Riding in the social media slipstream of International Women’s Day? You betcha. Although with a tonne of new female-led independents hatched over the last 12 months there’s a lot to celebrate.
In this weeks blog we are pumped to introduce indie bike shop Folk Like You. Based in Sale, Folk Like You is run by long time bike rider and L2 IMI certified bike mechanic Abby.
Stockist of super-cool bikes and accessories (can we get an amen for functional bags?) Abby set up shop last year and will heIp novice and experienced cyclist alike choose and fix the perfect two wheeled ticket to ride…
How would you describe Folk Like You to someone who hadn’t heard of it?
Folk Like You is a female-fronted bike shop for everyday people.
We offer a range of bicycles, electric bikes, clothing, and accessories. Everything we stock has been carefully selected for their blend of style and function, so that you can use your bike anytime, anywhere, for any reason, and feel awesome whilst doing it.
What did you do before opening Folk Like You?
My career has taken me from rural Aberdeenshire to Manchester via Edinburgh, Brighton, London and the Lake District. It’s involved office jobs and climbing walls, recording studios and festival stages, consulting rooms and coffee roasters, and along the way I’ve pedalled a pushbike.
Tell us about the ideas and the ethos behind the business?
Cycling in the UK has become a little bit exclusive and we wanted to change that. We want to explode the myths, explain the jargon, and cut through the BS you might encounter in cycling culture.
We believe cycling is empowering, it’s a healthier way to pick up your groceries, to get to the office, to visit your friends, to find a good pub, to enjoy the outdoors, and to blow raspberries at everyone who’s sat in traffic, shouting at the radio, as you pedal by.
Sure, Cycling is sport. But Cycling is also lots of other things too, Riding a bike is utilitarian, fun, sustainable and empowering. Cycling is for ‘Folk Like You’!!
How did you get the business off the ground last year?
Folk Like You was born out of a perfect storm of events; a move to Manchester, a morning commute where I was really challenged to think about how best to keep myself safe, a passion for more sustainable living and a firm belief that cycling is an empowering experience. Particularly for women. Ultimately, a belief that cycling is too good to be enjoyed by the few. I want to share the experience.
When did you open the shop?
Earlier than anticipated – by a decade. We had been planning a bike shop for some time, but the coronavirus put the household finances under a bit of pressure, so we thought, blow it, or words to that effect, let’s do it now.
We opened in September 2021, arguably 3 months too late having missed the springtime boom when Manchester was filled with more cyclists than it has probably seen since the 1960’s!
How did you decide where to open your shop?
Well I’m a big believer that you should try to work where you live or live where you work. It’s the easiest way to mitigate those transport headaches that put many folk behind the wheel of a car or on a rammed tram carriage. So we originally started looking in Stockport, where we live. But when it came to it, the right premises wasn’t available at the right price or with the sort of terms I could accept. So i had to think again.
As is often the way, I began to look at other parts of the city where businesses I like were beginning to put down roots. That led me to Sale, which is full of brave new independents, (and established ones too) and we just really liked the feel of the town.
At the moment, I cycle the 10-miles-each-way route from Sale to Stockport, as you might expect. But I might well be moving this way very soon.
How is the shopping experience at Folk Like You different to some other bike shops?
First and foremost we’re listeners. We want to hear how you live your life because we know that with the right bike and most suitable kit, we can help you to weave cycling into your weekly routine, and your weekend adventures.
We’re incredibly proud that through our approach, the first conversation we have with every manufacturer and provider begins with a question about ethics. We’re only interested in working with businesses, whether large or small who, like us, care for people and the planet, not simply profit. When you shop with us, you are shopping conscientiously and you are shopping responsibly.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to set up their own shop in Manchester?
Find your niche, keep it really simple and start small. Service is everything for the high street business; if a customer is confident that they know what they want they’ll very probably buy it online. But if they want your expertise, reassurance or ongoing support, they’ll come to you if you are knowledgeable, generous and approachable.
It’s well worth adding that in my experience, most tasks take twice as long as you think they will and business costs are higher than you think they will be, so it’s worth keeping aside a little money to keep things running smoothly early doors.
And finally what tips would you give to someone thinking about buying a bike for the first time?
Cycling is full of very appealing trends and fads, and that’s great, because it’s brilliant to be part of a rich and diverse community. But don’t let the trend determine what kind of bike you choose, let the bike you choose enhance the lifestyle you live, or deliver the lifestyle you aspire to live.
Also, if you’re budget-led, as most of us are, aim for the best quality bike you can possibly afford, which might mean putting a new lease of life into a brilliant, old, second-hand bike.
You want your first riding experience to go well, so give yourself the best chance you can with something well made and well serviceable, be it old or new. We love talking about this stuff, and working on projects, so if in doubt, just give us a holler!
Tucked away in Sale, Folk Like You offers a fussily selected range of urban bikes and e-Bikes from the Netherlands, Finland and the UK, alongside stylish accessories, bags that look good on or off bikes, comfortable saddles and waterproofs made from recycled bottles.