Vender of the Week: Lucky Brakes

Vender of the Week - Lucky Brakes 2

Who: Lucky Brakes

Where: London, UK

Moving into their permanent shop in Woolwich town centre is a big step up for Lucky Brakes, considering before it they were in a temporary container box. But that seems just the start for John and the team, who are helping everyone within the community get together over their love of bikes. We spoke to John about how Vend has helped them get going.

Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started and what you’re all about?

We’re a social enterprise bike workshop and that came about through teaming up with cycle enthusiasts, The Royal Borough of Greenwich and Lifeline Project, a charity that supports individuals, families and communities affected by substance misuse and associated issues.

As well as offering people repairs, Lucky Brakes runs affordable maintenance classes so local folks can learn to fix their own bikes or come and spend the afternoon building a bike using new or recycled parts. These classes are free for target groups within Greenwich as part of our Community Development priorities. We also run a 10-week traineeship program to help give people employment experience and a reference. We sell bikes too.

What’s your local community like?

Local people have been very supportive of Lucky Brakes, we’ve had offers of bike donations and plenty of interest in volunteering. When I originally spoke to people in the area, I realised there are a lot of cyclists that know their way around a bike, but don’t have a shed or garden to do the work in. So it made sense to offer an environment, equipped with all the specialist tools required, for people to work on their bikes and still have someone around to help if they need it.

The Greenwich Prolific and Priority Offenders Unit and a local prison have generously provided some bikes for us to train on, and Local Government are supporting our offer of free maintenance classes in the area, so everyone can get involved!

What brought you to Vend and how’ve you found it?

I was doing research into different ways of organising the sales side of things and came across Vend. Being a start-up, the flexibility really works for us. The customisable layout is helpful too; most of our trainees have no retail experience so it’s useful to sit down together and figure out what works best. I was pleasantly surprised when a (real) person contacted me while I was checking out the demo to see how it was going and if I needed any help.

As we’re looking to do a lot of work at events over the summer the idea of having something portable really made sense. With all our tools we definitely have enough to haul around so being able to throw an iPad in my bag is just great, especially when I know I’ll be able to check the stock back at the shop. As I’m quite new to POS systems, being able to import stuff on a spreadsheet was a huge timesaver during the set up stages.

Vender of the Week - Lucky Brakes

Where does your passion come from?

I think getting on a bike really improves quality of life; there is a wonderful freedom that it gives you as well as keeping the blood pumping.

Years ago I did a bike maintenance course and remember that there was a “click” moment when, not all, but a lot of it made sense. I really caught the bug. I was working for a charity that helps homeless people at the time and managed to get some help from the London Cycling campaign to set up a bike club.

The current climate of unemployment and lack of opportunities in the UK has really hit vulnerable groups such as those with substance use and offending pasts hardest. So it’s great to be able to give people opportunities to build self esteem and gain valuable life experience and employability skills.

Lastly, do you have any advice for new retailers?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are experts all around you.

– John Cox, Manager, Lucky Brakes

Do you have an awesome success story? Share it with Amy and the 15,000-strong Vend community!

Photos courtesy of Richie May.

About Lorilynn McCorrister

Lorilynn is Vend’s Community Manager and resident music buff. Before joining Vend, Lorilynn worked in the music industry as a social media and artist manager. She loves writing, traveling, checking out live music, and, of course, communicating with Vend’s awesome group of retailers, partners and friends. You can get in touch with Lorilynn on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.