When did you set up shop?
We opened in February, but there’d been a bike shop in Box Hill for 30 years. In the 1980s it catered for professional bikers, but it’s been through several reincarnations since.
Why did you take the business on?
When I came along, the business was starting to wind down and it wasn’t even selling bikes. I thought it was a huge waste of potential, so set about raising the money to take the business on. Previously, I sold solar panels and ground source heat pumps, but I’ve been a keen cyclist for 15 years.
What makes Box Hill such a good spot?
The Box Hill Zig Zag cycle route has been popular since the 1880s. However, used as part of the cycle road races in the 2012 Olympics, the number of cyclists coming here has increased massively.
It’s the route uploaded the second most number of times to Strava by cyclists who use GPS to record their endeavours. The fact cycling has been growing in popularity also helps. On Good Friday, it was crazy up here.
What have you changed about the shop?
The biggest thing we’ve done is a massive refurbishment. Previously, the shop had traditional slotted walls and was broken up into sections. We ripped the lot out to make it into an open plan space and halved the size of the workshop at the back to make room for more shop floor.
We also put in a café, which serves as an excellent tool to get customers through the door. Crucially, we now open on Sundays, which is one of the busiest days for cyclists in Box Hill.
What do you stock?
We’re focusing on mid to high end, British made bikes you can’t buy cheaper online. It was really hard to choose which brands to work with, simply because there are so many which are so good, but we settled on Kinesis and Boardman. We’ve sold two of the latter
We also stock the Dassi carbon fibre frame. A supplier of Formula 1 parts has been instrumental in the development of the frame. It launched at the London Bike Show and is the first carbon fibre frame to be completely built in the UK. It offers cyclists a chance to own a unique bike, with individually specified paint finishes.
What about apparel?
We’ve got men’s and women’s apparel – again, nothing you can get for less online. Stolen Goat is one brand we stock, which is based locally in Woking. The customer we’re aiming at already knows the market, but actually doesn’t want to wear what everyone else does. The amount of Castelli out there is phenomenal, but there’s no margin in it for us.
How do you maintain your competitive edge?
There are lots of other bike shops in the area, but we’ve got a prime location overflowing with cyclists, who we tempt in with coffee and cake. Then they see what we’ve got on offer, that the prices are good and that we can offer a brilliant service.
It’s important a bike fits. Lots of people who come in are on the wrong size bike, but they don’t know it. We can help them with that. The workshop is also a big pull for anyone out on a ride who’s got into mechanical difficulties.
What about marketing?
We’re using Facebook and Twitter, which has been incredibly successful. We’re connected to lots of enthusiasts, cyclists and clubs, who’re already starting to drop by. We also screen all the major bike races on a big screen.
What do you like most about the business?
The process of learning how to run a business. It’s also rewarding the amount of people who come in and say how good the shop is.
And the least?
It would be nice to have another day off. Currently, I’m working six days a week and not getting to ride my bike much.
What are your plans for the future?
Our aim is to be a great bike shop – providing each customer with the right bike at the right price. We want to offer a service that ensures their bike fits them well and to offer appropriate tools and training information for them to meet their riding goals.