy has been assisting the bikers in the USC area for 40 years.
Through his years of service at his father’s shop, Flournoy earned the nickname ‘Lil Bill.’ Bill sold his shop and USC plans on building housing at the location, according to Flournoy. He wanted to carry on the business.
The development of the new University Village is the cause of Flournoy’s eviction.
New vendor Solé Bicycles will open their second shop in the village in August. In their contract is a “no-compete” clause which prohibits the university to have companies that provide similar services to vendors in the village.
Upon realizing how their new store would affect Flournoy’s business, the creators of Solé bicycles provided him with a job offer. However, Flournoy is not willing to take it.
“I didn’t go into business to work for somebody else,” Flournoy said. “I went in this to work for myself.”
Flournoy will talk again with the bike company to express what his wants are.
“I just want the opportunity to coexist,” Flournoy said. “Why do they feel that I’m such a threat? I’m a small guy, I’m not even selling bikes over here.”
Solé Bicycle co-founder Brian Rueben mentioned the company is looking for a mutually positive solution, USC Annenberg Media reports.
Students have shown their outrage over the eviction and started a petition on iPetitions.com with a goal of collecting one thousand signatures. The petition reached its goal in five days and has since garnered over 6,300 signatures. USC senior Jamie Huang noted how Lil Bill’s Bike Shop had received good reviews online.
“I was surprised and also kind of upset,” Huang said about the eviction. “I know that this is his business and he’s like been here for quite some time.”
Flournoy provides bike repair for affordable prices and free bike consultations along with advice and mentorship. Faculty members also benefit from his services.
The relationship Flournoy has with the students is strong, he even built a bike for a student on the baseball team.
“It’s a whole lot of kids who was gonna give up and then I had to have a little pep talk to keep them going,” Flournoy said. “Now, they have went on to graduate and become successful in life.”
Lil Bill’s Bike shop allegedly has until April 30th to leave the campus. Lawyers have advised Flournoy to go to court with the issue but Flournoy doesn’t want to consider that option.
Last year, Flournoy received an offer from Micah Greenberg to work from the bike shed located on the church parking lot near Hoover street and West Jefferson Boulevard. USC stopped doing business with the former owner of the bike shed, allowing Flournoy to start his business.
However, Lil Bill’s bike shop had ‘month-to-month’ placing on campus; Flournoy was promised otherwise.
“This previous owner, even in his contract, told me that they were gonna find me a permanent spot on campus or on university row,” Flournoy said.
Earl Paysinger, USC Vice President of Civic Engagement, stated that Lil Bill’s Bike Shop “has been operating out of a temporary structure in a USC parking lot without a lease.”
Flournoy wants to continue paying the rent for his business and show his petition to the president of USC.
“I’m gonna submit my petition to the administration,” Flournoy said. “I want to continue to fight on for my business.”