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Hedge-blog: cashing in on the Tour de France

14th June 2014

As the Tour de France approaches, cycling enthusiasts in Britain - and particularly Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, and London - are getting excited about the race. Everywhere you go, signs are springing up advertising parking, camping, accommodation, and more. Cafes and pubs along the route are putting together packages for those who want to spend the day there, watching the race on big screens and as it comes past, and eating and drinking.

The Tour de France is essentially a free event. You stand by the roadside, and watch the race go by. For pop-up car parks, the amount that can be charged is limited by the race organisers to around £10 per vehicle per day. But there are still opportunities to make money.

In this blogpost, I'm taking a look at some of the worst deals available to cycling fans. Or maybe that's unfair. I should say that I'm going to look at offers which on the face of it are expensive. Perhaps the prices can be justified, but they seem steep to me, at first glance.

Yorkshire Trike Tours

Buttertubs, Stage 1, Tour de France 2014

This is a daytrip along the route of Stage 1 of the Tour de France 2014 on a 'Boom Trike', a motor-tricycle licensed by Leeds City Council to take two passengers. It is chauffeur-driven, and you wear a helmet with an intercom system so that Jason, the chauffeur, can point out the interesting sights along the way.

The Yorkshire Post described it as a £450 tour, and the Yorkshire Trikes website says it is £224 per person, which would be £448 for two people. This includes a gourmet picnic for lunch. The business will have some fuel and insurance costs too, but it still amounts to quite a high hourly rate.

The Wrinkled Stocking Tearoom

Wrinkled Stocking, Holmfirth

The Wrinkled Stocking in Holmfirth is offering a Tour de France package for anyone wanting to use its premises as a base for watching the race on Sunday 6th July. It opens at 8am, and you get breaksfast, lunch, a glass of champagne, and afternoon tea, for £100 per person. Tea, coffee, and water are included and available all day, and other drinks from the bar are extra.

If you value breakfast at £10, lunch at £20, and afternoon tea at £10, there's a hefty Tour de France premium. There are lots of other tearooms, pubs, and cafes offering all-inclusive deals. I haven't looked at all of them, and the Wrinkled Stocking is very likely similarly priced to others.

Yorkshire Grand Départ merchandise

The official Yorkshire Grand Départ merchandise from the Welcome to Yorkshire online shop is disappointingly (for the sake of this article) not outrageously priced. It's not cheap, either, but mostly not enough to make a Yorkshireman's hackles rise. The best/worst I can find is a cycling jersey for £65, a tea towel for £10, or a twin canopy (!) umbrella for £30. A pack of three plastic 'spokey dokeys' costs £3. If I buy the £3 note pad, I have to pay £4.95 on top of that for 'shipping' (that's postage in this country).

Team Presentation

I've already blogged about the Team Presentation. Headline prices for what is usually a free event are £45, £55, £65, and £85. Then there's a booking fee which can't be avoided (so it should really be included in the quoted price) - of £6.75 for the £55 tickets, for example. If you want the ticket agency to send the tickets to you, it'll cost you £2.50, and they send them by second class post.

House to rent near Holmfirth

Holme Moss from Holmfirth

There's a two-bedroom terraced house on the Woodhead Road, in Hinchliffe Mill, just short of Holmbridge on the approach to Holme Moss. It's advertised on Gumtree for £10,000 for Friday 4th to Sunday 6th July, and they want 90% of the money up front. Even if this is genuine, it seems an awful deal.

Prints of a painting by the official Tour artist

Côte de Buttertubs - a bit steep?

Welcome to Yorkshire's Tour site has announced that Alister Colley has been named Official Artist of the Grand Départ 2014. Colley, working out of Pateley Bridge, has produced an official painting to celebrate the occasion. It features Yorkshire's rolling landscapes, full of cyclists pedalling past local landmarks. It looks like a nice picture.

Now for the money moment (as I believe Tim Wonnacott says on Bargain Hunt). They are selling 2014 limited edition, framed prints. The bigger ones, 36 by 18 inches, cost £1,100 each, and there are 1,007 of them. The smaller ones, 26 by 13 inches, are £650, again with 1,007 on offer. If they sell all of them, they'll take £1,762,250. £1.7milllion! Yes there are framing costs, but still.

Artists and Illustrators website has an article about limited edition prints, with a 'What do I charge?' section. The advice is that if the original sells for £500, 'you should probably not charge much more than £50 per limited edition print. If your originals sell for more than £1,000, you could charge at least £50 within a smaller limited edition. "Prices tend not to go over £100 too readily."'

Perhaps these prints are good investments, which will be worth much more in years to come, but the asking price seems steeper than the Côte de Buttertubs.

What do you think? Are these offers expensive, or about right? Do you have any examples of hefty asking prices for Tour-related goods or services?

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