Why this Dereham store is attracting athletes from across the UK
- Credit: Ben Walker
Not many businesses can say with confidence that they are genuine experts in their field.
But, as one of only a handful of UK firms specialising in equipment for triathlons, Tri Harder is perfectly entitled to make such a claim.
Based on Greens Road in Dereham, Tri Harder sells an extensive selection of bikes, wetsuits and running gear specifically designed for triathletes.
Despite being established 10 years ago by owner Ben Walker, the company remains relatively unknown outside of the triathlon community.
Mr Walker started training for triathlons in the late-2000s, and soon found it was almost impossible to buy certain items on the high street.
"It was a complete nightmare because it was all online," he explained. "I just could not get wetsuits and other triathlon equipment.
"Me and a friend said to each other 'why don't we start up our own place?'
"In 2011 we had our own stand at a couple of events, and then we took on the shop."
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Coming from a fitness background rather than retail, Mr Walker recalls a stressful first few months.
"It was great fun, but a steep learning curve," added the 43-year-old.
"To begin with it was difficult accepting we had these competitors online. You are asking yourself how you can compete and set yourself apart.
"Regardless of what products you have in, the thing people are most concerned about is price."
Tri Harder has gone from strength to strength over the last decade, building up a significant following in Norfolk and across the country.
Interest is also on the rise in Dereham, where the business hosts regular running and cycling sessions.
Triathlon is, in fact, said to be one of the fastest growing sports in the world, leaving Mr Walker and colleagues with a favourable market in which to operate.
"We have built a really good community," said Mr Walker. "We have customers from all over the country because we are very specialist in what we do.
"We have done bikes specifically for certain people; others have visited from Nottingham and London for wetsuits - just because we do things well.
"Now it is just a matter of increasing the product range and attracting people from further afield. The aim is to be nationally known."