The reality was it was a well choreographed 30 min slot in Andy Street’s busy schedule but it meant more than that for both us and him I think.
I work for The Electric Bike Shop and I currently (there are plans for more!) oversee our Solihull store in Knowle and our new store in Sutton Coldfield. Business is good despite COVID restrictions, pandemics and a brutal time for the high street and retail in general.
Therefore it is of no surprise to us that our new store has hit the ground running, generating a lot of local interest and sales despite some restrictions on stock availability.
We are currently selling ebikes due for delivery in October, November and beyond
The Mayor of the West Midlands was up for election in May but due to COVID it was put back a year and he’s now back on the campaign trail. Some weeks ago his office contacted us and despatched Alex Yip, a city councillor and Mr Street’s campaign manager. He came and saw us, had a chat, took a test ride and pledged to try and get the Mayor out to our shop.
The benefits and positive PR of coming to see us are obvious. A solid, local, retail success story on his manor and with him trying to secure a massive giga-factory for Coventry at the moment, electric bikes, electric scooters, air quality and active travel in general are just some of the positives both parties are trying to encourage within the West Midlands. It made absolute sense then he ticked that box on his campaign trail and popped in. Thank you Alex Yip for honouring his pledge.
This week we had confirmation it was on for yesterday, 12 noon. And if by magic, to the second the Mayor arrived in a Jag (built in Castle Bromwich!) with Alex, a colleague and his PR man taking photos, video and notes.
I have to say that I expected the time to be a bit of a political photo call with a couple of soundbites but I was genuinely surprised how engaged and interested he was in our business and electric bikes. He seemed pretty down to earth and genuine. He asked me if I cycled to work, I think with the expectation I was going to say no but I told him I’d cycled 20 miles that morning on ‘his’ blue route along the A38 into the city. He was really interested in my route to Sutton from there. I told him I used the A5127 but he knew about the traffic-free route via Pipe Hayes park and Newhall Valley Country park which impressed me. I did mention that there are not enough of these routes though and they need to be joined up properly to work. A point noted and agreed.
We moved onto electric bikes and how they work and he took one of our best sellers out for a test ride. It blew him away as it does most customers. He was really impressed by it but with ten minutes to go his entourage were getting a bit twitchy so we had a couple more photos taken outside the store and that was it. Done.
So a press release will be written and sent out to a host of media channels next week and he’s gracefully shared the photos of the meeting with us too which we can use for a bit of own PR online.
Politics aside whether you like him and his policies or not, it is great to see a leader that lives in Birmingham, genuinely engaging with local business to promote healthier living, active travel and cleaner air.
I liked him.