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interesting business article on the new wave of bike shops(23 posts)

interesting business article on the new wave of bike shopsColnagoFE
Feb 13, 2003 6:20 AM
http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36%257E33%257E1176253,00.html
Kind of sad.....PEDDLEFOOT
Feb 13, 2003 6:34 AM
...if this does drive alot of the small LBS out of business.I know the guys that own my LBS are dedicated cyclsts and love the business that theyre in.They've dedicated they're lives to cycling and to see something like this happen in my area would probably have a big affect on them.Maybe I'm old fashioned but I still think that the local businesses need to have our support.The giant chains won't have the personal touch that the LBS does IMO.Support your LBS.
re: interesting business article on the new wave of bike shopsJS Haiku Shop
Feb 13, 2003 6:42 AM
good article ruined by lack of attention: "...Culnago, Lightspeed and Merlin." typical of sending a non-cyclist to write a piece on cycling. acutally, more typical of a detail-oriented job being done by someone not suited to it...and, while i'm b!tching, what about the proofreader and editors?

things are sure different in this part of the country. the "big box" stores are more "sportsman" oriented, i.e. hunting and fishing, and the large sports retailers are geared toward the masses: bikes barely above department store quality, but quadruple-priced, and one-step-above entry level everything else (weights, rollerblades, hiking stuff, and ball sports, plus handguns).

"ma and pa corner bike shops" are all we have around town, and they run the range of wholly unacceptable to moderately capable, regarding build and service. the ones that carry sought-after frames, and provide build and service that you'd skip other shops and drive across town for, are the ones that offer prices way way way over "retail". you typically don't see $4000 bikes on top of $2000 cars in their parking lots--it's mostly this year's volvo or european SUV. strange market, this.
pretty interesting....funknuggets
Feb 13, 2003 7:29 AM
This is interesting. I've often thought about what the ma and pa shops could do in the off months to complement their cash flow spikes in the summer and around christmas. I hadnt thought about the spinning angle, but not a bad thought. The bike shops that I know, however dont have near enough footprint to pull something like that and it would be interesting to see how "popular" the spinning is to those who already have trainers or rollers at home. Definitely interesting, but will be more interesting to see how this one flies, but I dont think most traditional markets in anytown usa could support such a monster.

chris
Size of the shop or who owns it aren't my issues.dzrider
Feb 13, 2003 7:13 AM
I patronize local shops based on their involvement in cycling. Are they at races, charity rides, triathlons? Do they have group rides or spin classes? Is their name on the sponsor list for the "Bicycle Coaliion"? They don't have to do all these things, but they have to do some of them to earn my business and more important for me to send newbie friends to their shop.
Supershops don't work around here...eschelon
Feb 13, 2003 7:15 AM
One dude who owned multiple bike shops in the Detroit area/county opened up a supershop...man, it was huge...it could've fit 15 regular bike shops...it went out of business real quick. Don't know the details...don't care.
I want a "culnago"Bill RHIT
Feb 13, 2003 7:16 AM
I didn't know that there was a new high-end "Culnago" out there. I wonder if they have those new high power stays on them as well. Maybe even a warranty.
I got a "culnago" look.....african
Feb 13, 2003 7:34 AM
I'm spoiled...biknben
Feb 13, 2003 8:00 AM
When I have money to spend I go to just one store. It's a half-hour away. The previous manager is a good friend. I ride occasionally with the current manager. I know all the guys that work there and they know me. My daughter rides the bikes around the store when I take her. I can sit on a bench and just BS for hours. If I need something done fast, I show up with hot chocolate and bagels and my bike goes in the stand immediately. Last week he called me at home to let me know he was placing an order and asked if I needed anything. I'm beginning to realize I'm spoiled.

I can think of 5 other stores that are closer. I even pass some while going to my store of choice. You could build a mega-shop next to my house. If it doesn't make me feel good when I go in, I'm not going back. They should remember me and what I ride. If I tell them what I'm looking they should be able to recommend the appropriate products. I shouldn't have to wait till next week for service to be done.
"Culnago" - a generation of journalists raised on Phonics (nm)terry b
Feb 13, 2003 8:03 AM
No one needs to champion the small businessesonespeed
Feb 13, 2003 8:04 AM
These are the same issues that were raised on Starbucks, Barnes & Noble and the other big corporate chains. Those fears have been proven largely unfounded in recent studies. There are more independent coffee shops now than before Starbucks started their expansion and the smaller book stores are still just small bookstores. While there may be an impact on some aspect of the smaller business, there will always be a market outside of the corporate business model.

No one needs to champion the small businesses. The small businesses just need to keep plugging away at it. No one is going to hand the little guy money, they have to earn it through good service and respect for the customer.

You dont go into a small business thinking you are going to make a million dollars a year-otherwise you would have put your money into a McDonalds franchise-you do it because you have an overwhelming desire to make a living working in a niche market.
Change happens--its a fact of lifeKristin
Feb 13, 2003 8:14 AM
Our world, our nation and our economy have been in constant motion since their foundation. Mom and pop shops do not have enough power to stop time and change the laws of the universe. Lets face it, the internet has changed everything. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, the world isn't ending. Though it seems that way for some when they find themselves paying the price of change. But think about this. Just because a mom & pop shop goes out of business doesn't mean we won't be able to find a good wrench ever again, or that no one will exist on the planet to can properly fit a road bike again. The big box man know's who's out there...knows the local talent. The big box man also knows that customers will follow a wrench, before they will follow a shop. So he wants that wrench and he wants his customers. The wrench won't be out of business.

I disagree with the shop owner in the article who commented that his shops would stay in business because of customer loyalty. Home Depot has already proved that customer loyalty is a steaming crock of you know what. This mans shop will stay in business only if he provides a valued service that his customers can't find elsewhere. But any shop owner who thinks he can charge 25% more for a wheelset than the big-box man, and that his customers will buy his wheelset on principle alone, is deluded. Cyclists will buy components where they are cheapest. Not because we're mean; but because we're wise and frugal. Small shops have to specialize and find that niche where the big-box can't compete. If they do this, then they will remain until the they decide its time ride off into the sunset.
Yeah, but don't you defeat your own argument?retro
Feb 13, 2003 8:35 AM
A new REI where I live has, in three years, killed more than half our local bike shops, and I hear two of the remaining three are operating month to month (the other is run by a guy who made his money somewhere else and does it as a hobby). They all offered better service (though not necessarily better mechanics) than the REI, but failed anyway because so many people are conditioned to buy on price alone. One of them was more than 40 years old.
You talk about an owner who "thinks he can charge 25 percent more," but that's not usually the case. One of the LBS owners told me he knew the day REI opened that he was cooked, because they were SELLING components for less than he PAID for them. They buy by the hundreds or thousands, and he bought by the pair. No way he could compete. And while we might pay extra for great service on an expensive bike, the average person on a $275 mountain bike will take the $19.95 tune-up every time. There are way more of them than there are of us, and mediocrity wins again.
Not at all. We are in agreementKristin
Feb 13, 2003 8:56 AM
The point I was making is that the little LBS can't be competitive in the components market any longer. Basically, unless the LBS merges with other LBS's, he must find some other way to make money. If he can't, he goes under. Sounds like none of the shops in your area found anything to offer that REI couldn't. Too bad. I think there are niche's to be had. For instance. There are some shops in Chicago that I doubt will ever go out of business. One of those is Licton's. This shop sells almost exclusively custom builds and everyone who rides a $1000+ bike has heard the name. I hope to visit them one day and get a great bike when I have the money and a big enough goal. Another is CBike. They sell high zoot bikes online and racers really like them. Another is a shop in St. Charles that can build and wrench ANYTHING with wheels, even wheelchairs. See... Niche.

It sounds like your area either lacked good mechanics or doesn't have enough cyclists riding $1000+ bikes to keep even one good mechanic/shop in business. I can tell you this...I'd never take my bike to REI to be worked on. Period. It sounds like the shops tried to compete in a low end bike market and couldn't beat REI. Their bad.
I wonder if they will sell Peenereloz ...nmmfuchs1
Feb 13, 2003 9:11 AM
or maybe Choaches even ...nmColnagoFE
Feb 13, 2003 9:25 AM
re: interesting business article on the new wave of bike shopsctisevn
Feb 13, 2003 9:28 AM
I dont think that will work. It defies everything that makes a good bike shop stay above water. Hes planning on stocking LOTS of product and putting it in an enormous building. and then hes going to have maintenance seminars and spinning classes. perhaps he could throw in a latte bar or a small bistro. good luck. one of the shops I used to work at has now expanded to 7 stores in 2 states and appears to be doing very well. theyve apparently done that by using smaller spaces (less rent) and having a wharehouse(less $/sq ft) to store product (which they buy in volume and at less cost per piece as theyve got a large market). It appears hes paying for alot of retail space.
I don't see him attracting customers from outlying areas either. No one drives an extra 30 minutes to go to yoga or pilates classes. If anything hes shot himself in the foot by closing locations and reducing his exposure. Id say I wish him luck, but based on his cavalier attitude towards small shops and the industry in general, I truly do not.
re: interesting business article on the new wave of bike shopsdotkaye
Feb 13, 2003 12:20 PM
agreed, I work 5 minutes from where this place is opening, and I'll probably visit out of curiousity once. The monster store is devoid of personality, will have different (minimum-wage) mechanics every time you visit, and won't be able to compete with the web stores on price. All of which leaves no reason to go there.. This is a high-rent area, so all that space has to be costing a pretty penny. Probably will be bust in less than a year.
What if he provides good service?Uprwstsdr
Feb 13, 2003 12:18 PM
I have been thinking along the same lines as this owner. Sparked by an article I read in a Skiing magazine about a shop at a western resort that was combination ski shop and coffee shop - have a cup of java while your skiis are being waxed - I thought about applying that concept to a bike shop.

I, like most people here, am a gearhead. I like gear, I like lusitng after new equiptment, I like being with people who share this perversion. I like coffee. I like sitting in coffee shops for a couple of hours sipping coffee, reading, and checking out people. If I like all this stuff, there are probably a few others among the millions of people in NYC who also like this stuff. There may be an opportunity here.

I also thought about the fact that we are in the midst of a cold winter, and there are many people spending boring hours at home, alone on trainers. What if a place that offered coffee and gear also offered the use of trainers and rollers. There could be organized classes and also open time.

Maybe combine this with a few other like minded sports, say running, rowing, skiing, climbing etc.

If you provide a good atmosphere and most importantly good service through knowedgable employees, it could be a good business.

The main gripe about the article is that these shops may not offer good service, but what if they do, then there doesn't seem to be any reason not to go there.
Ooooh, a roller class. Now I'd sign up for one of those!Kristin
Feb 13, 2003 12:25 PM
Better than trying to learn at home. I could learn in front of a room full strangers...oh wait...I see a flaw in this. :-)

Seriously, though, that is a great idea.
Ah yes, coffee and rollers, that's the ticket.djg
Feb 15, 2003 1:11 PM
Actually, at least one of the area shops--College Park Bikes--offers weekly roller races in the winter. I honestly don't know how many people show up. Personally, loading bike and rollers in the car and driving half an hour (each way) to a shop where I can ride the rollers isn't exactly spiking that moths-to-a-flame, lemmings-to-the-sea urge in this brain. I'm sort of curious, just not enough.
re: new wave bike shopsFredrico
Feb 13, 2003 12:50 PM
It's encouraging to the sport or life-style of cycling to read about those Denver emporiums.

The two shops I worked in survived mostly on kids' bikes, but the adult market has grown alot since then. 90% of this new market probably wants a shop that has the aftermarket products they need, and attitude and service that solves their problems--not something I, for one, have found in the big, help yourself, impersonal, multi-sport stores, with clueless sales people who frequently don't even know what they have, never mind what you want.

Kristen said it: everything changes, evolves. Alot of well-meaning petit-bourgeoisie open bike shops, nostalgic about riding when they were kids, wanting to sell a product that customers love and use for fun--bike as toy, hobby. They don't relate very well to the practical, more sophisticated adult market of commuters, fitness types and racers. These shops never make much money, and are the first to go out of business when somebody like REI or Performance Bikes comes to town.

If ma and pa carve out a niche for themselves: flawless repair services, wheel building, expert fit advice, custom bikes, training rides, spin classes, they can still survive--maybe.
Whoa!! Flashback!Sintesi
Feb 13, 2003 6:58 PM
That Argonaut Liquors pop-up took me way back into the eighties and early nineties. How many times me and my troop ended up on Colfax getting a case of micro-brews on a saturday night. Not quite Liquormart (the liquor supermarket) but close. Man the alcoholic confusion, the hangovers, the bad grades. . . .oooh it's all coming back.