Jake's Bikes in BikeBiz

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Jake's Bikes in BikeBiz

Jake's Bikes is this month featured in BikeBiz magazine



Reproduced from BikeBiz Magazine - April 2008 - bikebiz.com

JAKE'S BIKES: The eco-approach

Is it possible to run a carbon neutral bike shop? Mark Sutton speaks to Jake Voelcker of one of the UK's
greenest cycle stores, Jake's Bikes in Bristol, to find out how much hard graft is involved in going neutral...


JAKE VOELCKER has always been
involved in environmentalism.
Once a volunteer for the
Centre for Alternative
Technology, he has always
enjoyed finding a more efficient
way of doing things.

While working for CAT,
Voelcker lent advice to
householders about insulating
homes and saving energy, and he
offered consultancy to
businesses looking to cut their
carbon footprint.

On running an
environmentally friendly bike
shop, Voelcker comments: "On a
business level it's not as though I
was already running a bike shop
and decided to make it greener.
"In fact it's almost the other
way around: a large part of the
reason for starting a recycled
bikes workshop was the fact that
it's an environmentally sound
thing to do."

"But, with increasing fuel and
energy prices and with the cost
of goods and materials predicted
to rise in the next year or two,
I'm convinced it also makes good
business sense, too.

"There's something so
pleasing about salvaging and
restoring an old bike and seeing
it being ridden away by a
delighted customer instead of it
just ending up in landfill."

Location is a vital
consideration when setting up a
bicycle business. Jake's Bikes was
placed right in the epicentre of a
cycle-friendly population.

Voelcker continues: "I wanted
a workshop without a shop-front
to keep the costs down and to
get away from the image of
being 'just another bike shop'.
"In the end I struck lucky and
found a small workshop in
Montpelier, a residential area of
Bristol where cycling rates are
pretty high.

"I have started distributing
posters and leaflets around local
health food shops and cafes,
universities, and other places
where people who are into the
used and recycled bikes ethos are
likely to look."

- - - - -

Restoring bikes is something

the majority of independents

can enjoy doing, but what else

can the IBD do to increase

margin via the green route?

  • Lower carbon equals lower


  • Limit or halt use of cars or

    delivery vans. Use a bicycle

    trailer to collect stock and

    old bikes, bought or partexchanged.

  • Separate and collect all steel

    and aluminium and sell it as

    scrap metal.

  • All paper and card can be

    separated and recycled.

  • Use recycled components

    wherever possible.

  • Use no or low level heating.

  • Inspire customers to save

    carbon as well. Make

    customers aware of

    environmental issues - all

    they need is a little

    encouragement to cycle

    more often and a little

    inspiration about simple

    practical measures. Naturally,

    building a relationship with a

    customer will never harm a


  • Re-brand yourself as the

    'green' bike shop. Encourage

    repair rather than

    replacement wherever this is

    safe and reliable, and don't

    feel you can't charge for it -

    the right kind of customers

    will still pay.

  • Build a new customer base.

    In any city with several bike

    shops, if one re-brands itself

    as being the environmental

    bike shop and advertises in

    eco magazines, health food

    shops, organic cafes, and so

    on, you will immediately

    have access to a whole new

    customer base, and one

    which is fairly affluent and

    willing to spend to be green.

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