Beckenham bike shop owner looking to profit from Olympics legacy
PUBLISHED: 13:46 20 August 2012
With the successes of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Hoy firmly under Britain's belt, Beckenham bike shop owner Chris Penfold expects to see a surge in purchases at the shop he began working at aged just 13.
In an era of huge chain stores, it is difficult for independent businesses to hold their own and remain profitable but Deens Garage is going from strength to strength.
Now with the influence of the Games, Chris is preparing to stock up on models to meet demand inspired by Britain’s best Games for over 100 years.
“The Olympics were outstanding. Chris Hoy was unbelievable. If we have decent weather in September and October then I’m sure I’ll see an increase in business,” says Chris. “You don’t want it to go mad immediately because it wouldn’t be genuine interest. It would just be frenzied.”
The bicycle enthusiast believes he has sussed the secret to success: “It’s about working hard and listening to your customers. It’s about doing what you say you’re going to do. If I tell a customer that their bike will be repaired by a certain time then I’ll have it ready by that time. Meeting your promises is fundamental.”
He must be doing something right, for he has kept his bike shop profitable since taking charge 15 years ago.
Opened in 1913 in Croydon Road, the store originally sold petrol, motorbikes and bicycles, as well as providing a limousine hire service. The father-of-four admits he was always one of the shops most enthusiastic customers from when he was a boy.
“I was into bikes from a very young age and would come into the shop buying bits that no one else was buying – I guess you could say I was more involved than your average customer.”
Chris left the store at the age of 22, deciding to embark on a career as a windscreen engineer. It wasn’t long, however, until he found himself back at the garage, indulging his passion for bikes as the newly-appointed owner.
Chris, 39, said: “I wasn’t enjoying fixing windscreens and I found out the owner of the shop was selling up. I’d always liked working there and so I decided to go for it.”
Now the shop focuses primarily on the sale and repair of a wide range of bicycles, a savvy decision as demand for push bikes have dramatically grown in recent times. Chris, whose wife also works at the shop, said: “The previous owner wanted to run a smaller business and so he cut back on a lot of the services offered.
“It hasn’t been a problem as sales of bikes have increased over the past few years and so we’ve remained really busy.”
But despite the stores popularity, Chris has no plans to expand in the future. “I want to provide the best service I can. I can’t be in two places at once and I wouldn’t want to open further stores at the expense of good service.”