Comment: Taking on the local cinema?

On the back of last month's Top 20 IBDs article, BikeBiz highlights those who think outside the box
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Recently BikeBiz.com carried an article detailing 20 UK stores that had been flagged up by those out in the wild as offering their customers a cut above in terms of service and engagement. There were the usual above and beyond the call of duty boasts like out of hours group rides, coffee for customers and tales of simply tending to a cyclist in need on there way through town.

One particular store jumped out as really thinking out side of the box when it comes to generating income from their space in a non-traditional way and that store was Wheelbase. As you may have read, this retailer uses its, admittedly massive, 16,000 square foot premises for things as diverse as comedy gigs, hot showers for cycling customers and much more.

Hosting events is, of course, nothing new. It’s something I’ve noticed BMX specialists doing particularly well, much thanks to the regular DVD launches in this segment. In-store premieres are not uncommon and require nothing more than a DVD player, projector and a clean wall. From past experience I’ve seen 50 or more of the store’s key customers pop along all at once just to see the latest flick. You’ll not need my help in pointing out the financial and marketing benefits of that.

Of course space is at a premium for most, but that hasn’t stopped Shrewsbury’s The Trailhead, who recently hosted a premiere of Steve Pete’s Won’t Back Downfilm at a nearby hotel. With tickets sold via the shop in advance, that’s money in the till and a load of riders all in one room networking, all because of their local bike shop.

With little marketing spend available, lots of retailers talk about word of mouth advertising being key to their growth. With very few of us now not on various social networks, building a community around your store is simpler and perhaps more effective than ever. Spoken words can be forgotten, digital discussion and pictures of your event in full flow tend to hang around for longer.

Taking on the local cinema won’t be feasible for all stores out there and looking further afield for additional revenue in itself can be time consuming. However, come up with the right formula and you may be able to grow cycling community links, loyalty to your store and even make a bit of cash on the side.

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