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  1. #1
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    Can I make a living as a bike salesman?

    Need the opinion of the people in the industry here....

    I got bitten by the bike bug about 4 years ago, and have been heavily into mountain and road riding since. In that time, I've bought and sold more than a dozen bikes (around 18, I think), as I like to try out different designs (hardtail, softail, full suspension, steel, carbon, scanadium, etc.).

    Note that I'm a web applications developer, with no sales experience per se, but the fact that I've been buying and selling my own bikes makes me think I can do it.

    I'm self-employed and I'm doing a project that will last 6-12 months - during which time I'll have no income, so I will have to find at least a part time job.

    I see that my local Supergo is hiring (I know them some people here HATE Supergo), and I'm thinking of applying for a part time sales associate position.

    How much do bike sales people make? I'm assuming it's hourly plus comission? Because Supergo is a discount chain, soes that mean the salespeople there make less?

    Thanks for any input you may have on this subject!!!!!

    - Mark R.

  2. #2
    Zippy Engineer Waldo's Avatar
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    Salespeople are not necessarily on comission. The one shop where I was it was 2% so it's not a huge deal even if you are. Around here, typical salesmen make under $10/hour, often well under that amount. Can't help you on what Supergo pays.

  3. #3
    The Red Lantern Rev.Chuck's Avatar
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    If you want to make money selling bikes it needs to be a big shop that does lots of sales. Your hourly will be squat, and the commision will not be that great either. You also need to do it a while to build up sales skills and clientelle.

    My advice would be to have a real job and work in the bike shop partime for fun. The big value is the discount you get working in a shop. However as Supergo sells stuff below wholesale anyway, probably no bargain there. So, in conclusion, work for a fun local shop part time and do not ***** your self out to supergo as you will not get any extra benefits and spend all day dealing with people whose sole priority is "how cheap can I get this"
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  4. #4
    Dancing on the Pedals Corsaire's Avatar
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    This is what I've heard from a people in the bike industry, so interpret and infer at will:
    "Owning a bike shop is like bleeding to death from a papercut"

    Corsaire
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  5. #5
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    I think owning a bike shop must be easy money, just look at the mark-up. I bought a 2004 Kona Coiler this year for 899 down from 1499, some places are selling them now for 1099 and one place I know for 849.99. The mark-up on this years models must be 40%+ so it doesn't take many sales to earn a comfortable living.

    Most shops I know actually earn enough to sponsor a series of local races and rides. Look at the adverts in the magazines, many places organize outings or races and put up all the costs in terms of prize money or transport. On top of sales you have the repair side of the business which is usually parts plus 10-20/hr labour charges. You pay full retail on those parts as well.

    In the UK at least there is very little price differential on new 2005 models although there may be 50 or 60 shops advertising in the glossy magazines, they all stick to full retail. I only know of 1 website that sells new models below retail and they won't tell you the prices of some manufacturers like Marin, you have to phone them and they'll tell you what they can probably get them for. Manufacturers like Marin and Orange heavily control their sales outlets and refuse to supply to places that will discount this years models.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChilliConCarnag
    Note that I'm a web applications developer, with no sales experience per se, but the fact that I've been buying and selling my own bikes makes me think I can do it.
    I used to be a programmer. I've bought and sold 7 bikes in the past 2 years. What kind of buying and selling you've been doing? It seems to me that buying and selling USED bikes, from/to end users, is much, much different from selling retail. For the former, you control prices on both ends...you can choose not to buy and choose not to sell, there is little time pressure. For retail, you have profit margins to deal with, suppliers to pay, quotas, deadlines, inventory that devalues very quickly, etc. You can't just pass on a deal like you can when buying/selling your own bikes...you have to sell lots, and fast.

    I also do all my own bike maintenance and built my last bike from scratch. But I don't think that would make me an employable mechanic. If I could ride fast, I probably wouldn't be a good pro racer. There's a line between a labour of love and a job. Stress can ruin a hobby really fast. I used to like tinkering with computers, programming was interesting. Eventually it became a chore. Do you do web apps in your spare time, for fun?

  7. #7
    Name's Ash ...housewares Doctor Morbius's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by koan
    ... There's a line between a labour of love and a job. Stress can ruin a hobby really fast. I used to like tinkering with computers, programming was interesting. Eventually it became a chore. Do you do web apps in your spare time, for fun?
    Ain't that the truth. I hate computers now. Used to love everything about them until I spent a decade in corporate America doing support. Now they're just a tool.


    There's an old saying that goes "turn your hobby into your work, then find another hobby". So very true.
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  8. #8
    don d.
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    if you want to make a living selling bicycles, you don't do it by selling bikes in a bike shop, you do it by selling bikes to a bike shop.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Crashtest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Morbius
    Ain't that the truth. I hate computers now. Used to love everything about them until I spent a decade in corporate America doing support. Now they're just a tool.


    There's an old saying that goes "turn your hobby into your work, then find another hobby". So very true.
    That's kind of interesting. I've been doing IT work for about 7 years now, and I'm just about burned out. I wonder what else there is to do?
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  10. #10
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    I worked in a big sports store, paid 4.5 % commision on top of an 8$ salary. I was easily the best salesman because I could take the bikes and explain anything on them. I was making good coin for the time, I think around 2000-3000$ take home a month. But then I was a bachelor and just relaxing after moving out west. I sure wasn't looking for a career...

    I couldn't survive on that now with a gf, 3 bikes and higher rent.

  11. #11
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Doctor, and crashtest,

    I completely agree...I worked with computers since I was 14 (started my own company) I quit when I was 18 or so because I hated them. Multiple reasons but the number one was the assumtion of friends that I could 'hook them up' all the time. Anyways I quit for 5 or 6 years and came back. However now, I don't like computers and find my job that much better. I do my work, but the IT aspect stays at work. At home I am a wrench

  12. #12
    www.getafolder.com wpflem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Naiss
    I think owning a bike shop must be easy money, just look at the mark-up. I bought a 2004 Kona Coiler this year for 899 down from 1499, some places are selling them now for 1099 and one place I know for 849.99. The mark-up on this years models must be 40%+ so it doesn't take many sales to earn a comfortable living.

    Most shops I know actually earn enough to sponsor a series of local races and rides. Look at the adverts in the magazines, many places organize outings or races and put up all the costs in terms of prize money or transport. On top of sales you have the repair side of the business which is usually parts plus 10-20/hr labour charges. You pay full retail on those parts as well.

    In the UK at least there is very little price differential on new 2005 models although there may be 50 or 60 shops advertising in the glossy magazines, they all stick to full retail. I only know of 1 website that sells new models below retail and they won't tell you the prices of some manufacturers like Marin, you have to phone them and they'll tell you what they can probably get them for. Manufacturers like Marin and Orange heavily control their sales outlets and refuse to supply to places that will discount this years models.
    The failure rate of local bike stores in the USA is very high so it is not a matter of easy money. Anyone herein care to speculate on the reason. Certainly the big box discount dealers like Walmart & Target have played a major role in driving LBS's out of business.

  13. #13
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Naiss
    I think owning a bike shop must be easy money, just look at the mark-up. I bought a 2004 Kona Coiler this year for 899 down from 1499, some places are selling them now for 1099 and one place I know for 849.99. The mark-up on this years models must be 40%+ so it doesn't take many sales to earn a comfortable living.

    Most shops I know actually earn enough to sponsor a series of local races and rides. Look at the adverts in the magazines, many places organize outings or races and put up all the costs in terms of prize money or transport. On top of sales you have the repair side of the business which is usually parts plus 10-20/hr labour charges. You pay full retail on those parts as well.

    In the UK at least there is very little price differential on new 2005 models although there may be 50 or 60 shops advertising in the glossy magazines, they all stick to full retail. I only know of 1 website that sells new models below retail and they won't tell you the prices of some manufacturers like Marin, you have to phone them and they'll tell you what they can probably get them for. Manufacturers like Marin and Orange heavily control their sales outlets and refuse to supply to places that will discount this years models.
    I can't speak about the UK shops, but nothing close to that is the situation in the USA.

    The gross profit and the net profit are not close to each other either. A lot of people miss this one.

    If bike shop sells a bike for $100 more than they paid for it, this is not the profit.

  14. #14
    Ride it, don't fondle it! Wheel Doctor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChilliConCarnag
    Need the opinion of the people in the industry here....

    I got bitten by the bike bug about 4 years ago, and have been heavily into mountain and road riding since. In that time, I've bought and sold more than a dozen bikes (around 18, I think), as I like to try out different designs (hardtail, softail, full suspension, steel, carbon, scanadium, etc.).

    Note that I'm a web applications developer, with no sales experience per se, but the fact that I've been buying and selling my own bikes makes me think I can do it.

    I'm self-employed and I'm doing a project that will last 6-12 months - during which time I'll have no income, so I will have to find at least a part time job.

    I see that my local Supergo is hiring (I know them some people here HATE Supergo), and I'm thinking of applying for a part time sales associate position.

    How much do bike sales people make? I'm assuming it's hourly plus comission? Because Supergo is a discount chain, soes that mean the salespeople there make less?

    Thanks for any input you may have on this subject!!!!!

    - Mark R.
    I own a shop. I still love bicycles and bike people, well most of em' anyway. I can't afford to pay squat. I have one PT employee. A good kid. I have a following of regular customers. I have other income and I can live cheaply. I have seen the hobby turned business ruin the hobby for some. It's different when you dabble than when you must eat, pay a mortgage, kids etc.
    If you gotta do it find a larger shop with long term employees. However, these shops don't hire cause they have long term employees. So like the Rev. said, work PT somewhere. When you do somthing cause you like to do it it's fun. However, for many it becomes a chore and it's not fun anymore, just another job.

  15. #15
    www.getafolder.com wpflem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wheel Doctor
    I own a shop. I still love bicycles and bike people, well most of em' anyway. I can't afford to pay squat. I have one PT employee. A good kid. I have a following of regular customers. I have other income and I can live cheaply. I have seen the hobby turned business ruin the hobby for some. It's different when you dabble than when you must eat, pay a mortgage, kids etc.
    If you gotta do it find a larger shop with long term employees. However, these shops don't hire cause they have long term employees. So like the Rev. said, work PT somewhere. When you do somthing cause you like to do it it's fun. However, for many it becomes a chore and it's not fun anymore, just another job.
    Good points. I might just add that in my case I couldn't be or remain a bike shop owner if I didn't have outside money to my pay own bills.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Naiss
    I think owning a bike shop must be easy money, just look at the mark-up. I bought a 2004 Kona Coiler this year for 899 down from 1499, some places are selling them now for 1099 and one place I know for 849.99. The mark-up on this years models must be 40%+ so it doesn't take many sales to earn a comfortable living.
    If only it was that easy, we'd all be doing it. That Coiler has been sitting in the showroom for months, money tied up in stock not moving. So the shop sells it for little profit to get some better selling stock in. A big mark-up isn't much if you're not turning over your stock on a regular basis. You've also provided a good example of how volatile prices for bikes can be. Shop owners may not make a ton of money on little items like tubes, tires, tools, and helmets, but at least they don't lose value each day they go unsold. I buy closeouts from the US at pennies on the dollar, and sell them here for very fair prices. Shops are happy to sell me boxes of Fox gloves at a buck a pair, because they're 2004 or even 2003 models. No one wants last year's gear when 2005 offers something newer and better.

    Back on topic. Can anyone make a living as a bike salesman? Maybe if you're a company sales rep, but you'll never do more than getting by as a salesperson in a store like Supergo. Do it because you love cycling, not for the money.

  17. #17
    Lifelong wheel gazer ... BookFinder's Avatar
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    Ain't that the truth. I hate computers now. Used to love everything about them until I spent a decade in corporate America doing support. Now they're just a tool.
    Hey, if you feel that way about your work -- look at the bright side.

    At least you are not a Gynecologist ...
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  18. #18
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    MY question is .What do you think it is that would make you a good bike salesmen...?
    Maybe a salesman/pt bike mechanic would be winning combination...? If You love bikes - should add to job satisfaction....
    I do think the world's pending oil problems...The bike business will be looking up...get ready for greater sales volume real soon.

  19. #19
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    Thanks for all of the replies to my question. It was helpful in making a decision!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezealot
    I do think the world's pending oil problems...The bike business will be looking up...get ready for greater sales volume real soon.
    I doubt it.

    Remember the 70's oil crisis? Toyota and Nissan, etc. came in and made big $ with small, economical cars...the late 90's and new millenium brought SUV's (in the interest of disclosure- I own one) at 15mpg.

    PJ

  21. #21
    Senior Member CATZ's Avatar
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    Hi Guys,

    As far as " new bike salesman", ... ???

    I've recently gotten interested in building a recumbent or two from used bikes. I put a free ad in the local paper for "used bikes wanted, free or very reasonable". In a week and half, I've acquired 9 bikes for $16.

    Here's the problem, these bikes are "pretty good bikes"! ... I hate to cannibalize them! Some are dept. store bikes, some are better. .. aluminum, lugged, etc.. All of them need a little TLC and fixin'.

    Whether they could be put into shape and sold for a profit, remains to be seen. (that wasn't my goal) I think there are a ton of used bikes available for "no big investment".

    ??????

    Tom

  22. #22
    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    catz-

    maybe you need to put in your ad that you can only accept bikes that are in extremely poor condition.

    it's possible to do a whole lot with several "junk" bikes. One bike might have rims that are shot, one might have no seat, and another might be missing brakes and/or cables. between the three of them, you have two good bikes and probably an third frame that's in near-perfect condition.
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