Anybody know these folks?
Up to speed on one wheel.
By Ellen Read.
17 October 2003
New Zealand Herald
© 2003 The New Zealand Herald
When the Allis boys wanted to learn to ride unicycles last summer, frustration at the difficulty in finding one prompted the family to set up its own unicycle-selling business.
Ten months later, three of the boys, aged between 9 and 14, are directors and shareholders in the home-based online business UNICycle Shop NZ, with parents Margaret and David Allis.
“We thought the unicycles were great for them over Christmas,” David Allis said.
“They weren’t stuck inside in front of computers, and we thought it would be good to teach them something about business too.”
Starting a business was a leap in the dark for Margaret and David, who live in Devonport on the North Shore.
But they knew they were on to a good idea, and thought learning the process with their children would be fun.
The original plan to import the bikes was revised to buying them from a wholesale importer and sticking to the selling side of the business.
The company buys from the importer, stores the unicycles and sells them via its website.
“Scooters and skateboards have been a craze, so we think unicycles could be the next big thing,” David said.
Most of the Allis family have taken to the single-wheel cycles.
Youngest son Luke, 5, also rides, and mum and dad are learning. Daughter Amelia, 16, is not involved. The couple have another daughter, Esther, aged 1.
David said that judging from reactions as the family ride to nearby Narrowneck Beach, the unicycles were a source of delight to spectators.
About half the company’s 30 sales have come from people seeing them out on their cycles.
They are also working on getting schools to try unicycling.
Students at schools in Paparoa and Opua, in Northland, have learned how to ride unicycles and do tricks on them.
“Our goal is to expand the market,” David said.
A former mechanical engineer, who used to work for Fisher and Paykel, he now has a raft of occupations, including being a part-time minister, director of a bible college and helping run an alternative education school and working for the family business.
Son Joseph designed and maintains the website, mum Margaret receives the orders and stock, all the children are involved in unicycle assembly, and David does the accounts.
The aim is for the business to grow to a point where it will pay the boys’ university fees.
ON THE WEB www.unicycleshop.co.nz.