From a single, tiny shop to a worldwide entity: The Source can be fittingly described as a true IBD success story. Co-founder and lifelong BMX enthusiast, Rich Moore, reflects on how one idea formed by two brothers evolved to eclipse the BMX market…
Launched in 2003, The Source was the brainchild of Rich and Marc Moore; two brothers who started up their own BMX shop in their hometown of Bexhillon-Sea. Nowadays, The Source is more than just a shop. Fulfilling the needs of customers all over the world, the Moore’s also strive to give something back to the BMX scene through building and offering facilities to ride, sponsoring local riders and some of the top pros in the business. So, how did an IBD based in a sleepy seaside town become a global presence in the BMX sphere?
Going right back to the start, how did you guys come up with the idea of The Source – did you always want to start up a bike shop?
It was just one of those things that started by chance. We’d been riding since we could remember and competed all around the world. At the time Marc had
spent a few months in America teaching BMX and we had both been working for a BMX magazine, testing BMX products, among other things. Our local shop had shut not long before, so it just made sense to open a BMX shop to serve the local community and give us a platform to grow the BMX scene locally. I was at University at the time and expected to get a graduate job somewhere, but the shop just kept growing and I joined Marc after a few months to launch the website. We’ve grown every year since.
What was it about BMX that appealed to you both as kids?
The freedom to do what you want and be creative whilst also being competitive I suppose. We still love it as much today as we did then, and have lifelong friends from BMX that we used to ride with as four or five year olds at Bexhill BMX track.
How did you grow The Source to what it is today, and what challenges did you face?
I think it was just our natural instinct to grow and be competitive… we always wanted to be bigger and better. There’s no secret to our growth – we’ve had to work our arses off in every single area of the business to constantly adapt and improve, mainly by using our instinct and by learning from our mistakes. We’ve faced lots of challenges: financial, legal, IT, HR… Just about everything imaginable, but we’ve worked our way through them.
BMX in the community is obviously important to you guys. Can you tell us a bit about why that is, and how you came up with the idea for the Source Park and other initiatives?
Growing and supporting BMX has always been essential to our existence; initially as we were in a small town with an unviable market. Our only option was to create more customers. Now, we can grow through the internet and are in the process of opening an overseas warehouse, but we are still passionate about doing our bit for BMX. We spend 10% of our income on marketing; whether that be online or through putting on events and sponsoring riders. I think that’s the main reason we have continued to grow – because we always invest heavily in BMX marketing. The Source Park was one of those opportunities that just came from a random conversation and got really carried away… like our whole business really, I guess we like a challenge!
How did you start growing your international presence and make the transition from being a tiny shop to worldwide business?
We started getting some demand from Europe a few years into having our website but we really didn’t do anything to attract overseas visitors. It was only when a German BMX retailer started targeting the UK that we fought back and paid for a new website that was very localised for each individual market. The US followed soon after and took us a bit by surprise to be honest. We now spend a lot of time and effort tailoring the website for each major market, with different products, pricing, languages, currencies and so on.
Your online shop is clearly integral to your success, do you have any words of advice for other IBDs looking to maximise their online platform?
It’s hard. When we first started, it was just a case of listing a shop inventory online and getting some sales, but now websites and software are much more complex. You really need to view e-commerce as a separate sales channel and invest in it constantly to keep up.
You’ve recently announced plans to expand physically in the US, is this something we can expect to see more of in the future, perhaps other locations?
Probably not, to be honest. BMX is a niche market so it’s unlikely to ever grow enough to justify too many locations. We purposely choose a location in the centre of the USA as we don’t plan to open another there. The only question mark is Brexit and whether we might need to open an EU warehouse if we can’t fulfil orders from the UK. But, who knows where that is going to end up? You can’t plan for that right now.
So, how is business for The Source at the moment?
Really good, we’re growing internationally and our Skatepark is super busy with regulars, visitors and BMX lessons. Margins are always under pressure which means we have to work harder and smarter to stay ahead.
How do you feel the BMX market is currently faring – are there any particular challenges to the industry at the moment?
We are really positive about the outlook for BMX. The UK is a challenging market right now with really heavy discounting – sometimes below cost – online, but hopefully that’s a short-term phenomenon. It’s definitely a frustration when we invest in stock, customer service and marketing and are then undercut by someone who does none of those things. There is a lot of good stuff happening with BMX, and although things are changing with the way products are sold, it feels like everything is positive for the sport and the best brands and retailers around the world are growing.