West Oxfordshire’s newest bike shop and hub for the local community is Mickey Cranks. Located in Witney, and praised for being ‘an aspirational and brilliant shop’ by none other than David Cameron (more of that later), Mickey Cranks is the brainchild of Mick and Kirsty Murphy and is the product of what you might call blue sky thinking from Mick, who’s background is in parachuting.
He takes up the story: “I served 22 years in the RAF as a Parachute Jumping Instructor, training the UK Special Forces how to skydive with oxygen and equipment, including tours of Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. After a fantastic career I fancied a change and looked for a business that I would be passionate about.”
The self-confessed cycling geek and wannabe racer decided to share his passion for cycling through the medium of retail. The shop was first on the drawing board back in 2011: “I started writing my business plan while still in the RAF and after taking voluntary redundancy in Dec 2012 I put my savings into the business.”
That business plan included some key points to help Mickey Cranks stand out from the competition and reach into local cyclists’ lives beyond retail, as Murphy explains: “We designed the shop to be a community hub for local cyclists and hope it’s an experience and not just a store.
“We have a cycling club with over 240 members after just three rides and want to promote the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and to improving cycling safety in our community. We want to promote cycling as a fun, goal oriented activity that people can participate in either as a casual rider or competitive racer.
“We aim to promote cycling as a community, with both social and philanthropic benefits. Our aim online is to build on our brand and attract customers by rewarding loyalty points to be spent in store or online.
“Through our club we have already run cycling safety classes and bike maintenance lessons, we have coaching days and nutritional classes planned, we aim to give as much back to the community as we can.”
But what about the nuts and bolts of the shop, like product range specialisms? The retailer is naturally concentrating on the road sector – situated more than an hour from notable MTB trails – and with the backdrop of the Cotswolds close at hand – “one of the most beautiful places in the country to ride a road bike.”
The workshop is literally central – “the heartbeat of our store,” says Murphy – being open plan and with a seating area next to it, so customers are encouraged to come in to have a coffee and talk cycling.
But enough beating around the bush, just how did they score the stroke of genius that was getting Prime Minster David Cameron to open Mickey Cranks in September?
Murphy reveals: “My wife’s mind works differently to mine, I never would have thought that the Prime Minister would open our shop, but Kirsty just rang Downing Street and asked. I followed up her initial call with an email and they came back with a ‘yes’. I learnt that if you never open the door, you will never step through it.”
Looking ahead, the sensible short-term plan is to build a profitable business around quality advice and service.
“I want everyone to be greeted with a smile and we want our customers to leave with a smile. Long-term we would like to build our brand. We have had a fantastic reaction to our logo and cycling kit and I would like to explore a clothing line in the future.
“I love working in the shop and hope that comes across to our customers. I have received so much pleasure from cycling and want to share it with others. I’m learning a lot fast but the ride has been great so far and long may it continue.”
Just don’t blame us if the Number 10 switchboard soon gets jammed with new bike shop owners…
Telephone: 01993 709149
Email: email@example.com Facebook: /MickeyCranks
Location: Unit 2, Two Rivers Industrial Estate, Witney, Oxfordshire,