Andrew Larkham has just opened Riding For Life, in the northern Wollongong suburb of Corrimal, about 70 km south of Sydney. But until recently, opening a new bike shop was not even on his radar as the next stage of his long and varied career.
“I first rode an ebike in January down in Kiama,” Andrew explained, referring to a popular seaside tourist town about 40 km south of his new store’s location.
“I hired it from Kiama Cycles. I only hired one for an hour and rode it around the hills. It was the first time I’d ever ridden an ebike. From that moment, I said to my wife, ‘I’ve just found my new business!’ and Riding For Life was born.”
At the time Andrew was running a different type of open wheeled business, motorcycle and sidecar tours, which he’d done for 2 ½ years.
For 10 years he’s also been partner in a couple of hair dressing businesses with his wife.
Prior to that Andrew had a Jim’s Mowing franchise for four years and he was in the automotive manufacturing industry for 22 years, making differentials for Holdens and Fords, in Sydney.
Originally from Penrith the Larkhams moved to Corrimal five years ago.
“Now we live in the best place in the world!” he said. “I’m a committee member on the Corrimal Chamber of Commerce. We only live two blocks from here. It’s close to the beach. I ride to work. Corrimal’s a beautiful place and the town’s fantastic so that’s why I set up the shop here.”
Riding For Life is on the main shopping street, directly opposite the largest shopping centre in Corrimal. He’s just around the corner from a bike shop that’s been established for decades, the Illawarra Cycle Centre. Andrew is only selling ebikes and e-scooters. His first three brands are NCM, Bolzzen and Kalkhoff and he hopes to add a couple more soon. He opened his doors to customers for the first time on 14th April.
“It’s been fantastic ever since I started,” he reported. I’m tracking how many customers have been coming into the shop and their age range.
“It is working according to what I documented in my business plan. I sold five bikes last week, which was really good. It’s been a little quiet this week because of the rain, but I’m still getting plenty of interest.
“On a bad day I’m getting five customers on a good day I’m getting 10 customers coming in.
It’s been going really well.
For now, Andrew is focussing upon urban commuting recreational bikes.
“The age group that I’m targeting are probably not really interested in the high level dual suspension mountain bikes,” he said.
“I want to run servicing as well. We’ve already had a couple of guys in that we’ve done some work for. I’ve hooked up with Simon from Si-Cycles. He’s a mobile bicycle repair person.”
Andrew is also hiring bikes. Since interviewing Andrew, Tern ebikes have also been added as a brand to his website.