Bike repair shop fighting on to stay at USC campus

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"Lil Bill" Flournoy has been fixing bikes for generations of USC students, but is now facing eviction from campus.

For generations, "Lil Bill" Flournoy and his dad have fixed bicycles for USC students.

Now Lil Bill's shop is being evicted, and some students are trying to save it.

Lil Bill is actually Aaron Flournoy. His dad was Big Bill and he started fixing bikes in the USC area more than 40 years ago. As Aaron began hanging around his dad's shop and helping out, folks just started calling him Lil Bill.

For Flournoy it's about more than just the bikes. Being on campus so long he's developed a sense of family with the many students he's helped over the years.

"I'm their friend, I'm their mentor. I'm father to a lot of these kids," Flournoy said. "It's more than just bikes. It's a personal thing with me."

His dad recently retired at age 81 and Aaron had been running Lil Bill's repair shop in a local church parking lot.

Until the University of Southern California bought the church.

He had to move out, but then USC offered him a new location - at least temporarily. He was fixing flats and straightening crooked wheels in a USC parking lot off McClintock Avenue.

But now he has to leave there, too.

That's because USC has built a $700 million retail and housing development, the Village, on campus. One of the new tenants is a bike store - and it has a no-compete clause for the campus.

So Flournoy has until April 30 to move off campus.

But being on the USC campus means he knows how to fight on.

And some students are helping him. More than 3,000 have signed a petition asking USC to let Lil Bill stay on campus.

For now, however, that seems unlikely.

Besides the non-compete clause, USC says there are other problems with Lil Bill's current location. The city has determined his current site is not appropriate for bicycle repair.

Still, the school said it continues to meet with Lil Bill to trying to find another option.

"This is an unfortunate situation and USC officials are working with the vendor, Aaron Flournoy, to find solutions," according to a statement from Earl Paysinger, USC's vice president of civic engagement.

Related Topics:
businessbicycleuscsmall businessLos AngelesSouth Los Angeles
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