The Sheffield Freewheel store will close on 18th March. Owner Simon Gershon says the bottom line is the shop isnt making enough money:
It was breaking even but only just. Running a second shop on that basis isnt sensible. The Sheffield economy isnt so good any more. 25 percent of the retail spend has moved out of the city centre to Meadowhall [shopping centre].
Gershon also says JE James of Sheffield was a tough shop to compete against, it dominates bike sales in Sheffield.
The Freewheel shop will have a closing down sale starting on Valentines Day.
The plan is to have one 'real shop (Leeds) and one 'virtual' shop. Together with Orbit's stockholding and buying power and connections, this [will lead to] a symbiotic arrangement, says Gershon.
I am mindful of not wanting to undermine Orbit's relationship with its trade customers with www.freewheel.co.uk. But I think it's better that they have a competitor like me, to a competitor with no interest in their welfare, like [a certain tandem mail order specialist in the South West].
For example, Freewheel is currently having a promotion on Schwalbe tyres but Orbit trade accounts have been offered reduced prices, so that they can match these prices and make good margins.
(Orbit Cycles is a wholesaler of Schwalbe tyres).
Gershon believes there are three reasons why mail order via the internet is the preferred option for some people:
One, an internet shop can stock specialised stuff thats not stocked by everybody, at very little risk. Two, consumables such as tyres, tubes and other items chosen for price and availability etc are well suited to the internet. Three, there are lots of product categories which are difficult to display effectively in-store but much easier in a catalogue and even easier on the web where a thumbnail picture can be expanded right up and plenty of features can be explained. For instance, waterproof socks can be floppy and boring in a shop but can be made to be quite exciting on the web. Porelle socks were our best-selling mail-order line over Chrismas.