Cycle Heaven scored the enviable coup of setting up its second shop within the busy York Rail Station.

The first bike shop in a rail station?

BikeBiz speaks to co-owner Andy Shrimpton to find out how he snapped up the prime location and how he keeps the business on the right tracks…

How did you get to open a store in York Station? There must have been plenty of competition…
The usual way – saw the sign, made the enquiries, put together the business plan, got the finance sorted… There were some other interested parties from the bike world, but the landlord liked our offering – based I believe, on a sound business case and a strong local reputation.

And it’s a first for a bike shop?
Your readers can advise on that. I think that there are shops adjacent to, very near, or underneath stations etc, but not actually inside one I believe. [EDITOR NOTE: let us know in the comments section below].

Do you think it will start off a trend across the country?
If by that, you mean railway companies looking to promote cycling to and from stations, I think the trend has already started. There are lots of different projects around the country – such as the Brompton Dock in Guildford.

They are not so keen on bikes on trains, which is why they are promoting good cycle parking and other amenities such as long term hire, at either end of a train journey.

Aside from commuters, does the shop attract any other types of cyclists?
Tourists for cycle hire, cycle-tourists, and locals who live close by.

How’s business for your other shop in York?
Steady, but fine considering the recession. I get a feeling that it’s tightening it’s grip and that times are harder for people than they were a year ago.

What are your biggest challenges ahead?
In the short term, the continuing recession and increased local competition are challenges. Long term, it will be fundamental structural changes to the industry driven by technological change. The implications of web2 technology are still playing themselves out meaning we all have to be much more flexible in every aspect of our business. I don’t see life getting any easier for independent retailers in the future.

Do you run any special events in either of the stores?
From time-to-time we run open evenings focused on our core customer groups or product areas – which are generally commuter/utility oriented. 

What trade shows do you go to?
I really try to avoid them. I especially dislike the in-house shows, which I feel are usually disappointing. I would make an exception for Zyro which is very well run, with a very high standard of hospitality. But even there I’d probably not go if it wasn’t just down the road!

With any show, I’d attend if I felt there was matter that I needed to discuss that concerned overall business strategy – like taking on a new bike brand or going into a major new product area. Otherwise, I feel that it’s the business of my staff to engage with the product – so they get to go.

What do you think 2012 has in store for cycle dealers?
Generally speaking, a tougher trading environment. But there are always plenty of local opportunities out there. I feel that you always have to question your own business model and its sources of competitiveness and sustainability.

Owners: Andy Shrimpton and Piers Maffett
Locations: Bishopthorpe Road York and York Railway Station
Established: 1993
Telephone: 01904 636578 / 622701
Opening times: Seven days a week

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