It’s been a while since I’ve put pen to paper so to speak. So much has happened in the past year that I haven’t known where to start. So I am starting here, today, October 4th 2019, the day after I attended the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Business 2030 Summit in London. It was an inspiring event, as the alumni events always are. The event focussed on what businesses of the future would look like, how they can be sustainable both financially and environmentally, and it made me think, this isn’t just businesses of the future, this is what we, Twenty3c have always been about.
Why don’t we talk about it more. In true British fashion, we don’t like to talk about what we do well, but this is business, its not about what each individual does well, it’s what we as a team, as a family do well, and you should all get the opportunity to hear about it so you can experience it. After all that’s why we are in the business of bike shops. It’s never been about huge profits and valuations, we would be kidding ourselves if we thought it was about that. It’s about sharing what we are passionate about, not just cycling, what is cycling anyway? It’s different things to different people, it could be for health and fitness reasons, it’s commonly recognised as a positive way to improve both physical and mental health, it could be as a means of transport, either for cost savings, ease of commute, or for environmental reasons, or it could be to spend time with friends and family. All of these come back to two elements if you want to simplify it, investing in either yourself or the environment you live in.
So as a bike shop how do we fit into that?
We recently opened a new bike shop in Wembley Park, London. I can hear you say, “You must be killing it, making far too much money if you can open a new bricks and mortar store with the High Street in its current state”? We are growing yes, but we are not funded by profit, the new store is funded by a group of individuals who believe in what we do, believe in our mission, believe what we, as a bike shop can offer a developing community. Community is what we are all about. When we started to design the new store, one of the things that we wanted was a community wall, a giant cork board that will become one of the most important features, because it will represent everything we stand for. And on that board, is a sign that says ‘we are a community where people come together to share all things cycling, a trusted friend that offers desirable bikes, expert servicing and friendly, personal advice’. That’s us, we are your friend, we are on a mission to build communities, not just one, but many, where people come together with a shared passion. You may ask, “but isn’t that what local bike shops and cycling clubs already do”? You would be right to question and we wouldn’t challenge that, but we believe that the current retail and supply ecosystem is broken, it’s disconnected and we believe that the value of a bike shop is overlooked which is why so many are disappearing. They are not overlooked by their customers, not by their friends but by their industry and without bike shops, the industry loses the heart of those communities, it loses people, and the world is all about people. It’s not just about getting a product from A to B as quickly as possible because assuming you know what product you need or want, when that product arrives, what do you do with it, some know, but most don’t and if the industry can’t support you then you will find another passion, another industry that can.
So who decides if bike shops survive? The answer is simple, you do. They are evolving, some will close but more will open, and we hope to be amongst the latter. We truly believe that local bike shops are key to an environmentally sustainable High Street, that support alternative means of transport and becomes central to local communities. We often associate community with ‘not for profit or charitable organisations’ but why can’t a business be central to a community, businesses offer employment, businesses invest but businesses need to make a profit in order to do that. We want to build communities that believe in us, our integrity, that believe in our mission and don’t need to question how much we ‘make’, because they can see what they get in return far outweighs that. Who knows what bike shops will look like in the future, at this moment in time, we have a vision and we would like to be leading the way but the truth is , it’s anyones guess!