Recently something very exciting happened! One of my favourite cycling related people collaborated with Giant and opened a brand new store on Loughton high street!!!
Therefore I am in my element, and I have spent some afternoons over the last 2 weekends hanging out with Matt in his store, attempting to interview him, forcing him to have his photo taken (sorry Matt) and trying to help him out a bit when there have been multiple customers in the shop… Yes multiple customers! How exciting!
I caught up with Matt to find out a little more about him and why he has opened a new bike shop, as well as getting some of his thoughts about the future of cycling shops on the high street, Giant as a brand, and his future plans for the store…
Mmmmmm, life plan! Not sure I ever had one of those! Certainly as a child I always wanted to own a bike shop and was fascinated by them… In terms of current decision, after 35 years of living in Loughton I think I felt it was time the high street and surrounding area had a dedicated cycle shop and Giant being the great brand and factory they are, well I couldn’t ask for a better partner… The product is always spot on and year after year it is market leading. I also think having spent a lot of time in Taiwan where Giant stores are on almost every street corner in Taichung I think this may have played on my subconscious a bit.
I love the independence of the Liv brand while still being firmly a giant product, Giant for me is the right mix of Tech/Function and all round package… Plus they have some real category winning bikes.
Did you always have your heart set on a shop in Loughton? What influenced your decision on the location?
Honestly… 10 years ago it probably would have been too tough, but attitudes have changed and its a very different market now, both locally and nationally… I think in terms of what influenced the decision I saw the local change in views towards cyclists/cycling, there have been more events locally, greater use of Epping forest and other woodland in close proximity… In short I think the space is there now and the market, although still very competitive has moved in our favour.
Personally I love to go into the shops and see bikes for myself, trial them out and get a real feel for them, however with so much emphasis on internet retailing do you think there is still a high demand for local high street cycling stores? What are the benefits to buying in store vs online?
Personally I’m going to go out on a limb early here and say I think it’s going to change. I’m not 100% sure how… But from my own personal perspective the convenience that the internet delivers has done its job very well… However, I truly believe that customers now more frequently require more information than before, along with social interaction and a sense of belonging… The internet isn’t so good at that bit!
I’m not naïve, I know the market is tough, but a mix of propositions and tacks is now needed and I don’t think its one vs the other in that sense! But there is a place for someone who can do both and add value elsewhere as well.
As social cycling attracts a large number of participants will you be organising any group rides from your shop?
Yes! This kinda follows on from my ramble above, shop rides in my mind have always been something that have take place by default, for me, over the next year it will be a case of publicising this and making sure we get as many people as possible involved at all levels, all the time! This helps to make people feel part of something bigger which something I personally am very focussed on within the business… As a side note we also plan to open a “club house/garden” in the courtyard we have later this summer, this will give people a place to meet pre/post ride and watch all this years cycling live, in what we hope will be really nice surroundings! (More to follow on that)!
What’s your favourite Giant/Liv bike and why?
This year I would have to say the Trance E+ 2 pro! It’s been my first time really riding an E- bike and I’m sold… It’s a fantastic way of increasing your ability and getting more miles in the legs faster!
Is there any advice you would give to someone wanting to start cycling?
Put the TV remote down… Start now! Don’t waste another day not cycling!… Don’t worry about being competitive if that’s not your thing, just enjoy the freedom and head space cycling brings.
What do you perceive to be the main challenges to cyclists at the moment?
Personally, working 7 days a week is the biggest challenge for me!
Do you plan to stock any other brands of cycling apparel? (How about Primal?) Plenty of plans, nothing is set in stone as yet as this tends to be a bit of a moving fest season to season… Clothing is a very personal thing too and there’s a lot of movement within this sector currently so it will be interesting to see what happens with some brands in the short term.
Why should I shop at Giant Loughton?
18 years of industry experience at all levels across the industry, and a fun relaxed atmosphere… More stock than you can shake a stick at and longer term it will be a wider base for the cycling community…
Coffee or hot chocolate?
Long steady rides or short sharp blasts?
Post ride recovery shake or real food?
Stand out cycling kit or blend in with the crowd?
First ever bike?
So now you know everything about Giant Loughton and a fair bit about Matt too! His shop is open 7 days a week, so if you are in Loughton or the local area why not pop in, meet him and browse the pretty bikes… I do confess that all the time I’ve spent in the store has helped me to make a decision on my next bike and it’s currently on order! I can’t wait!
This post is not sponsored or paid for in any way! I have a genuine and organic love for the Liv/Giant products and having known Matt for a good few years I can say with no hesitation he is brilliant! I firmly believe in supporting local bike shops and it’s great to see such an amazing new store up and running on the high street!