BRU: A Showroom Experience

Vince Wong | 19th Jun 2015 | FEATURES

The Flagship Store for Moulton, Tyrell & Airnimal

Step into a typical bike shop and you’ll expect to see an interior filled to the max with product: new bikes, tires, pumps, shoes, accessories, advertising materials, and maybe some grime courtesy of the typical bike mechanic area in the rear, with bikes in various states of disrepair waiting for attention.

Step into BRU at Block Number 9, Yishun Industrial Street 1, #01-77, though, or their new shop, BRU2 at 67 Frankel Ave, and you’ll feel more like you’ve walked into a musuem of sorts.

For one thing, there’s the abundance of white space all around. White floors, white walls, white lighting, and white furniture, make this space look bright and cheery. It’s the Apple Store aesthetic writ large, except instead of shiny sexy computers, you have shiny sexy bikes.

And have we mentioned the white space? As in there’s plenty of room to walk around the bling on show. All of the bike paraphernalia here are displayed by brand, if by ‘display’ we mean carefully arranged and thoughtfully placed.

Then, there’s the art to go with the bikes. At the Yishun shop, a sport-model orange Tyrell with blue handlebar tape is adorned by a gilt-framed embroiderated vase of flowers. It speaks to you – a potentially jolting juxtaposition of cold technology and warm culture, reconciled by colours, textures and tones.

A beautiful lattice-frame Moulton hangs in the air, such that a painting of 4 Chinese ladies playing flutes behind catches your eye, as ladies often try to do. Behind the cashier, a jigsaw puzzle self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh stares ruefully over the counter, as if telling you to deal now with buyer’s remorse, or forever hold your peace.

In the shop’s only nod to pop culture, a life-size print of Tardis is plastered right next to the stairway up to the 2nd level, where full-sized bikes are shown, putting you in mind of potential transcendental dimensions located just within. It really opens up the room. The irony is delicious.

The bikes are also displayed in what can only be described as an aesthetically pleasing manner. You move from one bike-brand-island to another, as though strolling through sections of the Louvre. It’s not unlike admiring sculpture, from the eye-catching Moultons to the sleek Tyrells, to the bold strokes of Airnimal frames, then Tern and the entire range of Dahon bikes, in a display station resembling windowed architecture. Stand, admire. Move on to the next exhibit.

It’s the Apple Store aesthetic writ large, except instead of shiny sexy computers, you have shiny sexy bikes.

We spoke to Daniel Low, one of the owners of BRU, who takes care of the commercial side of things, to uncover why this shop experience has been designed just so, and found out that the purposeful design doesn’t just end with the physical look, feel, and layout of the shop.

Beyond the bikes

TGP: You describe BRU as a social enterprise. Can you elaborate on exactly how BRU is social and enterprising?

Daniel: We will admit that first and foremost we are doing this to make a business of it, to make money. But we also hope to do good and impact the community around us – that is our larger objective.

We don’t try to be too airy-fairy about it. First, we decided that the bicycle lifestyle business is something we think we can do. We want to make BRU the kind of place where people can come and buy bikes, plus other things that help them achieve their larger objectives, such as attaining fitness goals.

So we try to bring in products that achieve these goals. For example we recently found a partner to bring in Striiv Fusion, a brand of fitness bands. And while we try to bring in nice brands, we don’t bring every model in the brand, only those we like and think can fit this lifestyle.

We also want this business to be a platform for the things we like. We like art, and bicycles, beautiful things.  So we try to find nice pictures to put up. We want to make this a beautiful place that people would like to come to. We are hoping to reach out to arts groups. We are starting to see many spaces where people put their art up for exhibition or even for sale.  And we have the space. It can be their space.

Speaking of ‘social’, we have already supported one event last month, a blood cancer donation drive. Usually they come to us, to see how we can help. Primarily we help with prize sponsorship. For example, for the donation drive last month, they asked us to sponsor auction prizes, so we gave away 2 bikes. I wrote about it and posted it on our blog.

In August, we are partnering with Methodist Welfare Services ‘Wheels for Good’ as sponsors. Registration just opened and publicity is ongoing. We’ll be giving some bikes that they can use as prizes for their fundraising efforts. You can read about it here.

TGP: Why did you choose to open BRU in Yishun?

Daniel: There’s a young population here, nicely served by park connectors, and it’s near to Seng Kang, Punggol, all these new towns. We are also glad to announce that Yishun has been selected to be the next cycling town, like Tampines.

TGP: We notice that you have secured dealerships with a number of brands. Tell us about your range of products, what readers can expect in future, and just why you’ve chosen to display them this way?

Daniel: We reached out to the various bicycle distributors, we explained our concept to them, we tried to show them what special things we can do for them, and Moulton, Tyrell, and Airnimal actually designated this place their flagship store.

We are constantly improving. It’s a shop-in-a-shop concept. We won’t just sell products, we try to curate other products within the shop, and put everything together to complement each other, so that there aren’t directly competing brands grouped together. Everything is blended together so you have a nice collection and selection based on style and taste.

We actually display the bikes nicely, we have foldables down here, full sized bikes upstairs; more brands are still coming in. We are bringing, in Q3, the French bike brand, Time, fully designed and built in France. We are also bringing in big-wheeled kick scooters (Swifty Scooters) in Q4.

This is a completely designed retail experience applied to the cycling scene. Ultimately it’s to make it enjoyable for the customer and for ourselves, and also for the community at large. The majority of our audience will be those who already know what we are selling.

I’ve had some retail outfits contact us. They say our beautiful bikes can go hand in hand with the things that they carry, and want one for their window displays. We are still talking it out to see how we can collaborate together.

TGP: Okay, one last question, why did you call it BRU?

Daniel: We are just a group of like-minded individuals who like bikes. We played around with the words “something-R-Us”, “Bikes-R-Us”, “Bros-R-Us”, so very quickly we settled on the name BRU. Sometimes people call us ‘B-R-U’, some people call us ‘brus’, or ‘bros’. Our newsletter is called ‘What’s BRU-ing?’

There are many ways to interprete the name, just like there are many ways to inteprete art. Somehow, the name just fits the store concept.

 

Shop Locations & Hours

BRU (North) Tel: +65 67173928

Blk 9, Yishun Industrial St 1, Northspring Bizhub, #01-77, Singapore 768163

Opening hours: Mondays to Saturdays, 11:30am – 7:30pm (closed on Sundays and Public Holidays)

 

BRU2 (East) Tel: +65  64436284

67 Frankel Ave, Singapore 458194

Opening hours: Mondays to Saturdays, 11:30am – 7:30pm (closed on Sundays and Public Holidays)

Website: www.bru.com.sg

Ultimately it’s to make it enjoyable for the customer and for ourselves, and also for the community at large.