George Apostolou: "I don't sell price, I sell service."
Published in Centre-Presse November 21, 2008
by Laurence Chegaray
He was an eco-freak before it was cool. George Apostolou founded the Cyclamen workshop in 1977 with two associates. They were convinced that the bicycle was the future of mankind and that it could be the heart of their sustainable model. The associates have left, but George is still there. "At the time, we were located on rue Arsene-Orillard. The customer base was strictly word of mouth," he recalled. The clients would stop by the shop and find George at the back of a dingy workshop measuring 12 feet by 40 feet.
George wasn't derailed. "I believe that my original project has found meaning. The bicycle has become a serious mode of transportation." To see a cyclist in the hilly city of Poitiers no longer surprises anyone. Cyclamen moreover provided more than a few cycles for Velo Campus bikes since the start of Cap'Velo. "The municipality has moved the bike forward in the city."
The Everyday Person's Bike
Twelve short years ago, Cyclamen moved. The workshop was reestablished on boulevard Pont-Achard. Its specialty is not high-end racing bikes or the mountain bikes of champions, but the bikes of "normal people," with two French and Italian brands: Gitane and Bianchi. "I have utilitarian and leisure bikes. Besides, I don't sell every available accessory," jokes the good-natured man with his greek accent, among whose shop, on the contrary carries just about everything bicycle related. "I am a big collector of rare parts!" When you can't find something somewhere else or a piece is missing from a bike bought in a super-store, you come to track it down here." Frequently, someone calls me after having looked everywhere for an anti-derailment collar of the right diameter. I have it." He has sold electric bicycles for five years. "It's the same phenomenon as mountain biking, everyone wants to do it, but some are heavy and require assistance." George shrugs his shoulders. But that doesn't count as cycling!