Posts Tagged ‘CycleSurgery’

No, Evans, you can’t have my postcode

September 13, 2013

I had a small moment of personal liberation on Saturday. I was in a branch of Evans, and the bloke behind the counter asked, “Can I take your postcode, please?” They always ask this question whenever you buy something there, but like a goldfish who turns around and sees the same view he has witnessed two seconds before, I am always surprised by this weirdly personal inquiry. It’s a cheap portable lock. Why do you want to know where I live before you let me buy it, fer Chrissakes?

Invariably I blurt out the answer because, stupidly, I’m caught off-guard by the question. But not this time. “Actually,” I said, “can we not do any of that stuff?”

“Oh. OK.”

And that was that. I bought the lock without having to provide a means of identifying where I live. I experienced the same sense of relief you feel when removing a pair of tight-fitting shoes. I am free! Free, I tells ya!

Sales assistants at Evans are not the only ones to engage in this odd practice. CycleSurgery has also asked me the same question. Jen gave our postcode when she bought me a rucksack from Snow and Rock. And one of my Twitter chums informs me that Brantano, a shoe shop I had never heard of, is also in the business of postcode-gathering (his admirable response: “No, just the shoes thanks.”) But Evans was the first to ask for my postcode, and ten years later, standing in their Fulham branch, I suddenly realised I had absolutely no idea why.

Evans is the Tesco of cycling: most people shop there because it’s convenient, not because it’s a great experience. The comparison isn’t quite true in my case because, as I have previously confessed, I bloody love Britain’s biggest supermarket chain. I give Tesco a huge amount of personal information by owning a Clubcard: not only do they know where I live, they also know what products I like and how often I purchase them. But in addition to speeding up my shopping by allowing me to use their Clubcard-only barcode zappers and providing free Wi-Fi to Clubcard holders (very handy for listening to 5 Live on my phone while I’m pushing my trolley around the West Cromwell Road Enormo-Store), Tesco also sends me frighteningly specific discount vouchers for the things I like. Evans doesn’t offer this personalisation. I’ve surrendered my postcode to the green-and-gold giant for a decade, and all I’ve got in return are the same brochures and emails that everyone gets. From the customer’s point of view, telling Evans where you live is a complete waste of time.

So on Wednesday I asked Evans on Twitter why its shop assistants want customers’ postcodes. They said they needed it in the event of a refund or exchange, but the conversation went dead at their end when I pointed out that retaining the receipt performs the same function. Could it be that this isn’t the main reason?

Here’s my theory. Being a customer of a chain of bike shops is a peripatetic experience: you might pop in to one on your commute and visit another some miles away when you’re on the way back from a ride. And more than a decade ago, Evans began opening more and more branches. These days Evans isn’t just the shop you visit on your way home from a club ride or during your lunch break – it’s probably your local bike shop, too. But how did they know which areas would have a population of cyclists large enough to make an Evans LBS profitable? Perhaps it was because they already knew where their customers lived. You and I provided that information when we gave them our postcodes.

I’ve got nothing against Evans having lots of branches – they provide lots of jobs in a challenging economic climate and their existence gives cycling a greater presence on the High Street. But I’ve already got a local branch, so I won’t be giving them my postcode again.

CycleSurgery isn’t like other bike shops

February 8, 2013

“That’s for running, not cycling. There is a difference.”

Oh dear. The large, blokey manager of CycleSurgery in Shepherd’s Bush is staring at the tub of energy drink I’m holding. It’s a small bucket of Torq. Natural Orange flavour, since you ask. I give him a meek smile, which nevertheless conveys I am ill-equipped to engage in any science-based chat, and scurry to the counter.

Every so often I pop into a CycleSurgery store to buy Natural Orange flavour Torq, or indeed one of Torq’s many other delicious varieties, because most other bike shops don’t stock them. And technically, neither does CycleSurgery: Torq is kept in the Runners Need section, which operates as a separate business – hence the store manager’s friendly yet emphatic advice to this naive cyclist who has seemingly wandered into the wrong part of the shop. I could’ve got away with it if I’d only taken off my helmet and left my bicycle outside. And not worn a pair of shorts with “quickerbybike” written across the arse area.

CycleSurgery Fulham stairway

It’s an unusual encounter, but not a surprising one, because I’ve found that CycleSurgery stores are odd environments anyway. The bijou Fulham Road branch, where a helpful lady sold me a nifty USB rechargeable front light called Moon Comet this week, has a steep-ish steel staircase (see above) which is difficult enough to negotiate when you’re clattering down it in your cleats, and presumably even more so if you’re taking your bike down to the basement workshop. At the Lower Thames Street shop, I have to pay for my Torq minibucket at the Runners Need till, then go to the main till if I’m buying other stuff, which is a bit like shopping at Foyles in the 1980s. But it’s the Shepherd’s Bush store which fascinates me the most, because it has a glass cabinet where, like a museum exhibit reminding us of a crueller and altogether unbelievable age, a pair of unsellable Lance Armstrong-branded Oakleys stares out at you. The Jawbone of a terrible dinosaur.

Oakley Armstrong Jawbone

CycleSurgerys have been springing up everywhere lately. They have a whopping range of stuff, stocking everything from kids’ bikes to the type of helmets that adorn the bonces of Team Sky, and their website has a handy function which tells you which store has your desired item in stock. They should be identikit stores like any other chain, but each one I’ve used has its idiosyncratic touches, which I find endearing, despite the minor frustrations. Just don’t go in there to buy the ‘wrong’ type of powdered drink without doing your homework.

Maybe, for the benefit of all us CycleSurgery shoppers, I should write a blogpost examining which energy drinks are better suited to cycling. And call it Performance Enhancing Glugs.