Featurepreneur: Two People & Two Passions
By Genevieve Allen Hearn
In planning our Get Outside! issue, several independent businesses around the Valley came to mind. These are the businesses that are helping us to live our ‘best outdoor lives’ by providing equipment and services for outdoor activities. Spoke & Note in Windsor is a bit of an anomaly, as they provide bicycles and scooters, but also a collection of musical instruments and accessories. We wanted to learn more about this shop that merged two passions, and is locally owned and operated by business partners and partners in life, Tony (Anthony) and Ashley Wood.
The Grapevine (GV): The Spoke & Note is a bike and music store. Why combine these two things?
Ashley & Tony (A&T): We are both very passionate about music and missed having a local music store. Tony grew up in the local music store and Ashley went to university to study music. We really wanted to open a music store but knew that we needed something else combined with it to make it successful. All small businesses have challenges around big box stores and online shopping so we wanted to design our business around our community and needed services. We had a couple ideas of what to combine with a music store but while we were sitting over a glass of wine discussing business ideas, we came up with the name The Spoke & Note. Tony is an avid biker so we felt that this would fit perfectly! The Spoke & Note was born!
GV: What inspired or motivated you to start this business?
A&T: We both grew up with parents who were small business owners and had a strong passion for our community. That passion was instilled in us. We are firm believers in being the change you want to see in the world and wanted to practice what we preached. After having our youngest child, Tony took parental leave and we decided it was the perfect time to start planning and preparing to start a business for when it was time to go back to work.
GV: What is the best thing about running a business in a small community? Are there any challenges?
A&T: We love the connections we get to make on a daily basis with all the people in our community. Since Windsor is a small community, we have the chance to really get to know our customers and spend time with them! It’s not only about retail and service, some people pop in to have a jam, say hello to our dog Luna, or just to hang out and chat. The best part about small communities is the amount of support you get. The community has embraced us with open arms, for which we can’t be thankful enough.
Similar to other small businesses, there are always challenges competing with online shopping and big box stores. Although this is a challenge, times are changing, people are much more conscious about supporting local and want a unique experience.
GV: Windsor has seen a lot of new business in the past 5 years. Where do you see Windsor going from here?
A&T: There is definitely a buzz happening! We see new faces and families in town all the time. People who are new to the area come into the shop and can’t believe what a gem of a community we have. It’s such a beautiful and friendly place with so much to offer it doesn’t surprise us that it’s picking up the way it is. The business community is super supportive of each other, which can be rare and we think it makes it very attractive for other businesses to open up here.
GV: What advice would you give to others who are interested in starting their own business in the Valley?
A&T: Pick something you are passionate about and don’t give up on it. Embrace challenges and don’t expect them to stop. If you are excited to get up and start your day, then you’re on the right track.
To learn more, visit thespokeandnote.ca