Retail sounds simple to the uninitiated. Get a shop, stock it with products, sell at a hefty margin, pocket the profit and head off for early retirement in Montego Bay.
But there’s a bit more to it than that, sadly, otherwise every Tom, Dick, Harry or journalist would be opening a shop somewhere. Differentiation from the competition is one factor that every retailer has to consider. Do you cut prices below your retail rivals? Or do you target a previously untapped sector and hope for the best?
One bike shop carving out a niche for itself is North East-set Strawberry Cycles.
Although not a retailer new to the cycle business, Strawberry relocated in January this year to Peterlee, County Durham, the same town that gave us TV legends Roy Walker and the Krankies. Strawberry Cycles owner Marcy Rochester used the relocation as chance to give his shop an eye-catching and unusual look.
Sporting bespoke graffiti and reclaimed materials like railway sleepers, Strawberry Cycles has set about standing out from the crowd. But it’s not been an easy process.
“It’s been a nightmare getting everything sorted and in its place,” Rochester tells BikeBiz. “We have finally got the shop looking something like we wanted, but there is still a lot to do to get it to where we want to be.”
The shop enlisted the services of an artist from the nearby community to help put the look together: “Nelson, the graffiti artist, is a local lad. I just gave him my ideas and let him do the rest. He said it’s the first legal job he has done...”
Cycling’s ecologically sound image played a part in the other aspects of the shop’s unique appearance, Marcy explains: “Reclaimed materials meant we were in keeping with the overall green theme of cycling. We have done all the work ourselves and wanted to be a bit different from the rest.”
The move to a new location wasn’t just about the chance to do something unusual with the look of the show, however. Rochester explains: “They are much bigger premises – two and a half times the size of the old unit. Having a larger base meant the shop would be improved in terms of display and also give the shop space to grow.
“It also had better parking facilities and cheaper rent – it was a no brainer deciding to move.”
With the shop over twice as large as the former retail unit, Strawberry Cycles now also has the opportunity to stock a broader selection of product and in a more orderly fashion too.
“We are stocking a lot more bikes and accessories and all bikes now have their own section, so there’s one place for full suspension, mountain bikes, road, BMX and hybrid.”
Reaction has been positive for the quirky look. “So far everyone that has walked through the door has said ‘wow’, as it is so different from the norm. We have had good feedback from the reps that we’ve had in.
“We have tried to make it more of a shopping experience than just a shop. We have a laid back atmosphere and make everyone feel welcome, we have a chill out area so customers can browse catalogues or discuss their needs.”
Telephone: 0191 5871729
Opening times: Monday - Friday 9.30 - 17.30, Saturday 9.00 - 17.00, Sunday 10.00 - 14.00
Address: 14 Davy Drive, Peterlee, County Durham, SR8 2JF, United Kingdom