Dave Mellor Cycles, located in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, is a prestigious institution in the local area. After being featured in the BikeBiz 'Top 20 IBD's' feature, the shop has continued to go from strength to strength. We caught up with the man himself Dave Mellor to talk all things DMC.
Can you give the readers a brief history of the shop?
I was a toolmaker at Rolls Royce and a reasonable local bike racer. I got selected to go and ride a couple of races for Great Britain. I went to Belgium and Holland and realised I was a big fish in a small pond over here. At the same time I went for a promotion at Rolls Royce and didn’t get it. I saw a small business course in the paper, so I did the course and got a loan from the bank to set up a small shop just round the corner form the current site. It kept growing and then this property came up and I realised that even if turnover stayed the same, we’d be able to keep it open. Since then we’ve taken over the whole building. It’s a complete warren because we’ve had to cut in doors to make show rooms. Now we’ve got two floors, a cellar and a warehouse in the back for stock.
Do you run any events out of the shop?
We have a local club called the mid Shropshire wheelers and we’ve organised national time trial championships, national cyclocross championships, and national mountain bike championships. Mid Shropshire wheelers is a traditional club, so I’m proud to be a member of such a prestigious team. There’s a club that our mechanic is part of that call themselves the Wild Wednesday Wheelers. Every Wednesday about 200 local people go out mountain biking. They’ve been going for over ten years. We also organise 12 races a year. We have a 1km-floodlit circuit, and we try to get the youngsters out on it as much as we can. We have a chip timing system that we got grant aided by sport England.
It’s been a tough year for many IBD’s, has that rough patch affected you?
We’ve done remarkably well I think. We’ve been fortunate in that the other traditional shop in the town had an injection of cash from a partner and one of the first things they did was kick out Cube, so we opened up another shop just to take on Cube. We’re lucky that we have Giant and Specialized as our two key brands here and then we do Cube in our other shop, so they have been pretty consistently high sellers. The last two years have been flat and I don’t know how we’ve done it but with the aid of growth incentives from Giant and Specialised, we’ve hit our targets and the first quarter of this year we were about 13 per cent up.
Do you think your online presence is essential to the growth and success of your business?
We are definitely more brick and mortar oriented. We have a website which feeds off of our epos system but the prices tend to be at full retail. I’ll cherry-pick some items to do deals on to compete with the larger online retailers. The Internet is a great shop window, but its also a pain because people can compare our prices to unreasonably low prices elsewhere. That’s why personal customer service is important. You have to give customers a reason to come to us.
Dave Mellor Cycles are regarded as one of the best shops in England, what has given you this reputation and how do you maintain it?
It’s customer service really. We employ three women as well. Women seem to feel less comfortable in bike shops and I think that’s down to a male dominated presence so it’s essential that we have female employees to counteract that. We have loads of women in the club and even though they know us, they go online to Wiggle to buy clothing because they feel intimidated by bike shops. We listen to people and we try to be as honest and informed as possible. We showed a man a bike the other day that was £1200 but it was the wrong size. I could have just sold it to him but I had to tell him that it was the wrong size even if we were going to lose money on that purchase, it’s important that we’re honest.
What do you think about the giant mergers between Wiggle - Chain Reaction and Zyro - Fisher?
I think we do quite well with Zyro, and we’ve had a really good relationship with them. We do get quite frustrated when some of the product gets discounted heavily online and Zyro do say that they are trying to control that, but they just cant. Fisher have a great product range but we just haven’t got in with them like we have with madison or Zyro, I think maybe it’ll be good for that brand to adopt the business model and ethos of Zyro. I mean, one less rep to deal with is great for us.
Do you offer bike fitting in-house?
Yes we use the specialised big fit, we’ve gone for a Giant Powerfit system. The only thing we’ve had with that is replicating the fit from the Powerfit onto the customer’s own bike. We haven’t been 100 per cent happy that we’re getting it right but everyone who has had a fit has been very happy with it. Like a lot of the bike brands, it’s a rural area and we haven’t got the concentration of people that shops in London do, so its never going to be a big part of the business but people do travel, we have a guy coming in this afternoon who’s coming from quite a way away to get it done.
What advice do you have for struggling shops?
You have to keep positive, and keep giving that excellent customer service. Do what you do well and don’t throw money away, look at your costs and make sure what you’re doing makes financial sense. What we’ve done has been very modest. We’ve offered a good range and we haven’t been off buying flash cars. We’ve grown slowly and over time, and that way we’ve managed to make a good living and we get to ride a lot!