Simon O'Hagan: Evans is seen as the Tesco of bike shops, rampaging across the land, threatening smaller outfits
Saturday 19 June 2010
I just bought a bike from Evans and now one of my cycling buddies is barely speaking to me. Evans has that effect on some people. It is seen as the Tesco of bike shops, rampaging across the land, threatening small independent outfits, greedily grabbing the lion's share of the market with its enormous stock and its economies of scale.
Evans' expansion within London has certainly been very noticeable in the past couple of years. With the opening this week of a new branch in Crouch End, it now has 21 outlets across the capital, and a further 17 in other parts of the country. An 18th - at the Lakeside shopping centre in Essex - is due to open next month. And it's not stopping at retail.
It's sponsoring sportives and bike-hire schemes, and generally seizing its opportunity. For the London to Brighton ride tomorrow, the Clapham branch of Evans will be open from five in the morning.
One complaint I often hear about Evans is that the staff lack expertise. When you open so many stores so quickly, goes the argument, you're just not going to be able to get good enough people to run them. It's acknowledged that there's a real shortage of bike know-how generally (anyone worried about getting a job should train to be a bike mechanic).But is Evans any worse than any other bike shop?
I'm not sure. In my experience, you can get good or bad bike-shop service anywhere. Often the same shop will be good one week and bad the next. I had an annoying rattle in my bike recently and the problem defeated two of the shops I regularly use - one of them a high-end independent store with an excellent reputation. The third bike shop I took it to - a branch of Cycle Surgery in Kensington High Street - succeeded in working out what was wrong and fixed it. So they are my current No 1, but I won't stop using the other two shops.
Evans is the same mixture. The branch I bought my bike from didn't do a great job of putting it together. But at another branch a few months ago I was grateful when an assistant spotted something wrong with my bike and fixed it on the spot for nothing.
And when all's said and done, Evans is a bike shop. And isn't it better to have a bike shop in a high street than just another fast-food outlet?
Simon Usborne is away
Chinese ivory trade blamed as poachers drive down elephant population by 2% a year
Twitch and shout: Birdwatchers are raving over rare birds in Britain
Investigation launched after manatee drowns at Paris zoo
Melting glaciers are caused by man-made global warming, study shows
Conjoined gray whale calves discovered in Mexican lagoon could be world's first ever documented find, experts say
- 1 Michael Brown shooting: Police shoot and kill second young black man near Ferguson
- 2 James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
- 3 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns aged 27
- 4 Cilla Black defends Cliff Richard: 'I am positive that the allegations are without foundation'
- 5 James Foley 'beheading': Met police warn public watching murder video could be criminal offence
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...
£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Full Stack ...
£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...