Picture Credit: Tom Hill
I suspect that most of us who ride know the importance of supporting your local bike shop (LBS), without which the industry will end up going the way of record and book shops (I still shop in both of those as well) and Rob Penn has written beautifully on the subject. This is not to say that I never ever use the internet to buy things, I do on occasion, but price is only one element in a purchase and there are many more things that I take into consideration.
Not too long ago a new bright orange and blue shop front opened up about half a mile from my house with the words Garage Bikes emblazoned upon it. Interesting thinks I. Until this point I’ve used other independent bike shops in Leeds and have been loyal to them but I thought that I’ll have to have a look at this new kid. I was also aware that my trusty steed was creaking and cranking more than it’s owner and that while I’m trying to save up for something new I knew that I was going to have to spend some cash to keep me moving. Interestingly at the moment the shop is not geared up to sell bikes (although that might be where they are heading) instead it’s a workshop, parts, accessories and clothing place. I liked the vibe from the moment I opened the door; cramped (in a good way), a bike up on stand being worked on, coffee on the go, huge range of Park Tools displayed and copies of the Ride Journal on the counter. I bought a new pair of gloves on that first visit but knew that I’d be popping in again soon.
Shortly after I bought a new cassette and singularly failed to fit it myself (it was my tools I’m telling you!) so popped back down and they sorted me out with a smile and soothed away my bumbling embarrassment but the steed needed a bit more TLC. I took it down and chatted with the owner Alan who recommended a course of action so I left it with him for sorting. True to his word Alan called me if anything else came up while they were looking at it before carrying out any further work and then later on I got a text letting me know when the bike was ready for collection, and they have done a fantastic job. Throughout all of this process there was no condescension or pretentiousness (something that I’m afraid you can find all too often in the industry), it did not matter that I have an unglamorous workhorse I got treated as a valued customer even though I’m only just starting my relationship with the shop. This is how all small businesses should work (or even all businesses) and if any deserve to succeed and thrive in this difficult climate then Garage Bikes is one. I’ll definitely be using them again. Alan mentioned that he was going to start up some shop rides on the local trails which is something I’m really interested in as, not being from the area, I don’t know all the little tucked away places under my nose as I tend to head to the Dales instead. I mentioned that I’m not much cop but Alan said all abilities will be catered for the only requirements would be a helmet and a sense of humour.
It’s just great to see a business run by people with knowledge and passion and be willing to impart that. As an example of their work check out the fab cross bike above built for Tom Hill (@24Tom) one of their sponsored riders, gives me something to aim for eh.