What makes a good bike shop?
We were very humbled last week when a lovely customer informed us that they had voted for us in the MBR / Cycling weekly competition of being 'Britain's best bike shop'. It was a total surprise, and very were delighted that someone thought that highly of us. We figured some of you must think we are ok, as you keep coming back! but seeing it in black and white blew us away. So we decided to take the plunge and go for it, asking you lovely people to back us up and give us a vote in this current competition. As the saying going 'shy bairns get nowt', so we had nothing to loose.
But it did spark the discussion amongst us all about what does actually make 'a good bike shop?' What makes one independent shop stand out from the crowd? What is it that makes people drive the distance to go to their favourite shop? To battle the parking in any town? Why do people have such loyalty when it comes to the bike trade?
Is it the brands that are sold in various shops that draw people to one shop over another? We know that some cyclists love one particular bike manufacturer, or rate one brand of clothing over another, and so wouldn't be seen riding or wearing anything but. So if that's the case there are some customers that we will never win over, purely because we don't stock 'their brand'. We try to do something a little bit different to the rest, we love trying out the smaller, lesser known (but excellent quality) brands; and for as many customers as that wins us, there will be sure to be some who don't venture over our doorstep as they don't like the unknown, and prefer to play it 'safe' with the big guns in the bike world.
Is it the prices on the price tags? Is a good bike shop the cheapest bike shop? (we think not) or more that you feel you get value for money? People want good service, fast service, efficient service? And in the world of the internet giants, people want the best price possible.
Many bike shops now, especially in Cumbria have their own ride nights, and we are no exception. So is a good bike shop born when the owners 'practice what they preach' and invite you along to join in the fun. Surely there's no greater sign of dedication than seeing the guys who are normally behind the counter, or in the workshop, out on their own bikes, enjoying their passions. At least you can be reassured that to them working in the bike shop isn't just a day job...
Or is a good bike shop just somewhere where you simply feel at home. Where you can walk in, browse, touch and drool at leisure Where you can have proper discussions about bikes, routes, parts, tyres, suspension. Where you don't need a reason to call in, other than you wanted to.
Which ever independent bike shop you choose to be 'yours' you will all have your own personal reasons. Some which we have mentioned, others we might not. The loyalty customers have to their own 'favorite' shop is unquestionable.
We know we have a loyal, fabulous customer base; and we wouldn't be where we are today without you. We also love meeting new customers who walk through the door, and inviting them into our cycling world. We love the fact that our shop is a real hub (pardon the pun) for all sorts of cycling groups, and we love it when you stay for a coffee.
So if it's us that you have chosen, thank you; we love having you on-board. We know we are just a very small fish in a very big pond, and we don't do it to be crowned 'the best', we do it because we love bikes; we love what we do; and we want to keep you cycling. That surprise nomination for Britain's best bike shop got the ball rolling for us. So now that the wheels are turning (another pun) if you have a spare two minutes give us a vote and let the world know about us.
Biking is our passion, and we try to make it yours.