Adrian Syder explains that the traditional market town accessory shop still has a role to play in the community.
Strange to say, but there are not that many accessory shops left that literally keep add-ons for passenger cars at the core of their business.
However, brothers Adrian and Mark Syder run a brace of shops that do just that in Stratton and Wymondham, Norfolk respectively. While other avenues have been explored in the past, they have not been as fast moving as the core product. “We have a few bikes outside, but they haven’t been a massive seller for us” he explained. “At the [A1 Motor Store] convention recently, we were talking about how you have to be really ‘in it’ to be a volume bike seller. One of the guys said he stocked about 200 different models – but then you get known as a bike shop”.
Curiously, while the bikes themselves haven’t been great sellers, the volume of bike accessories sold has increased greatly since stocking complete bikes, even though inner tubes and the like are products that the shops have always stocked.
Similarly, many former accessory shops have focused on being trade factors, but this is an area of limited interest to Syder. “We don’t get involved in trade factoring as we tried it some years ago, and even then it was difficult with the amount of competition” he explained. “That said, there is an industrial estate up the road with a few businesses that will dabble in and out of our store, so we have a gold card for those trade members. We also do trade-sized barrels of antifreeze, engine oil and the like. This is because it is an agricultural area and the farming community will come to us for that type of product”.
So bikes and trade sales are fringe, but where the business excels is traditional products. On the day of our visit to the Stratton branch, it was pouring with rain and it was clear that wipers represented a good percentage of sales. A bay just outside the stratton shop is easy for motorists to pull into, and Syder explains that the shop offers free fitting, which is clearly signed on the road outside. Unlike many stores, Syder doesn’t fight on price of wipers, reasoning that only stocking premium ‘blades will keep the customers happy and mean that the margin is sufficient to justify free fitting.
Stock is sourced through A1 Motors Stores, of which Syder is a long-term member, as well as FPS and direct accounts with Tetrosyl, Haynes and Draper Tools.
Other fast moving lines are the accessory shop staples of bulbs, waxes and polishes. Paints also sell well and the stores offer a comprehensive, and current stock of Haynes manuals. Draper tools, various service parts, demister pads and the obligatory display of ABS wheel trims also feature in the main displays of both shops as well as a small number of tuning and modifications, such as a functioning car audio display with a number of different head units and speakers to try out. “We have a guy that can fit the car audio if need be” explained Syder. “But it isn’t like it was fifteen or twenty years ago as the market for replacement head units has passed”.
The two stores have four permanent and two part time staff working between them, and all of them can work in either branch. “Everybody is capable of being at either branch, which I like as it gives us f lexibility” said Syder, adding that Wymondham was where the business was founded in 1988, but moved into an ex-butcher shop, which was a larger and more centrally located store, a year or two later. The Stratton branch followed soon after, and Syder briefly toyed with the idea of a third branch to sell alloy wheels, body kits and other ‘Max Power’-style accessories. “I’m glad I didn’t really, as the bottom fell out of that market!” recalled Syder. Fortunately, the car accessory side continues to grow and has been very good for us”.