When I started Velotastic one of the hardest things I had was not selling to customers but getting businesses to sell to me.
I originally imported parts from contacts I had on the continent, but one of the problems I had was the consistency of supply so I decided to contact some of the leading UK wholesalers to try and source items that would fit in with the feel of my brand.
To my surprise I was hit by ambivalence at the best and downright arrogance at the worse. The nub of the problem was that I was not a bricks and mortar store (despite working out of a business centre) and was going to undercut my local bike shop. I found that this was ironic as the wholesalers I was talking to sold products to some of the biggest online box sellers out there !
The one thing I was definitely was not trying to do was compete with my local bike shop. I did and do feel that bike shops have there place and still use one on a regular basis to do the jobs I cannot do myself and buy the parts I do not stock from them.
The aim of Velotastic is to fill the gaps. It would be crazy for my local shop to carry some of the items I do, but because I have built up a reputation I can rotate my stock by selling enough to a global audience.
After speaking to several smaller online speciality retailers I discovered my experience was not unique. Many had hit this wall and had to think outside the box with how to get their venture going.
Fortunately in a way they did me a favour. It forced me to look to people who for whatever reason did not distribute via wholesalers. People like myself who were not huge corporations but micro businesses trying to do their own thing.
Please support your smaller retailers – both online and your locally run bike shops. Not all online retailers are out their with the intent of destroying the high street. Many of us want to run businesses selling goods that you cannot buy in your local stores – we want to be different.
Your business really does make a difference to us. And our profits keep the local economy going and not the share holders of venture capital companies happy.