Advertise on Bikeforums.net



User Tag List

Results 1 to 16 of 16
  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    31
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    The Woes of a Dept. Store Bike Mechanic!

    Hello all, thought I'd share some chat with you all.

    Some of you may have been in a similar situation as mine. Years back I was employed by Huffy Corporation. Incidently, Huffy sells more basketball bankboards than bikes and they produce professional grade NBA boards of acryllic and glass materials.

    Anyways, working in chain department stores is the usual work setting. It may be Sears or K Mart one day, Wal Mart or Monkey Wards on another. I would assemble everything from bikes to grills, to exercise equip, to even Christmas trees and decorate them!! Pay was commensurate with the amount of pieces I output each day. This has a direct effect on quality of assembly. At first I spent so much time trying to get these cheezy bikes to spin smoothly, brake evenly, shift reliably, etc. that I earned just enough money to cover a lunch & dinner! In the end they fall out of adjustment so quickly that it's a lost cause for even trying from the start. It didn't take long to learn to perform the shortcuts and trim assembly methods to be able to bring home a paycheck of some value. My conscience got to me after awhile and I quit Huffy. I just couldn't be a further part of pumping out that awfull crud that I felt was a waste of material resources in manufacturing to begin with. To add to the mysery was assembling bikes and such stuff in the middle of an aisle, being in the way of customers, instead of in some idle stockroom location ("Uh maam, I do not work for the store so I'm not sure what aisle has toe nail clippers"). I always had to watch my tools and pack everything up during lunch. Between dragging in a heavy Park stand, a 10 gallon air tank, cordless drill, a loaded tool hip pouch, and a satchel for paperwork... whew! Most of the time I grabbed a shopping cart to haul it all and probably looked like some homeless junk collector pushing it through the lot!!. And that's my experience!!
    EDucator
    "The only thing worse than learning from experience is NOT learning from experience."

  2. #2
    Love Me....Love My Bike! aerobat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    Winnipeg
    My Bikes
    Bikes: Giant hybrid, Trek 4500, Cannondale R800 Some commuting 20mi/day, mostly fitness riding - 20-50 mile rides
    Posts
    1,231
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Interesting post ED, nice to see the other side of things.
    "...perhaps the world needs a little more Canada" - Jean Chretian, 2003.

  3. #3
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    Between Crystal River and Hernando, Florida, 6 miles west of the Withlacoochee Trail
    My Bikes
    I've had several since 1999 but have settled on my beloved 2001 Litespeed Tuscany and my latest, a 2013 Cannondale CAAD 10.
    Posts
    13,713
    Mentioned
    3 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Very informative post.
    And to think I considered doing what you did at one time.
    My bikes: 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---
    2013 Cannondale CAAD 10 2 "Racing Edition"--The bike shop owner said it's toast after the car-bike accident. R.I.P.
    * * 2014 or 2015 CAAD 10 3 coming soon. Decision time. * *

    Life is like a 10-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use. ~ Charles Schultz

  4. #4
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    www.ci.encinitas.ca.us
    My Bikes
    1959 Capo; 1980 Peugeot PKN-10; 1981 Bianchi; 1988 Schwinn KOM-10;
    Posts
    14,945
    Mentioned
    7 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    ED's post explains alot, does it not?
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
    Capo [dschaw'-poe]: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger, S/N 42624
    Peugeot: 1970 UO-8, S/N 0010468
    Bianchi: 1981 Campione d'Italia, S/N 1.M9914
    Schwinn: 1988 Project KOM-10, S/N F804069

  5. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    31
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I failed to mention above that I did a short stint as a mechanic in a custom bike shop before working for Huffy. This was a small shop where the owner was trying to bring the European custom bike shop experience to the U.S. customers. That was enjoyable.
    EDucator
    "The only thing worse than learning from experience is NOT learning from experience."

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Posts
    4,866
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Geez, talk about a demotion!

    Welcome to the forum.

  7. #7
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    31
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    LOL Louis!! Actually I was toying with a career change. I had just been laid off from a wonderful job after 11 yrs. and just wanted to do something different for a spell to see what would ultimately appeal to me. So I took the Huffy position but didn't fully realize that the bike mechanic part of it was a small portion of the job's requirements. As a result of that job, I rarely ever put up a Christmas tree! I'd be just as happy to cut out a picture of one and tape it to a wall!! LOL
    EDucator
    "The only thing worse than learning from experience is NOT learning from experience."

  8. #8
    Banned
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    upstate New York
    Posts
    1,688
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Once, several years ago, when I was desperate for $$, I worked a 2-day temporary job assembling bikes inside one of those chain sporting goods stores. The job paid 25 cents above minimum wage, they didn't ask about experience, ant the tool kit I had to work with consisted of 3 wrenches and a pair of pliers-no grease, no socket wrenches, nothing.
    Je vais à vélo, donc je suis!

  9. #9
    Lagomorph Demonicus stumpjumper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Dayton, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    791
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I spent as much time at the shop "fixing" brand new Huffies as I did working on the regular customers bikes. Once you factor in the extra 50 - 90 bucks for a "tune-up" (read- overhaul), the discount over a real bike pretty much dries up.
    Lord Bowler: Uh oh. You hit the sheriff
    Brisco County Jr.: Yeah, but I did not hit the deputy.

  10. #10
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    www.ci.encinitas.ca.us
    My Bikes
    1959 Capo; 1980 Peugeot PKN-10; 1981 Bianchi; 1988 Schwinn KOM-10;
    Posts
    14,945
    Mentioned
    7 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Working at Bikecology for "Mr. Supergo," in a real shop with real tools and real bikes, was a much more satisfying experience ...
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
    Capo [dschaw'-poe]: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger, S/N 42624
    Peugeot: 1970 UO-8, S/N 0010468
    Bianchi: 1981 Campione d'Italia, S/N 1.M9914
    Schwinn: 1988 Project KOM-10, S/N F804069

  11. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Posts
    197
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    When I was working at Kmart (Australia), they had imported bikes direct from China, selling for US$50.

    The bikes were sold in boxes.

    When they were returned for warranty (the pedals cracked apart, as they had no bearings), they used a couple of 16 year old shop assistants (pay : US$3 an hour) to fix them up !

  12. #12
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    31
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Hey John E,

    You worked for Bikecology? Cool. I have a Supergo wind trainer from way back. It's still going strong. That was one well made setup. The Minoura designers can only look on with envy!! For awhile it was doubling as a carrier in the truck bed. I used it to warm up before some races that prevent riders from entering the roads beforehand. Now, I have an aluminum Trek permanently clamped to it for sweating on and I don't even bother to lube anything on it!!!! (It's my little personal message to the local Trekkies near me!! lol) I don't really hold anything against Trek. It's just that we have a dealer here that makes a BIG deal over them and brainwashes customers into thinking they are the absolute answer and end to all bikes! Puuhleeze!
    EDucator
    "The only thing worse than learning from experience is NOT learning from experience."

  13. #13
    GT enthusiast midwestmntnbkr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Drexel,MO
    My Bikes
    2003 GT i- drive 1.0, 1998? GT ricochet,1999 Schwinn Homegrown Factory, 19?? Marin Eldridge Grade full rigid SS MTB, 1998 GT Karakoram my "town/cruiser" bike, 1999 Klein Quantum Race, 1977 Raleigh Super Course fixie
    Posts
    276
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I worked part-time for a "Toys R Us" store for a couple of Christmas seasons assembling bikes much like you described, Educator. It was my first experience at something like that.( I am an auto mechanic) I did not ride at the time and had not been around bikes at all for many years before that. It was just an extra income for me during a hard time. Mostly the store wanted someone that would show up on time and every day. That was about it for requirements. I will say I turned out fairly good bikes (as good as they could be) being a mechanic for a living I have pride in what I work on, and "comebacks" are costly, in that profession. I had fun doing it and don't regret that I took that job. I met some fun people there and had a good time while it lasted. I believe most of those types of bikes are still mass assembled and not very well put together. I guess if your a child "any" bike is a good bike!
    "if you're not living on the edge...
    you're taking up too much space"


    "Life is too short to drink cheap beer"

  14. #14
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    31
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Hey midwest mtnbkr

    Did that Toys r Us have a dedicated bike shop? The one in my town has one and it's equipped quite well. Pretty much all Park stands/tools and lots of extra parts on pegboards. They employ 2 mechanics. I remember inquiring into long ago as the pressure was less working for them over Huffy that satisfies a majority of chain dept. stores. So you would know what it's like to have to assemble 75-100 bikes in time for a sales flyer so they can meet consumer demand huh? Especially those summertime sales flyers!!!
    EDucator
    "The only thing worse than learning from experience is NOT learning from experience."

  15. #15
    GT enthusiast midwestmntnbkr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Drexel,MO
    My Bikes
    2003 GT i- drive 1.0, 1998? GT ricochet,1999 Schwinn Homegrown Factory, 19?? Marin Eldridge Grade full rigid SS MTB, 1998 GT Karakoram my "town/cruiser" bike, 1999 Klein Quantum Race, 1977 Raleigh Super Course fixie
    Posts
    276
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Originally posted by EDucator
    Hey midwest mtnbkr

    Did that Toys r Us have a dedicated bike shop? The one in my town has one and it's equipped quite well. Pretty much all Park stands/tools and lots of extra parts on pegboards.

    So you would know what it's like to have to assemble 75-100 bikes in time for a sales flyer so they can meet consumer demand huh? Especially those summertime sales flyers!!!
    Yes they had a "bike shop" Park stands and 2 mechanics. The tools were decent at best, mostly Tiawan tools and off brands. They did have a few park speciality tools though. I prefered to take my own tools and use them. Its much faster if you have decent tools to work with.

    I know EXACTLY what you mean about the "Sales Flyers" that part was a killer. I would come in for a shift and they would have bikes stacked on a pallet 6' tall to be assembled and their would be about 5 or 6 pallets. IF you were lucky or fast enough to get those done they would give you a list of what to build next.
    I also built things such as..baby beds, power wheels, cribs, strollers, high chairs...you name it, I built it!! LOL
    "if you're not living on the edge...
    you're taking up too much space"


    "Life is too short to drink cheap beer"

  16. #16
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    31
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Oh brother, could we have a fun conversation while riding together. I bet we could pass the time quickly doing a century!!
    EDucator
    "The only thing worse than learning from experience is NOT learning from experience."

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •