Mike Sinyard, the Mayor of Chester and Dave Quinn do the ribbon-cutting thing
The store carries the entire Specialized range
The idea of single-brand, showcase shops is a common one in the non-bike world – Niketown, Apple Store, Sony Centre, all that stuff. But it’s not something that’s the norm in bicycles. The vast majority of bike shops carry a number of different brands, which generally means that they’ll only be able to have a fairly small part of each range in store at a time.
The alternative approach would be to stick to one brand but have everything that that brand does. And that’s Specialized’s idea with its new Concept Store, recently opened in Chester. It’s an interesting setup, not least because it’s right next door to a more conventional bike shop, The Bike Factory. That’s less odd than it sounds, as the same chap, Dave Quinn, owns both shops.
If you want to see a Specialized product in the metal, the Concept Store is clearly the place to go – it carries the complete range of bikes, parts and accessories. The store was opened by Specialized founder and CEO Mike Sinyard. “Our aim is to offer the cyclist a more complete experience in the store, with the full range of the product. I think that’s very important,” he said. “The inspirational images on the walls, the atmosphere, it makes you want to ride and that’s really the goal, to connect riders with the brand.”
Obviously this is a very different idea for bike retailing in the UK, and it’ll be interesting to see how not only the public, but other brands react. Shop owner Dave Quinn doesn’t expect any problems, though: “The brands that we work with are very forward thinking. Lots of people see it as a very positive thing. We’re appealing to all types of rider and the success is that we’re in both [MTB and road] markets.”
Richard Hemington, MD of Specialized UK, said: “People will be interacting directly with the brand. If you go to Sony you’ll expect to get more specialist product information than if you go to Curry’s and that’s the goal here. Flat screen TVs are cheaper than a year ago but we’re actually doing the opposite and asking our customers to spend more money, so to engage them a customer needs the right environment.”
One thing’s for sure, there’ll be more Specialized Concept Stores, but the company isn’t planning to swamp the country with them. “In the UK what we recognise is the potential for retailers to open Concept stores. We don’t need 100 of them to do that to get the brand experience,” said Hemington.