Equal shop-ortunities

We’ve all had poor service at some point. But what if the reason behind that poor service is because you’re… well… a woman.

By Rachel Jevons

We’ve all been there haven’t we? We’ve experienced crappy customer service at the hands of a bike shop.
But what if the reason behind that poor service is because you’re… well… a woman? I recently had two bike-shop experiences which show that, although some people can be a tad sexist, not everyone is like that and there’s a simple approach to the woman-in-a-bike-shop scenario.

>>> Britain’s best bike shops 2017 – Vote closes August 31

Neanderthal Bikes Ltd*

My first bike shop scenario. I was ignored; served out of turn; tutted at; and left incredibly frustrated. If they were indiscriminate in their unique brand of shitty service I would have been cheesed off, but instead I felt singled out.

How did I know it wasn’t just a rubbish shop and getting my lady parts in a knot for no reason? Well, I stood there witnessing the great service my male counterparts were getting (that’s the “oh, he’s probably having a bad day” argument out of the way).

So I did a self-check: was I being a ‘Bike Shop Arse’ (we all know one)? – no, I was there to buy.Was I polite and courteous – always. I’m a vicar’s daughter. Did I have my skirt tucked into my pants? No. What else was left? You see where I’m going, right? OK, I know what you’re thinking. Suck it up, princess, shop somewhere else. So, I did.

*Not their actual name but I swear I could hear the distant sound of dragging knuckles.

The Riders’ Guild

This independent shop did one very simple thing differently – they treated me like a mountain biker. Sorry – not the biggest revelation, is it? So what’s the one thing that made the difference? People. An empowered, valued workforce, with a recruitment policy based around knowledge, passion and decency. So what? If you want to tap into the UK’s biggest growing mtb market then welcome women into your store. Treat us as riders. Give us choice and space. Make your store our happy place, because we’re all there for one reason: our love of life on two wheels.

How to choose your bike shop

Check their social media page

Get an idea of the vibe. Are they friendly and responsive to queries?

Opening hours

It’s not about 24/7 access. Do they close one day per week to allow staff to go and ride the bikes and use the kit they’re selling?

Do they have a chill out or café space?

This demonstrates an unhurried and social approach to your experience.

Smiles for extra miles

Do they go out of their way to help people?

Shop rides and events

Do they give something back to their community?

How to get the best out of your bike shop

Don’t be an arse

Don’t spending hours getting people to run round after you just to buy it online; don’t ask for discounts – gold star service is priceless (especially in small indy businesses). I could go on. A lot.

Be polite and friendly

If you want a decent service, be a decent human.

Contact them beforehand

See if they have what you want, tell them you’re dropping in; that way you’ve already got a connection with them.

Do your research

That way you can make the most of your time with the staff, tapping into their knowledge, and you’re more likely to leave with what you really need.

Get on their mailing list and social media page

Be part of their community and the first four points will look after themselves.