Small cycle shops call for help against bigger chains
INDEPENDENT bicycle shops in Cheltenham are urging cyclists to continue supporting them.
Three shops, Roylans in Suffolk Parade, Cheltenham Cycles, in Winchcombe Street, and Williams Cycles in Albion Street have a combined presence in Cheltenham approaching two centuries.
And they say that maintaining a presence of independent, cycle specialists in the town, in the face of competition from large chains and the internet, is critical for cyclists in town.
Owner of Roylans, Matthew Field said: “Choice is a good thing for cyclists as well, but lots of the big multiples seem to want to come to Cheltenham now.
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“Evans have just opened and Decathlon are rumoured to be wanting to open.
“Independents can offer a more personal service, a lot of our customers come back, and we make sure that we look after them properly.
Mr Field added that though the three shops were competitors, they were also collaborators.
He said: “We all know each other, and we have slightly different markets and we offer the town a very good choice and level of service.” The level of expertise and personal service was also highlighted by Ben Davies at Cheltenham Cycles.
He said: “We’re all cyclists here and we probably cater for the enthusiast market.
“But we don’t have sales targets set by area managers.
“We don’t have to sell certain numbers of a particular type of bike. We can advise customers on the best bike for their needs, whether that’s a £2,500 carbon road bike, or a £500 bike.
“We’ll give good advice whatever our customer’s needs.”
Ben emphasised that staff at local shops tend to stay longer in the job than at larger chain stores. He said: “I’ve been here 13 years, and the shop’s been here since 1992.
“So if we suggest something you know you can come back and talk to that person again, we’re not just trying to make a sale.”
The longest serving cycle shop in Cheltenham is Williams, which was founded in 1904.
Director David Williams said: “We have been here for more than a 100 years, and are committed to stay in Cheltenham.” The multiples’ plans are made somewhere else and Cheltenham may figure in those plans long term, or they may not.”
Mr Williams said his greatest asset was the local experience of his staff, and the flexibility the shop’s independence gave them.
He said: “They’re all local cyclists who know the area and the types of terrain, there’s a couple who ride BMX and others who ride off-road.
“They can advise on the best places to ride and the best sort of bike and equipment for the riding you get around here.
“ And we can try and get the right bikes for peoples, not just what we have.
“We see people who had bikes from us as children now buy bikes for their own kids, which is lovely.