Business, Community

Brakes put on cycle shop

The Queen St store has no immediate plans of reopening. Photo: Matt Brown.

Blenheim’s oldest bicycle shop sits dark, brown paper covering the windows.

What initially began as a “temporary rejuvenation” has dragged on at AvantiPlus Spokesman Cycles to months of locked doors.

And the doors will remain locked, until the current owner can entice a manager to the region.

AvantiPlus Spokesman Cycles owner Christian Hoff Nielsen says the shop will stay closed until a new manager and part-owner is found to run the once-successful cycle store.

Despite offering a salary and the opportunity to own the shop, he says no one wants to move to the region.

“The last manager I had in line for this shop flatly refused to come and work in Blenheim,” Christian says.

“It seems that I just can’t entice anyone to come there.

“It’s really peculiar because it’s not been one, it’s been three or four really good candidates two of which have continued working for me in Queenstown and Waiheke.”

First opened in 1984 by Bill Mitchell, the shop began its life as the Marlborough Sports store.

After a brief stint as a triathlon centre, the advent of BMX racing saw Avanti knocking on Bill’s door, seeing the beginning of a successful 30-year partnership.

But the search for a manager-turned-owner to continue the legacy is proving much harder than Christian thought.

The store is ready to go, for the right person, Christian says.

He has kept a bicycle mechanic and shop assistant on a retainer, paying them to “sit at home, twiddle their thumbs and be bored.”

“At this point we’re even looking at giving it away, but I just can’t find anyone,” he says.

Christian owns five other cycle shops around New Zealand and bought the Blenheim store for $400,000 four years ago.

He says he can’t just on sell the business due to licensing agreements.

“There are certain criteria I have to fulfil,” he says.

“One or two of the people that have looked interesting have not had the bicycling know-how to be acceptable.

“You do have to have an owner-operator that has a certain cycling background for them to be palatable for the licensed brands that we carry.”

Christian says the right person can start with a salary and get ownership rights down the line.

“What I proposed to the last person is that after six months they own 10 per cent, after another six months, another 10 per cent and so forth.

“They basically work their way into the company,” he says.

Christian says the previous owner, Bill has been “fantastic”, he feels he owes him and the spirit of the shop to keep the business in town.

“I’ve had people wanting to pledge money, and I don’t know what to say,” Christian says.

“What we want is another person to stand at the counter with his wife or his or her son, daughters, for it to be a family business.”

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