Words : Phillip Hopkins & Charlie Coquillard / Photos: Charlie Coquillard - 24/11/2020
Soomom at Kingston Foreshore Cycles Canberra
You can now try on Soomom clothing before you buy at our first partner store in Canberra, Kingston Foreshore Cycles.
Phillip is the owner of one unique bike shop, from niche brands to outstanding service and a workshop working on a 48hrs turnaround. He has created a little pocket of cycling happiness, mixing old school feels and cutting edge bike technology.
His passion for cycling and his background as a high-level athlete made his boutique store the perfect place to welcome the first batch of Soomom Apparel to hit the shelves.
Discover Phillip and his universe, what it takes to start a bike store, and how to be different in a saturated market.
Hi Phillip, where does your love of cycling come from?
"I've had a lifelong passion for cycling; really, what I've always loved is the aesthetic of cycling. Literature, clothing, art. Cycling has always been different from the other sports, a gracious and a raw sport.
I stared through boyhood; at the time, I was cycling through the mountains and camping out. I was a very competitive sailor at the time, so I didn't start racing bikes until I was 20. In 1987 I did my first mountain bike competition and fell in love with it. I put aside boats, and I rode that wave of mountain biking explosion in the 90s. I loved the competition, so I raced cross country before steering towards road later on. I've only really pulled back over the last five years; One of my sons is a pro rider now, so I have passed my passion for racing to him. I only ride with him when he does recovery ride now, and even then, I max out!"
How and why did you start Kingston Foreshore Cycles?
"We lived down in the bush in Urila, and we wanted to move into town. Talking to a promoter, we found a house that could accommodate us and our sons and a retail space nearby.
Treadlie bikes in Adelaide inspired me, with super cool cafés around, lots of bespoke people from the industry, and I had this idea that I could create something unique within a retail space.
I was apprehensive because the area does not have foot traffic, so we decided to observe the site for a while before starting. After three weeks, I decided that it would be worth a shot, so we launched.
It was just a pop-up store at the start, but we've been going from strength to strength. People come from across town to see us, and that's because we offer something unique. "
When you're saying what you offer is unique, what are you referring to?
"People who come to us love that we take the time to listen to them, our shop is more like a living room rather than a bike shop. I focus on really bringing things into the retail space that you cannot find anywhere else, and sometimes even hard to get online. That's why we carry niche brands like Surly All City and Salsa. Early on, I reached SCV imports because they have a vast repertoire of niche brands; I started with only a few items and kept adding to the range.
We are small; we are in a village, and I guess people very much identify me with the space.. I give my customers time, listen, think about what they want, do not push them, and it works. We also have a nuts and bolts functioning workshop; when most shops have a 2/3 weeks waiting list these days, we promise a 48hrs turnaround.
Keeping on top of products, interests, and trends is hard work, but it pays off. I've particularly felt it over the last couple of months; people are starting to come and see me to check out what's new in stock, get recommendations on emerging trends, new cool stuff, and generally shop for unique pieces of equipment or clothes."
You have a wide range of gravel / Touring bikes for a small shop; why did you decide to head this way?
"It's our point of difference, and my take on cycling, the journeying aspect of cycling means a lot to me. Since my childhood, I've been backcountry touring on a bicycle. Long rides on various surfaces, camping, multi-days, and night trips, it was my thing.
I recently saw the rebirth of touring biking, so was thrilled to be able to support and nurture that aspect of cycling."
Why are you interested in Merino wool technology for cycling clothing?
"I think it's a wonder fabric; it can cool and warm, it's versatile, wonderful and natural material and suits many people. It fits a wide range of body shapes comfortably, and it works even in horrible conditions. When it's cold here in Canberra, I wear a merino underlayer, a merino jersey, and when I get home, I shake the frost off it, and in a few minutes, it's dry."
You can now try on and purchase a wide range of Soomom cycling garments at Kingston Foreshore Cycles. We wish Phillip the best for the future and hope to keep working with him for the many years to come.
You can find the shop online at www.kingstonforeshorecycles.com.au