A new physical and online female-focused cycle retailer is launching into the trade this month.
Founded by Kelli Salone, the site will combine retail with an ‘ask the experts’ section providing advice to riders of all levels and disciplines.
Based in Hannington, Swindon, Dame Cycling will reach out to the cycle, triathlon and running markets, retailing a couple of lines of bikes, clothing and accessories including tyres, pumps, etc. In the long-term Salone wants Dame Cycling to produce frames too.
Salone praised the reaction from the trade so far: “Every distribution channel I’ve spoken to has been completely on board. It helps that I was quite well known in the trade ten years ago – people I knew back then have now moved up the chain and are higher up. Everyone has been completely on board – which is very cool.”
After a ten-year break from the industry, Salone returned to find the ‘same problems’ in the trade. “I started going on forums and every other woman was complaining their local shop didn’t do anything for them. You can’t blame shops for that – most of their customers are men and always will be. Most shops are quite small and you can’t blame them for not wanting to take a risk. Maybe they’ve had their fingers burned in the past too.
“I would spend hours trawling online – I wanted to pimp my Specialized with pink stuff bar tape, etc – I just thought someone should put all of this under one roof and make it more user friendly. That’s been on my mind since I returned to the trade.
“I just thought with the growing interest in female cycling that someone is going to do this and I’ll be thinking ‘that should have been me’.”
In the long-term Salone hopes Dame Cycling will challenge the larger players in the sector.
She added: “I think women will travel to you – if you’ve got everything under one roof, why wouldn’t they come and have a coffee? We’re going to have demo bikes – I’ve a nice track down a lane from my premises so they can come in, try stuff on and take a bike for a spin and get to see what it feels like. If they want it we can order it for them.
“I think women just want to talk about stuff and have a hands on experience. Originally it started as an online project and then the shop came later, but as time has gone on, I think the shop is going to be a key part of the success.”
A distinction between Dame Cycling and other online retailers, other than the female focus, is the information hub aspect of the new site.
“There will be links to all the women-focused magazines, clubs and events on the site. I didn’t realise how many there are.
“For the ‘Ask the Experts’ section I’ve got riders from each discipline and levels and experts – female coaches, nutritionists and dieticians and people can actually get straight to these experts for advice.
“Women like to ask questions and mull things over and that’s why it’s important to have the different levels of advice. For a lady who hasn’t been riding for very long – better to ask a lady who has been riding for a year or so rather than a racer who has forgotten and can’t relate to the question – it’s good to have all those levels of abilities.”
Salone said the name Dame Cycling was chosen for the increasing number of sporting women who have become Dames and also for the definition of the word – ‘a woman of authority and power’.
You can chart the progress of Dame Cycling on the Facebook page – www.facebook.com/DameCycling