Dave, JR Cycles has been in business for a long time here on the Coffs Coast. Tell us about the background of JR Cycles and how you came to be involved.
JR Cycles has been around since the late 1970s. I am now a part-owner and one of two directors of the business. I’ve been involved with JR Cycles for almost a decade now, and it’s a great industry to be in.
I was very much into BMX as a teenager and started selling BMX clothing to help cover the cost of competing. A lot of the gear was not available locally at the time, and our family would sell clothing, bike frames and parts that we had sourced online. I was also working part-time at a bike shop and was offered full-time work with them at the age of 17. My step-father, Michael Peen, felt this was an opportune time for us to go into the industry together and purchased JR Cycles in 2006. We worked together in the business until earlier this year, when we moved to The Promenade for the next exciting chapter.
A few months ago you made the move into a brand new store at The Promenade. What inspired the move?
We’d basically outgrown our previous site at Toormina, so in order for the business to move forward we needed to expand. This new shop at The Promenade is great – a large, open space with plenty of natural light in a really central location. We also have the bonus of having the cycle track passing through and easy car parking should our customers need to offload their bikes for a service with us.
We also have a larger floor space to stock a huge range of bicycles, scooters, helmets and cycling gear. So for our customers, old and new, there is now a bigger and better store for all things cycling and service.
Plus, we also hire bikes out as well. So if you don’t want to invest in purchasing a new bike, you can hire one for us for a half day or full day to explore the Coffs Coast. It’s great for locals and visitors alike.
The Coffs Coast is known as a great region for riding. Tell us more about what makes it so?
We’re blessed to have amazing facilities, all within 30 minutes. You name it, Coffs has it. From long tourist tracks like the Coffs Creek cycle track to purpose built cycle lanes on the Solitary Islands Way, there are a lot of different ride types to choose from. We have some fantastic BMX tracks and the velodrome too, not to mention wonderful hills for road riders and some amazing mountain bike trails. There’s also the new skate park here for the scooter enthusiasts. Coffs is great for an active lifestyle.
Are you a local Coffs boy then?
I’m not sure when “local” means local. My family made the move over from New Zealand in 2001, and I’ve been here ever since. So I guess I’m slowly becoming a local. We love this area for many reasons; it’s a super easy lifestyle and a great place to raise a young family like mine.
We have a lot of cycling groups and clubs within the region. Are they supportive of the business?
Very much so. They’re good enough to send business our way. Much of our business comes from repeat clients and customer referrals, which is great. We’re proud to support the clubs too and sponsor a number of young BMX racers and freestyle riders. We’re always on the look out for great new riders too.
We really enjoy being a part of the big cycling community in Coffs. There are some great cycling groups, social and serious, and there are a diverse range of men’s, women’s and mixed cycling groups to be a part of. Plus, we have some fantastic major cycling events like the Coffs Coast Cycle Challenge too. We’re lucky to have this strong cycling focus in Coffs, that’s for sure.
How important do you consider it to have a digital presence?
It never used to be even on our radar, because of our loyal customer base, but now it’s too valuable not to be on social media and to have a website. The first thing people do when they need something is pick up their smart phone or tablet and search for suppliers or even research the product or service they want to purchase. So it’s imperative for us to be online and only this month, we launched our new mobile-friendly website, revamped our Facebook page and joined Instagram. So I think every business should consider their online profile, not only for opportunities, but also to service their customers better.
What’s something that people may not know about your business?
In addition to selling bikes and hiring bikes, we also stock demo bikes. This allows customers to sample high end bicycles across the range (road bikes, enduro bikes, mountain bikes) so they can make an informed decision when it comes to making a purchase. It really is the next level in customer service. It’s a great opportunity for our customer who are serious about investing in a bicycle for their hobby or every professionally, to test ride the product to make sure it suits them before purchase.
What challenges do you have from a business perspective?
The competition for business is an ongoing challenge. Online sales are a concern too. This is less the case with bikes, because manufacturers won’t honour warranties unless a bike has been purchased and assembled by a qualified bike mechanic, but parts and accessories are available online. I think the assumption may be that bike parts and accessories are cheaper online, but I’ll often be able to sell an item in store for the same price or less, so it’s always worth coming in and talking to me first.
What do you think sets your business apart?
We very much respect our customers. We pride ourselves on offering a great, friendly, personalised service. We won’t try to sell you something that isn’t going to suit your needs. We‘re very much a family bike store, with a local focus, catering to all types of riding – so it’s in our best interest to make sure your riding experience is the very best it can be.
You run the business and work six days a week. That can’t leave you much time for riding …
I wish I had more time for it. I’d always rather be on my bike. I still love BMX after a decade of it – it never gets old. Cycling is fantastic and so easy. You can ride for 20 minutes or for 10 hours. It’s a great way to switch off too. I love it.