Retail profile: Pedalworks of Dunstable

Newly opened store explains why it feels it has laid the foundations for what a modern bike shop should be
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With just five weeks of business under its belt at the time of Bikebiz's visit and a yet to be held ‘official opening’ with the Mayor of Dunstable, Pedalworks is joining the bike business at a time when others would condemn joining the trade’s frontline as a decidedly risky business.

It is, according to the man in charge “a sign of the times”, that his shop occupies a former car services and accessories store, empty for the past three years and almost derelict prior to a significant revamp for Pedalworks.

“Having come from marketing all sorts of products, from lipsticks to push chairs, as well as a year working on and off for Cycle Surgery, I decided to make a go of my own bike business. It’s not simply a hobby business, I don’t think you could get away with that anymore. Pedalworks has been a big investment for me and we think we can bring huge benefits to cycling in the area,” said owner Brian Curran.

“It’s my feeling that at the serious end of the market the customers still very much perceive personal service as worthwhile spend. Much the same as a professional golfer wants their swing analysed and sized up, we’ve a big focus on sizing up the correct equipment for all our customers – be it a basic fit for the beginner, or a comprehensive tailored bike fit for the discerning cyclist. The latter is chargeable to the tune of £120 to £150 for an average three hour session, and this leaves no stone unturned in matching a bike to a customer.”

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With a number of turbo trainers on the shop floor, as well as an upper level studio, Pedalworks can place customers on a number of bikes quickly in order to size up the buyer. This also means that ‘test rides’ can be offered without bikes leaving the shop.

“The expectations of the retail environment have increased,” said Curran. “Customers expect sound advice and the ability to try before they buy. Hence our changing rooms are kitted out with mirrors and the merchandising is organised so the customer can quickly find what they want. We had some help with some layout and POS from Trek, though largely we’ve taken inspiration from shops on the High Street that look organised and have given it our own twists.”

Though Curran concedes some of his customers have come in wielding goods bought online, the online giants aren’t seen as a threat.

“We’ll be launching an online shop of our own soon, but there will be no bike in a box sales here. I’m firmly of the belief that you cannot sell everything online.

“Some things, such as complete bike sales, must be sacred. An online store cannot size a customer up, make adjustments or spec changes, offer a service once bedded in and ultimately be a port of call when things go wrong. For us, it’s not about immediate sales. It’s more about introducing the customer to new experiences, explaining why certain things, such as saddle choice, can make or break a bike.”

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Furthermore, online certainly can’t compete with the Pedalworks workshop, which is impressively armed to the teeth with nearly everything from Park Tool’s catalogue, as well as Cytech trained staff.

With a background in marketing, Curran believes his store’s High Street location will stand the business in good stead to quickly become known locally. Among the quirkier ideas raised to increase his brand’s awareness is to become involved with the local market in time, with the hope that a few inner tube sales and business cards later and his store will become number one locally.

“We co-sponsor CC Luton who compete at a regional level and are involved with a few local cycle clubs for both off and on road, so we’re not doing too badly at raising the store’s profile. It’s the High Street location and the premises itself which we feel will be the main draw for footfall though.

“A strong retail location was essential for us from the word go and the criteria will be much the same as and when we expand the empire,” concluded Curran.

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