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Helping people to keep up with the habit of shopping locally: the Argyll and Bute Gift Card

The Argyll and Bute Gift Card can be spent with over 100 businesses across Argyll and Bute, including Helensburgh Cycles

Founded in 1994 by Alex McNee, Helensburgh Cycles is the town’s only dedicated cycle shop and is now jointly run by Alex and his daughter Kirsteen Hutcheson. Kirsteen said:

“We heard about the Argyll and Bute Gift Card and thought it was a good thing for the area. Like lots of businesses, we sell our own gift cards, but if you don’t know what to get someone, you can buy them an Argyll and Bute Gift Card and they have a choice of lots of businesses. With an Argyll and Bute Gift Card in their hand, someone might opt for a bigger purchase, or try a business they’ve never been to before. Then it’s down to us to encourage them back.

“As well as selling regular bikes for kids and adults, we also sell electric bikes, all from entry level to high end, bike accessories and we have the servicing side too. January and February are always quieter times for us. It starts to pick up on the bike sales from March to September but the workshop is busy all year, and that’s what keeps us going.

A way to explore the area

“People can also use their Argyll and Bute Gift Card on bike hire as we hire out electric bikes and mountain bikes for anything from an hour to 2 weeks. Locals often hire the electric bikes and bike hire is popular with visitors who can then head off to Loch Lomond for the day. It’s a good way to encourage visitors to the area, and they can get a whole experience with one gift card.

“The way people buy has changed. Back in the day, my mum and dad would be delivering hundreds of bikes on Christmas Eve but now there is so much competition. What you get when you buy from a local business like ours is a high level of service that you just can’t get online. If there’s a problem with your bike, you can come in and see us. A bike is a big purchase, so the service side makes a big difference. Over the years, customers have become good friends, and we have some customers who are the third generation to shop with us.

Helping people to keep up with the habit of shopping locally

“Cycling was one of the lucky trades in the pandemic, as we were allowed to stay open for repairs and for people to collect orders. There was a big boom in bikes as everyone wanted to get out in their local area but other businesses in the area were doing local deliveries and meeting the needs of the community in other ways. It was predicted that there would be a surge in second hand bikes for sale, but it seems that most people are hanging on to their bikes and keeping their healthy habits, and I hope that through ideas like the Argyll and Bute Gift Card, people will keep up with the habit of shopping local too.

“It’s true what they say about shopping local. If you buy with the big online retailers, that money is gone, but when you spend locally, you’re supporting families and people that live in the area who in turn support other businesses. There’s the feel good factor too, I know myself that when I shop locally, it feels good to know you’re supporting the area, but you also get to know people. I can’t imagine what Helensburgh would be like without our independent businesses, and if we all get behind the Argyll and Bute Gift Card, we can keep more money here locally and support our home grown businesses.”