I did not set out to be a retailer.
I consider myself a lapsed Biologist. I studied it at Uni and was particularly fond of the macro: animal behaviour and ecology, so what follows is meaningful personally.
My trajectory changed shortly after leaving university. I was pondering my future in science while working a weekday 9-5, supplemented by weekend bike shop work.
If it hadn’t been for a crate of beer and a drunken discussion about doing things better than our employer, myself and my then business partner may never have ended up owning and running bike shops.
Slippery is the hand of fate.
Anyway, those that know me will appreciate that I am not your typical retailer.
I don’t sell what everyone else sells. I close 2 days a week. I disagree with Sunday opening in general. I don’t Panda. I’m not here to validate opinion if it is at odds with the facts. I’m contrary, for better or worse (I sleep ok) and I like to do things differently.
This has come to the fore in recent years. As I’ve aged, what really matters has come into focus.
The constant quest for more money, more things and the immediate delivery of those non-essential “needs” (you’d be amazed at how bent out of shape people get over ‘things’ and their arrival – or perhaps you wouldn’t) has been outshone by the value of time, family, friends, space and our environment. The places we walk and ride and enjoy. It’s part of the reason I moved 90 miles from work* – best decision I’ve made aside from marrying my wife.
So, at 700 – we’re changing things up. I touched on it in my New Year blog but wanted to give it some proper space. Because it’s important.
700 have partnered with The Future Forest Company.
The FFC are – as they so eloquently put it on their website (oh, they speak to me on so many levels!) – “Unf*cking the future”.
They have lofty goals and work both in partnership with businesses and on a one-to-one basis in order to offset carbon dioxide, to restore habitats, ecosystems and biodiversity. I’ll link their site in the footer so you can find out more, but in their own words….
We exist to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, restore biodiversity and fight climate change. Our mission is to plant enough trees to remove 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by 2030.The Future Forest Company
After a turbulent few years in the industry, I have been pondering my place in it and how best I can reconcile the unabating march of capitalism with my own values. I believe we need to shift how we as individuals are ‘rewarded’ for spending money. In the case of 700, Customer Reward Points are earned based on spend and can be redeemed for discounts, services or more ‘things’.
Don’t get me wrong – these incentives are important for retailers but probably not to the extent they should be. I also believe that most of you reading this would agree. And it is for these reasons 700 is changing its approach.
It makes sense to me that since cycling is an environmentally sound method of transport and an excellent means of staying healthy, no matter how you enjoy it; and as a cycling retailer, that it should be us driving the narrative. After all, we all prefer to ride in beautiful, unspoilt natural surrounds.
So, as of February, in line with the ethos of repairing and maintaining rather than throwing away and replacing – we will plant a tree for any fixed-service undertaken on your bike – that is any Silver, Gold or Platinum service.
The costs (for these trees as well as future planting incentives) will be covered by a reduction in the rate of Customer Rewards earned. Compared to many we are generous in our program, so I feel pretty comfortable in the change – and if Rewards are going to have a negative effect on margin, I’d rather they had a positive effect on our planet.
For your part, nothing changes. You simply book your service, we do the work and on a monthly basis we will buy a tree for each service. The Future Forest Company will then undertake to plant these on your behalf, in one of several sites in the UK.
The trees will be native, broad-leaf species (birches, oaks etc) or Scots Pine where at all possible, or naturalised species to replace an extinct variant. By way of confirmation that this is indeed happening, the FFC will send you a certificate detailing the species of tree, date planted and its exact co-ordinates on this giant rock.
This planting of trees is not just a means of off-setting CO2 impact but is also part of a broader remit that encompasses the protection of Ancient Woodland, Wildflower Meadow planting and Wetland / Peatland regeneration in the UK – ultimately helping to preserve and restore biodiversity that has far reaching benefits.
Just the start
We are just beginning. I am keen to get the ball rolling but also excited to move this to other areas of the business. I have ideas!
I’ll start by simply adding TREES as a product on our website. We often find that people top-up orders with energy food or small items just to beat carriage thresholds, and I’d much rather they did that by planting a tree.
I’d also like to give folks the option to offset the transport impact of their web order deliveries by trading-in Reward Points for trees at the point of order – but this requires some technical jiggery-pokery so it won’t be immediate.
There’s plenty more too, from planting trees for bikes sold, to mileage target planting… they’re seeds of great ideas at the moment but they will no doubt grow. As ever, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what we could do.
So – start the new year off by maintaining rather than replacing and plant a tree while you do it!
Short term I’ll keep a track of Trees planted here, updated monthly, but I hope to have this at least partly automated and visible on the website too….
(**This is now automatically updated on the homepage – so forgive me if I don’t manually update this here as well….**)
You can check out The Future Forest Company here
*I drive far fewer miles now than before the move so this isn’t oxymoronic!