Devoted to helping female customers make the most of winter riding, the first in the series of women specific shopping events was held last night at Evans Cycles’ central London Store on Mortimer Street.
Arriving promptly at 6pm in the hope of gaining a free goody-bag packed with cycling essentials, I was greeted by 50 other girls with the same intention – the last bag handed to the girl in front of me – bugger, this event is popular! It wasn’t the end of the world though. As my Brompton was whisked from me to be stored safely in the workshop, a glass of Prosecco filled my now empty hand as I was guided through the store to join the introduction.
Aiming to cater for new and experienced riders alike, the ‘One for the Girls!’ events held across the country over the coming month, will provide women with a private shopping and Q&A session.
Michelle Arthurs, Social Media Specialist at Evans Cycles, explains “We’ve seen a sharp rise in the number of women buying bikes and we are really excited to see so many more women out cycling.”
“We know that British Cycling are doing a lot to encourage female participation in the sport, and we are keen to do everything we can to cater for this growing audience.”
A cyclist herself, Michelle says:
“I’m aware that there are times when the sport can seem very male dominated, these events are a chance for women who ride to get together, meet each other, and even plan rides if they want to. We hosted a similar series of One for the Girls events over the summer in London, Cardiff and Manchester, and they were a great success – if these go well, we would like to look at rolling them out to more stores.”
I got chatting to a couple of other ladies on arrival, one of whom had only started cycling 3 weeks prior after purchasing a hybrid following a brief stint living in cycling-fuelled Finland and keen to ask some questions about her new hobby. Whilst another, a keen road cyclist looked for a bargain, wishing to use her 20% off accessories offer for the night.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to hear much of the intro or the first talk – crammed into one of the smallest parts of this very large store, the small voice of the manager was swallowed by those who’d gathered around her to absorb her knowledge on performance wear.
Everyone else busy with the talk or shopping, I decided to grab another member of staff and ask what women’s specific road bikes they had in store. Not once, but twice I was told to ‘look online’ in answer to my queries… I can’t tell you how much this frustrates me considering I was stood in front of the sales person, in the store!
Shopping for bikes is never easy for me, especially at a pint sized 5’2”. However, I was hoping this event would prove that experience different. I proceeded to ask the sales guy to show me what bikes I could possibly try for size that evening, coming up short (no pun intended) with x1 carbon frame (of a low end brand and entry model) in a suitable size. ‘You could try the larger size’ he claims… ‘erm, somehow I think I’d be wasting my time’ I responded, a little miffed at the lack of knowledge. Although, to be fair, he was only doing the best he could in light of the lack of products to play with. I guess I’ll just have to ‘look online’.
On paper, what sounds like a great event and clearly draws the crowds, fell short in a number of places for me. Maybe I had high expectations, but after chatting to some other attendees I wasn’t alone.
The women’s bikes were packed tight, were limited in brand and size (apparently Evans only stock ‘popular’ brands – although I’m not sure I’d count Jamis as one of those, yet that was the only brand available in my size that evening). They weren’t easily accessible to look at (chained to the stand), to find out more about or even try.
Their women’s specific brand section was small in comparison to the store (let’s say 1/10th) and there was no effort to demonstrate further the products. I was baffled as to why they hadn’t ordered in additional stock or brands for the evening; after all, this was a women’s specific shopping event.
The product talk was orientated at the performance cyclist, and it appeared to be the only talk of its kind at the very start of the evening. There also didn’t seem to be much opportunity seized on the community aspect of 60+ female cyclists gathered in one central place.
I’m a tough customer, I know that – I know what I want, and I know my size, but I was also expecting a lot more of a women’s specific cyling event. However, as Michelle had earlier pointed out, this is a step in the right direction, and hopefully they can only get better.
One for the Girls! will be at the following stores over the next coming weeks – let us know how you get on if you attend:
Guildford, Monday 18th, 6-8pm
Wimbledon, Tuesday 19th, 6-8pm
Reading, Wednesday 20th, 6-8pm
Trafford, Thursday 21st, 6-8pm
Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!