The Independent London Newspaper
30th August 2014

Letters

Famous bike shop takes steps to stop time-wasters taking its advice and then buying elsewhere online

Scott, left, and Dean Simpson

Scott, left, and Dean Simpson

Published: 3 March, 2014
By PAVAN AMARA

ONE of London’s oldest bike shops has undergone a major change after being forced to adapt to new shopping trends.

Simpson’s Cycles in Malden Road, Queen’s Crescent, has changed the way their shop is structured after finding customers were asking their advice and then going away and buying online. 

Dean Simpson, 47, said: “Retail has changed – and we have to change with it. The real problem has occurred in the last 18 months, because in that time many people have bought smartphones and they’ve become savvy about apps. There are apps where they can scan the barcode in two seconds and it will tell you everywhere on the internet you can get a product cheaper. But those online businesses have no business overheads and often the product is not suitable for the UK, so hasn’t been checked properly to make sure it’s safe.”

Now, the shop – which opened in 1947, with the Simpson family taking over in 1972 – has installed a reception area where customers can discuss what they need. There’s no more nipping in to take phone photos, a wall stops them from entering the main shop, unless their intention is to buy a product. 

The reception also includes a waiting area with coffee and tea on tap, and free wifi, so customers can wait comfortably while their bikes are fixed. 

Mr Simpson runs the shop with his brother Scott, 43, son James, 20, and mother Maureen. 

Phone apps are not the only problem – there’s also parking. The family said that while residents in Malden Road paid £100 for a parking permit, they paid £400 annually, plus £400 for insur­ance, refuse and recycling. 

Scott Simpson said the shop was having problems with customers getting parking tickets and because the parking machine was regularly broken outside the shop. 

His brother Dean said: “We were told the council wanted to start a system where you need to be able to text to use the parking machine outside. That would be a disaster because then our older customers who often cannot text, would not be able to come here.”

He added: “They could introduce something similar to Islington’s roamer scheme, where if you pay for a permit you can park anywhere in the borough – that would keep people shopping locally. It all has a knock-on effect, because if they come to get their bike fixed and wait for an hour, they will go shopping in Queen’s Crescent Market and that will help the traders there.”

A council spokesman said that in the past year 22 penalty charge notices have been issues to motor­ists. He added: “This does not mean that the machine was malfunctioning, just that motorists did not have a ticket when their vehicle was parked in the bay. If motorists find that any pay and display machine is out of order they can make payment using a mobile phone or by using another of the pay and display machines on the same street.”

 

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