by Jamie Ware
November 19, 2013
Your once a week dose of retail therapy from Singletrack’s Premier Dealers, stockists and advertisers.
Tuesday Treats gives you a quality serving of independent bike retailing and a chance to win big in this week’s prize draw.
This week, we revisit The Velo Store.
This week we’re catching up with The Velo Store. We’re back to see what’s fresh with Peter Jeffers and crew …
Apart from the obvious… we’re all a year wiser, what’s changed in the last year?
Well, we are still the Velo Store and we’re still located in Stone Staffordshire – ‘The Canal Town’. Obviously local young people would never cover over the ‘C’ on the signs approaching the town.
Retracing some steps, what on earth possessed you to open a bike shop anyway?
I first opened a bike shop because I was tired of other shops not loving my bike the way I did. From being a child I loved the freedom a bike gives you and the romance of the Tour De France I watched on Channel 4 during the Kelly and Roche era. I’ve dragged my wife and kids up the Pyrenees, camping for days just so that I could catch a glimpse of the Tour on climbs and then into Bordeaux to watch Cavendish win a sprint.
I had no idea that pro’ cycling existed here and being from Liverpool where football was the only sport, I thought that bikes were blue or red and for transport and/or nicking! I’d worked in and then ran the bars in a five star hotel in Yorkshire, where great service was everything. This experience of helping people have a great time, going the extra yard and exceeding their expectations brought great personal satisfaction.
At Velo Store I have people working for me who are ‘people people’, great at service and loved bikes as much as I did. I had it instilled in me that the customer is king and that service is everything. One thing that is lost on many these days is that great customer service is something that good staff enjoy – it’s not a financially motivated and shops that try to do it for profit can be spotted a mile off.
What product line would you hate to lose from the shop?
Hope Tech. They seem to genuinely love bikes and their customers. I love the quality, the design, the customer service, plus its British and offers great value for money.
What bike in the store do you secretly lust after?
The Genesis Equilibrium.
How do you compete against the big onliners?
The occasional mug of tea and the Williams sisters, although our pair possess a little less muscle bulk. With bikes it’s whether the customer sees the value in what we offer, the help we provide in taking them from the desire for ‘a bike’ to choosing and fitting the right bike. A bike is only a starting point, great service and advice, follow up maintenance and for rides both on and off road.
We also offer bespoke bike builds to whatever spec the customer wants. We also target certain lines – we know we can’t beat the big boys on everything but by concentrating our purchasing on certain items we can. Locks, tyres and lubes are great examples of this. Personally, if a bike shop fears the online stores they should realise we’re not selling ‘things’ – we’re selling the feeling someone gets from riding a bike they love using appropriate equipment.
What brand of tea bags do you use?
Would you sell SPD wellies?
No. No one would ever ride a bike in wellies. Apart from one of our Tuesday night MTB ride regulars.
What has been selling well recently?
For the road it’s mud guards and black appear to outsell silver 3 to 1, which seems to be taking the stealth thing further. More people need to spend money on bike lights as well, I’m amazed at how cyclists don’t light up properly.
What bike or product have you been surprised hasn’t sold well?
Until recently I’d have said Turner. I’m amazed what sells sometimes and how much influence forums and social media have. We took on the brand about a year ago, sold nothing for 10 months, until Singletrack ran a review which we followed up on Facebook. We subsequently sold five £3k+ plus builds in three weeks. Marketing eh?
So, I buy a bike and all the gear, how else can you help me?
Well, our sister company Cycle Training Ltd. trains 20,000 cyclists a year! From learning to ride in the first place, to city commuting and off-road. Mostly with children but we also work with Sustrans and local authorities engaging business and workers trying to make cycling to work a viable option. This of course can lead to recreational use.
The training side of the business is the most challenging but also extremely rewarding as we see people progress from non-cyclists to finding the love for cycling and this is the foundation of our business. It’s also great to see a huge increase in the number of women taking up cycling. We’ve loads of options here
Your Tuesday night MTB rides, whilst performing the honourable duty of establishing prior use of trails, also involves some mysterious substance called Lobby. Care to explain?
Ah, the fame spreads! Some of the lads end up in the Star pub after the ride. On a Tuesday night a drink includes a free bowl of stew and monstrous slice of bread. In this area the stew is called Lobby. Please don’t ask me why.
Lastly, remind us. What do Singletrack Premier Subscribers get from you guys?
50% off our Accredited Service Packages (max of three per annum). 10 % off clothing. Free tea/coffee and 3for2 on energy bars/gels. Welcome on all our shop rides. Catch us in cyberspace on Facebook and on our Twitter page.
Tuesday Treats Prize Draw