2) A bike that is a mix match of previous owner upgrades I part almost all of those out. A few of those I parted out the nice parts and then rebuilt using parts bin parts for an easy $100-150 bike and a quick sell. But, if you live in a northern climate HOLD EM' until spring then that first stretch of nicer weather in Feb./March/April put them up on CL. Normally, I sell the normal flippers throughout the warmer months than when winter hits I start listed the nicer high end vintage parts I have been stashing throughout the year on CL, Ebay, and the vintage emails lists (CR and Bob lists).
3) The turn around time is something I tend to have a problem with. I can get them to be perfectly functioning and looking their best, but that takes time. For me working in a bike shop for 8+ hours a day during the busy summer months I don't want to go home and work on more bikes for a couple more hours before bedtime. I would rather get to ride some personally. I am trying to use this time in the winter to finish up all of my long outstanding projects to be ready when spring hits here in the mitten state.
So... how do you sell? Craigslist? Ebay? Bulletin boards?
search forums, read up a lot, then start buying and selling. No substitute for experience. Ask few questions and think about each question for a few days before you ask it.
Know how to market your bike. It's all about adding value to your bike, whether it's actual or perceived. Flipping the stem, setting the bars straight, new bar tape and a good cleaning can add much more value than new tires. Many people don't realize the costs of tires, so why would they care if it's got new ones?
When you list your bike, make sure you sound knowledgeable about the bike without being too technical. People are less likely to talk you down if you know your stuff. Also, know your target market. Who are you selling to? What are they going to care about? Do they care that your bike is all period correct? No. Realize that the majority of buyers know little to nothing about bicycles.
Take nice pictures. Make sure they are well lit, and of good quality. Don't upload them through craigslist or ebay, instead use a dedicated host site such as photobucket, and embed the photos that way.
Now, one huge money saving secret I've got is that I have full use of the dealership's shop, including the bead blasting tank, large wire brushing wheels, parts cleaner, etc. Which means that virtually everything that bike comes with gets reused. I haven't bought a chain in ages for a flipper - twenty minutes on the bead blaster takes care of any rust (and it's my lunch break, or even during work hours if things are quiet).
Most of the items I do ship tend to be higher end vintage parts that besides on Ebay can be tough to find. When pricing those items I look on Ebay and see what range they sell for. I usually go right in the middle of the range and hope for the best. I can always lower the price in the end if I want to. If it doesn't sell within so much or I really need money I list a bunch of stuff on Ebay.
Take good photos.
Take close-up photos of the "selling points" of the bikes eg: lugs, embossed details.
Women's vintage mixte bikes will sell for $100 or so; throw a $15 basket and a $3 bell and you can get $200.
Put a $3 bell on any bike you sell and mention it in the ad, even better. mention it in the heading.
Mention the size of the rider, not the bike, very few people will know the size they need.
A good example of a CL heading: "Vintage ladies bike, suits a rider 5'3-5'9, pink, bell, fenders, basket"
If the bike is clean and shiny, has new tape and an intact saddle, you can overcome a lot of the faults. It is amazing to me that people sell dirty bikes with flat tires, torn saddles and bar tape. A $20 investment and some elbow grease could add $50 to the price of almost any bike on CL.
I used to sell by eBay, then one on CL. Now it's totally word of mouth, and words out of my mouth. I look for opportunity, often at running events. My Christmas bike giveaway gets some folks interested.
Best sales tool: a prior customer who still can't stop grinning.
I guarantee my work for a month, not the vintage parts, and I have a buy back price if they go modern.
Dad taught me how to fix my own bike at 8 and said never to call and asked to be "picked up" if said bike broke down.
Grew up in Santa Clara Valley and road my bike everywhere. My bike was my best friend and fixing bikes made me allot of new best friends.
Went to college and bought Campy parts out of the back of a VW van from a cool guy. Named Mike. Mike Sinyard.
Got hit by a car the summer before I was to start Law School, Could not ride for 2 years.
Took job contracted to Uncle Sam managing Missile Motors and Warhead Cans.
Bought new 1983 Colnago Mexico using my Bike Accident lawsuit money. My Rosebud
RODE. Built Bombs. RODE.
Saw HS Classmate Jim Gentes wearing BULLET SHAPED HELMET @ Hike & Bike. "Yeah Jim, that'll sell."
Saw LeMond in said helmet a year later win on the last day of the tour by 8 seconds.
Iraq War 1.
Start thinking Bombs are bad.
Moved to Hawaii to work with Handicapped and At-Risk-Youth. Rode less.
Moved back to CA.
Semiconductor's better than bombs.
Got married. Needed hobby. Took over basement.
Red Cross Working Katrina.
Respond to Craigslist Ad about "288 Old but New Bikes".
Tell 96 year old Dad about bikes. He Said, "Son, I would buy those bikes"
Dad dies two weeks later.
Bought the Bikes.
Epic 3 day Journey with 288 bikes includes, Death, Destruction, Tornados and we hadnt left Illinois!
Hobby is over.
Use half of wife's Art Studio and open small Bike Shop in North Beach.
Use Dads famous line "It's a $100 if I do it and $200 if you watch." Collect $200
Find. People like bikes. Shop is too small. Sound travels through walls.
Email from B. Bayliss. "You have my Rosebud"
Find. $ is not as important as finding the right bike for the right rider and sharing the experience.
Find. Wife wants Peace, Quiet and Studio back or its just me and my bikes.
Find. I need a young partner and more old steel bikes.
Promise wife her studio back for New Years.
Move across the street taking a little longer than thought.
Wife begins art piece consisting of Vintage Steel KNIVES.
Create 'Declaration of Principles'
Heading out on a short ride to the Golden Gate on my Pashley Guv'Nor
Working all day on shop.
Small group of friends form "The Chain Gang"
Hope to still be married next week.
Love working one bikes.
Lot better than building bombs.
DA. San Francisco, CA
Yard Saleing 101:
Buying bikes at a yard sale is still a great, viable way to find bargains. Hey, if they're selling it at a yard sale, they probably have no clue what it's worth.
Search on Craigslist and newspapers for yard sales in your area. "Community" yard sales offer many houses to search in a short amount of time.
Arrive early, For a 7:00AM yard sales, you should be at your first sale not later than 6:45. By 8:15, all the good bikes are gone, time to go home.
If you're a flipper, buy brand name mountain bikes if they are cheap. They can be flipped too.
Consider $5 department store bikes. They can be a source of tires, shifters and cable housing.
When at a yard sale where you don't see bikes, ASK! I've found at least 10 bikes and more parts by simply asking "Are you selling any bikes or bike parts". Its amazing what comes out of the basement, under the house or storage shed. Two of my best buys, a Trek 560 and a Cannondale SR500 I obtained cheap because they "forgot to put the bikes out for the sale".
Always ask "Can you do better on the price?" Ninety percent of the time, they do!
If you see competition evaluating the bike, pull out the money and shove it in the sellers hand and walk with the bike. One of the local guys doesn't bother to get out of his car when he sees me holding a bike.
I find that I sort of triage the bikes I buy. Some of the better ones (say Schwinn World Sport or above) will get the full rebuild treatment of cleaning, new parts and adjustments. Cheapo bikes, like department store road/mountain or low end 3 speeds, will get good tires, brake pads a quick squirt of fresh grease into the bearings and an adjustment. If the cables are in poor shape I will replace them, but I leave the outer housing if it is in reasonable shape.
A fully 'dressed' bike will sell for $150-250 and those are worth putting some time in. The cheapo bikes sell for under $100 (sometimes well under) but they are normally going to college students looking for a crappy bike for campus that is going to get left outside anyway. I figure with the minimal work I do on the cheapies, they are still in far better shape than a new $60 bike from Walmart.
CitizenChain's post belongs in my "What Do You Do For A Living?" thread. Love it! My wife is making some of the same noises about the old bikes I stored in the garage.
Another point. You need to consider the balance between supply and demand. If you can quickly sell anything you can get your hands on, and it is easy for you to get your hands on things (you are resourceful), you can keep your prices lower than the other sellers. If your prices are noticeably lower than everybody else's, and your stuff is just as good, your stuff will move while their stuff sits. You have to keep your product costs down to maintain your profit margin, but can do well with volume. You will also do well to keep product quality up, since you may wind up bumping into your customers again. Referrals are always better than rebukes. For maximum profit, you should try to "cherry pick" your merchandise. For maximum fun and satisfaction, that curbside treasure may be just what the doctor ordered. Overall, need to keep business and hobby side in balance.
Flipping pays for my upkeep on my riders. Anything with straight wheels and that shifts and brakes well gets sold pretty easy around here. Then there's the collectable bikes that always seem to clog up my storage and eat up my flip money.
Flipping was what originally got me to this site. I picked up a beautiful Paramount and was wondering exactly what I had. I really don't flip (to me that just means you are buying something, fixing it up and reselling it). I tend to buy bikes with decent bones and good parts then I break them down and sell as parts. I bet close to 100% of the time I make more with parts than a whole bike. Yea, it's a pain to deal in a bunch of items but its a change from my regular job. Occasionally I'll run into something I keep. And sometimes I run into stuff, mostly older, that's worth more than I thought. And occasionally I buy high and sell low. It's all part of the learning curve and bottom line reason why I do it--to stroke my bike addiction. Oh, I'll probably keep the Paramount if it doesn't sell on ebay--riding it, I've grown attached.
I just found this: Bicycle Shipping box at U-Line shipping supplies. Must buy in quantities of 5, at $8.87 per box. U-Line has several locations around the U.S.
Shipping bikes seems to come up frequently, and for those who use ebay and have to ship, this is one option.
Do I owe Jet Sanchez a cut of the proceeds?;)
Do I owe Jet Sanchez a cut of the proceeds?;)[/QUOTE]
Giving him recognition on BF for being a top-shelf marketing genius is a reward in itself. However, who would turn down a one or two year subscription to their favorite cycling magazine?;)
Heheh, I am just happy to help----as long as you are not my competition! :D
Wondering what the best places are to buy quality cables, housing and bearings? I know where to find cheap tires, tubes, brake shoes and bar wrap. I have used the cheap Walmart cable sets a few times and want something better than that to use, even on the bikes that are flippers.
Ordering housing in bulk as mentioned by wrk101 is your best option. Depending on how many bikes you flip you'll go through a 50 foot roll very quickly.
My LBS has 'Pyramid' branded lined cables for $4.99 which isnt bad if you need it right now.
I get most of my small parts from loosescrews.