With retirement approaching for Cheddar Cycle Store owner Paul Baker, there were a number of options available to him, including lining up a potential sale of the shop and planning to put his feet up. Last year, however, the ex-pro cyclist decided to ditch all ideas of taking it easy to make good on a long-held ambition to expand the store instead, all during a year that was notoriously rough for many independent bike shop owners. As you do.
Office manager Sarah Baker takes up the story: “We have been in business for 11 years now, in a small industrial park on the outskirts of Cheddar. We always hoped to expand as we were finding that we just couldn’t hold enough stock to meet the needs of our customers.
“Paul was approaching retirement age, but instead of taking a step back he decided on a new challenge with a bigger shop! When the neighbouring unit became available – it was previously a carpet shop – we jumped at the chance.”
They knocked through the showrooms to double the retail area to just over 1,500 square feet. The building itself covers 3,000 sq ft so they’ve increased storage and office space while keeping the workshop size as it was, with room to expand if needed.
“We managed to get the building work and shop fit done in just under six weeks so we could relaunch the new and improved Cheddar Cycle Store on December 12th, in time for Christmas. All the while we managed to stay open for business during the building works.”
Paul Baker’s rider background has seen the shop tend to attract roadies, in the main. “Paul is an ex-professional rider so it’s what we know best and there does seem to be a natural shift towards that market. That said, we are certainly not just a road bike shop. We have just taken on a new range of Ridley cross bikes as we are seeing an increased interest in cyclocross in this area with some really popular events last year. We stock Ridley and Genesis road bikes. Paul also runs Cheddar Cycle Club and we have regular rides from the shop.
“We have a good MTB customer base too, being at the foot of the Mendip hills, and now hope that we can offer them even more with an increased range of products and bikes. We have stocked Kona as our main MTB brand for years.”
The commuter and hybrid markets work for Cheddar Cycle Store too, stocking Dawes hybrids, kids bikes and touring bikes.
Handily situated right at the start of the Strawberry Line National Cycle Route 26, the retailer offers hire to punters all year round (“we are booked out most days over the summer months”).
The mix of bikes is around 30 per cent road, ten per cent CX, 20 per cent MTB, 20 per cent hybrid, ten per cent touring and ten per cent childrens bikes.
“We can now safely say we are one of the largest bike shops in the South West,” Sarah Baker adds. “Our stock of bikes and accessories is now big enough to make sure that we have something to suit every customer.
“It was a huge step for Paul to take in expanding the business, especially at a time when we were seeing (like most) a quieter time in the cycle industry, however we are already seeing the benefits.
“We now have stock to suit pretty much every customer, we can hand it to them there and then instead of having to go and order it in – we always wanted to be that one-stop-shop.
“We have significantly increased footfall on this time last year and customers are still walking in and saying ‘wow’. That makes all the hard work worthwhile.”