CYCLE STATION SHIFTS UP A GEAR

Written on the 1 December 2015 by Jenna Rathbone

CYCLE STATION SHIFTS UP A GEAR

CYCLE Station owners Terry and Jake Wolki took an unorthodox approach when they bought the Albury business in 2011.

Rather than sticking to something they knew and about which they were passionate, the businessmen decided to take a buy in with a blank canvas.

The strategy has paid off, with the business growing annual bike sales from 700 to more than 4000 in the past four years.

It has been a lack of prior experience in the cycling industry that Jake Wolki says has been vital to success.

"One of my father's rules for a business is to buy something that you are totally not interested in personally," says Wolki.

"I think that has really worked for us because we have come into the industry with no preconceptions.

"We didn't not service a part of a market because we thought it was less trendy or we didn't like that sort of product. There was no baggage; we just had a blank canvas and I think it was pretty sound advice from my father."

As one of Australia's largest bike shops, Cycle Station boasts more than 1200sqm of retail space, with more than 750 bikes on display at any given time and an extensive range of parts, accessories and cycling clothing.

Wolki attributes the growth of the business to hard work and investment in staff and customers.

"My father and I are workers - we probably worked seven days a week for the first three years because I believe there is no substitute for hard work," says Wolki.

"Some people say that you have to 'work smart, not hard', which is a very popular thing to say, but I don't believe it at all.  Smart has its benefits but by working hard you will get rewards no matter what.

"Also, one of my core mantras in my personal and business life has been 'never say no', so I have never let a customer walk away without a deal.  If I have to drive the bike to Bright, which is a two and a half hour round trip, then I am going to do it. I will do whatever it takes to get the job done."

One of the challenges Cycle Station is facing is the popularity of internet shopping.

Wolki says that while the cycling industry in Australia is growing, bricks-and-mortar retailers are generally struggling although he partly blames this on poor customer service.

"We are really trying a fresh approach - we have a happy store where all of our staff are getting on, there is good music and everyone is having a party," he says.

"So many similar stores in the industry are filled with staff that are just complaining about online.  We are all getting smashed by online prices but we just explain to the customers that we need to charge more to cover costs.

"And we ask them: where are your kids going to work in 10 years' time?  Are they going to go and work in America, where you want to buy this bike from?  Or are we going to employ them here after high school?"  

Wolki says over the years the store has built relationships with hundreds of local customers who no longer look online because they know the deal they are getting at Cycle Station is fair, and they enjoy the service. 

Cycle Station aims to stock a bike for every person and purpose, from those purchasing a first bike for their kids to BMX bikes, commuter bikes, competition road and mountain bikes, and electric bikes.

This is complemented by a workshop service department as well as a café - Café Musette. The café was opened in December to encourage more customers into the store and has become a thriving business in its own right.

The workshop is open seven days a week and is equipped to service and repair all makes and types of bikes, with bike mechanics available for personal consultations.

Among its achievements, Cycle Station was one of the first stores in Australia to offer the fully modular and interactive GURU bike fitting system.

The system enables cyclists of all ages and experience to find the perfect bike and riding position to match their personal preferences and body geometry.


Author: Jenna Rathbone
About: Jenna Rathbone is a Queensland-based journalist who writes on a range of issues including business and property affairs and social issues.
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