The second part of BikeBiz's undercover reporters trip to the Kent city...

MYSTERY SHOPPER: Canterbury Part Two

See the first part here

Cycle Store
On a side road between Canterbury High Street and a key car park for shoppers, Cycle Store had strong advice on the fixie sector, steering me to opt for a singlespeed model. The staff member Mystery Shopper spoke to advised that the singlespeed bikes are far less dangerous than a pure brakeless fixie and went on to advise that they were popular with some sections of the City’s student population, while some shop staff also rode singlespeed bikes.

The staff member discussed the market, and advised that they were often expensive. As an alternative, the store offered a kit to adapt hybrid bikes into singlespeeds, informing me that the store’s workshop would be able to carry out the work. This was, he advised, a far less expensive entrance into the sector.

When asked about the popularity of the sector, the staff member went on to list some of the key selling points of bikes in the fashionable genre – they are simple, there’s less to go wrong, and they are potentially less attractive to thieves. The friendly staff member provided plenty of advice on the burgeoning sector.

Located on a sprawling retail park to the East of Canterbury – the city’s Halfords store incorporated a significant cycle section on the first floor. The sales counter was placed at the far end, meaning customers looking for service had to walk past the store’s entire bike display before being able to get any assistance – which clearly has both advantages and disadvantages.

Products were well labelled and info-packed displays explained common features on the bikes in store. Two staff were working on a bike when Mystery Shopper approached, one of which informed that the shop didn’t hold any stock of fixies, advising there were models available at Halfords’ online shop, including at least one model from the Boardman brand. Despite having no fixie stock in store, the approachable staff member was knowledgeable and happy to chat about the genre.

In addition to the stores listed in this article, Mystery Shopper visited Canterbury’s JJB Sports, which held no bike stock at all.

The visit revealed that there is a fixie scene in Canterbury (perhaps due to the city’s proximity to London), with several retailers serving the niche.

Canterbury itself has a blend of ‘olde worlde’ shopping and modern retail facilities, with its cycle dealers inhabiting both of those worlds and generally offering good advice. All boasted staff members that were aware of, and informed about, the fixie scene, regardless of whether the store stocked relevant models. Downland, Cycle Store and Halfords offered relevant product, with Cycle Store providing the best in-depth advice. Overall, it was encouraging to see most of the stores offer stock (albeit intermittently) in the sector.

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