When did bike shops become boutiques?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
francovendee
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When did bike shops become boutiques?

Postby francovendee » 18 Aug 2020, 11:11am

I've just visited a newish bike shop in our nearest town and my how things have changed.
The whole store has the feel of an up market boutique with prices to match.
Is this the future, can old school bike shops survive or will they going bust if they don't follow this trend?

hamster
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Re: When did bike shops become boutiques?

Postby hamster » 18 Aug 2020, 11:51am

It's tough to fight internet pricing if you are offering nothing more than undifferentiated stuff. Let's face it, a Conti GP5000 is the same regardless whether you buy it from Wiggle or the chap on the street. So why not make a shop inviting?

Local bike shops thrive on service, advice and community. People have to hang out there a bit. If your shop has all the charm of Aldi you won't be in business long.

Discuss.
Last edited by hamster on 18 Aug 2020, 12:57pm, edited 1 time in total.

thirdcrank
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Re: When did bike shops become boutiques?

Postby thirdcrank » 18 Aug 2020, 12:05pm

They cannot use the word magasin for fear of confusion. Remember, Jock Wadley's Coureur was relaunched as The magazine for the Sporting Cyclist.

All those BLRC / massed-start enthusiasts didn't want something of a similar name published by UNESCO

https://en.unesco.org/courier

Tangled Metal
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Re: When did bike shops become boutiques?

Postby Tangled Metal » 18 Aug 2020, 12:40pm

I remember being an 18 year old looking round a small Dutch town while on holiday and on diving down an alleyway found a small shop window with a Ferrari red Cannondale bike of the sort a Pro rider might have. Behind it the shop was immaculately presented and TBH not far off what we call a boutique shop. It still sold all the stuff any other bike shop sold though.

If a bike shop sells what you need when you need it and isn't too extortionate then it doesn't matter what it's like. Of course I've checked out Push Cartel in Ambleside. I'm definitely not their target audience but I did see a guy asking what bike to get for £6k, he was just about their type of customer!!

peetee
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Re: When did bike shops become boutiques?

Postby peetee » 18 Aug 2020, 1:22pm

When cycling became a lifestyle statement not just the preserve of masochists, loners and crusty old eccentrics :wink:




.....and yes, I tick all those boxes. 8)
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Back on two wheels in deepest Pastyland and loving every minute. Mission: to enjoy big, bad hills again.

mercalia
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Re: When did bike shops become boutiques?

Postby mercalia » 18 Aug 2020, 1:31pm

we have one in West Norwood - Bon Velo The name gives it away?

https://bonvelo.co.uk/

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mjr
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Re: When did bike shops become boutiques?

Postby mjr » 18 Aug 2020, 2:04pm

It may happen in Norfolk in 2040.
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RH20
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Re: When did bike shops become boutiques?

Postby RH20 » 18 Aug 2020, 2:46pm

Perhaps when cycling became, all carbon fibre, Lycra, and all the fancy gear, bike shops needed to follow the image. Did this change put off a lot of potential cyclists? Thinking they should not be out on anything less than a formula 1 equivalent bike. If a small, not fancy basic type shop, where the staff can provide a good customer service, sales, maintenance, advice etc. for the day to day average rider then this type of shop just might be what’s need to make people feel that cycling is for them.
Cycling should not just be about racing snakes, multi mile rides and all the expensive gear. It should really be about encouraging more people to dig out their bikes and get on the road. It can be intimidating to the casual cyclist walking into a shop where it appears one needs a mortgage to buy a bike and the talk is of the miles, and huge hills ridden.
Yes there’s room for the boutique type shop but there is also a need for the smaller basic type shop that not only provides good service, but can also be a good source of used bikes, serviced, in good condition and no pressure to sell and meet targets.
I well remember walking into what might be described as a boutique style shop with my £300 bike that needed some modification for my rides. The first thing I was greeted with was, ‘you haven’t payed much for this have you.’ Not the friendliest of places, needless to say my last visit. I have now found a much friendlier shop that provides, service, maintenance, parts, used bikes etc. Knowledgable staff. I once called to buy a tube of gripper paste, the mechanic put some on my seat post free of charge rather than have me buy a full tube. Job done, no comment about the cost of my bike. This is a business that is going from strength to strength.
Bit rambling but there we are.

hamster
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Re: When did bike shops become boutiques?

Postby hamster » 18 Aug 2020, 2:56pm

As I said upthread: Local bike shops thrive on service, advice and community.

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foxyrider
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Re: When did bike shops become boutiques?

Postby foxyrider » 18 Aug 2020, 3:05pm

It started well before the internet had any impact, certainly i went to shops in the '80's who were trying to up their game with proper displays of bikes and clothing whilst still maintaining the Aladdins cave of parts. By the 90's the likes of Decathlon had big sheds, more space, a 'better' retail environment and the traditional LBS's days were numbered - that some have survived is more down to tenacity than anything. If you want to sell bikes as the core of your business, most customers now expect flashy showrooms, OTOH, if your business is centred around repairs there is more acceptance of old style set ups.

IME businesses either do one or the other well, not for lack of intent but a small store especially needs staff who can multi task so specialist sales staff for example are a luxury they can't afford. Some have tried and on the face of it, been successful but as soon as the balance is broken its a slippery downward slope, you lose customer confidence far quicker than you gain it.

I'm sure there is a place, i know there is a place, for niche bike shops but however much we might like to have such places in every town selling what 'we' want, its not going to happen any time soon. The 'Lifestyle' cyclists that inhabit these fora make up a very small part of the total sales/servicing market - indeed, a quick glance through any string will suggest self repairs, bemoan 'modern' durability etc etc, we are the anti bike shop personified!
Convention? what's that then?
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simonineaston
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Re: When did bike shops become boutiques?

Postby simonineaston » 18 Aug 2020, 3:11pm

francovendee wrote:I've just visited a newish bike shop in our nearest town and my how things have changed.
The whole store has the feel of an up market boutique with prices to match.
Is this the future, can old school bike shops survive or will they going bust if they don't follow this trend?
I don't think the old-school LBS is necessarily doomed, but they'll have to be careful... My old favourite (Warlands, on the Botley Road) was a place where you could drop by and talk bike for hours at a time. It wasn't much different at least in my mind to the place my dad took me to get my first 5-speed racer back in xxyy - varnished wood and glass top counter, tons and tons of drawers fill of things, tyres hanging off the ceiling, and bikes stacked up wherever there was room, workshop (customers verbotten unless you were one of the 'gang') out back... the idea, mostly, was to get as much value for money as possible, regardless of whether that was a spare, an inner-tube or that rare object - a new bike. These places are owned and run by enthusiasts - like Steve & Andy at Warlands.
Although I have absolutely no evidence to back up this claim, I'm imagining that the boutiques you refer to are franchises / chains and will employ staff, and while some of the staff may be enthusisatic and knowledgeable, we're looking at an Go Outdoors / Wetherspoons scenario here. Some staff may be keen as mustard (and on their way elsewhere as part of their career in retail...) others may be dull, dim-witted and no ducks given... (sorry - typo!)
Whether the old 'uns survive is of course a matter for the market to decide. What with the vfm-at-all-costs option being snatched up by online stores and swish road bikes made out of specially stiffened air being temptingly offered on twinkly-lit stands, with matching image wear available on racks close by, by the afore-mentioned boutiques, I'm not holding out much hope for the trad. local bike shop...
Last edited by simonineaston on 18 Aug 2020, 6:03pm, edited 1 time in total.
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millimole
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Re: When did bike shops become boutiques?

Postby millimole » 18 Aug 2020, 5:39pm

There's a place a few miles from me, out in the sticks on the way to Rutland called Café Ventoux that seems to be pretty successful.
They sell the seriously expensive gear, and are certainly not aimed at me.
But, their success appears to be based on a number of interlocking issues - it's run by a couple of enthusiasts, they have a decent cafe, and they run a regular series of rides.
This - for a business in the middle of nowhere - seems to be a potentially successful formula, despite the amount of work the owners need to put in to maintain the business.
Leicester; Riding my Hetchins since 1971; Audaxing on my Dawes; Riding to work on a Decathlon Hoprider

Tangled Metal
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Re: When did bike shops become boutiques?

Postby Tangled Metal » 18 Aug 2020, 6:22pm

Wasn't there a Warlands bike shop in Blackburn once? I can't face climbing into the loft to check the retailer's sticker on my ancient, first proper road bike bought at that shop 30 years ago. I am sure it was Warlands.

Long since defunct as a bike shop. I only remember the one way hill from its door I rode off on that bike to get it home. I stomped down on the pedal to set off and being so much lighter than my kids bike was before it I nearly sent the bike flying it the other side from beneath me

drossall
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Re: When did bike shops become boutiques?

Postby drossall » 18 Aug 2020, 7:05pm

It's hard for some of us not to see the passing of the old-style shop with some regret. The kind where the proprietor was a gruff, intimidating soul, at least until you got into his inner circle of accepted customers. But who knew everything there was to know about bikes, and could magic the obscure, unobtainable bit that you needed, even though it wasn't available as a listed spare, from a tray deep in the back of the mystical area behind the curtains, that no-one else was ever allowed to enter.

It's great being offered wonderful customer service and brilliant coffee. But it's not the same somehow.

mattsccm
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Re: When did bike shops become boutiques?

Postby mattsccm » 18 Aug 2020, 9:22pm

I can't speak for the old days but my experience is that by the early 80s these shops existed and were usually a damn site more successful than the old ones. Selling a jumper with 10 margin is better than selling one with 5 quid in it. As long as volume doesn't drop too much its more profitable.
I like them. Poking around mainstream or lower kit has no excitement. Stuff buying run of the mill kit, its cheaper on line. Not interested in the service aspect, it's a blooming bike and I feel that we should be mending our own not supporting some silly service industry. I feel that bike mending is like coffee making. Make your own.
My point is that these poss shops have found a niche that many people like and I suspect are no more vulnerable that the old fashioned place.