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Old 07-05-08, 09:05 PM   #1
elf 232
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Getting a job at a bike shop?

I apologize for posting a bike related thread in foo.


A new LBS just opened in my area and basically my summer dream job is working at a bike shop. They have amazing service and are a very friendly bike shop. The only thing im currently not sure about is that everyone who currently works there is 50+ excluding one girl in her late 20s/early 30s.

So should I not interrupt this or do you think they will be ok with a 16 y.o. working there?

I really do know bikes very well and hope i might be able to be a benefit to the shop but is there anyone in here who has worked at a shop that wants to talk?

Last edited by elf 232; 07-05-08 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 07-05-08, 09:07 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by elf 232 View Post
I apologize for posting a bike related thread in foo.


A new LBS just opened in my area and basically my summer dream job is working at a bike shop. They have amazing service and are a very friendly bike shop. The only thing im currently not sure about is that everyone who currently works there is 50+ excluding one girl in her late 20s/early 30s.

So should I not interrupt this or do you think they will be ok with a 16 y.o. working there?

I really do know bikes very well and know i could benefit the shop
but is there anyone in here who has worked at a shop that wants to talk?
*ahem*
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Old 07-05-08, 09:14 PM   #3
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Sorry, fixed, just didnt want to be accused of being some lazy teen who wants to sit around and collect wages, i want to work as hard as i can for whatever job i do.
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Old 07-05-08, 09:17 PM   #4
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The only thing im currently not sure about is that everyone who currently works there is 50+ excluding one girl in her late 20s/early 30s.
The shop I work at has mostly 20-30 year olds, except for the owner who is 50+, one p/t female who is mid 40s, and me -- 63. We all get along just fine.

Go for it.
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Old 07-05-08, 09:27 PM   #5
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Thinking that you know a lot about bikes at 16 is your first mistake.

No, I'm not saying that you know nothing, just that if you are to work with such an experienced crew, you're a lot more likely to learn than to teach...but only if you don't "already know it all".

BTW: Reading about stuff on the internet does not count as experience until you've actually applied that information.
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Old 07-05-08, 09:37 PM   #6
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Thinking that you know a lot about bikes at 16 is your first mistake.

No, I'm not saying that you know nothing, just that if you are to work with such an experienced crew, you're a lot more likely to learn than to teach...but only if you don't "already know it all".

BTW: Reading about stuff on the internet does not count as experience until you've actually applied that information.
I agree.

Elf, many shops can take on an extra guy to haul around the boxes and do some basic mechanical work. But this "know a lot about bikes" stuff has to stop. Retain dignity, not pride.
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Old 07-05-08, 09:46 PM   #7
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go for it. if you are young (you are) and have never worked in a shop before(probably), you'l porbably just sweep up, move boxes around, change flats, maybe assemble a few bikes, run errands for your coworkers (coffee, etc.). its hella fun.
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Old 07-05-08, 09:54 PM   #8
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If you can be patient enough and are willing to learn, go for it. What's the worst that can happen? Get turned down?
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Old 07-05-08, 09:59 PM   #9
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I managed a large shop when I was in my mid 20s. We always hired one or two high school kids from the neighborhood to help out part time, mostly cleaning, stocking and merchandising. It is likely that you won't be in a sales position working with customers but it is possible that you can help the mechanic with repairs in the shop. One of the kids that I hired turned into a damn good mechanic.
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Old 07-05-08, 10:27 PM   #10
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You'd have a wonderful opportunity to learn if they hire you. I agree with the advice to be humble - be willing to accept minimum wage and potentially crappy hours, complete "menial" tasks with grace, treat customers like gold, and other employees with respect. Have good personal references. (I realize you probably don't have much in the way of employment references.) Any non-relatives who can confirm that you're not entirely clueless around a bike?

BTW, these tips do not come from any bike shop experience, but rather my experience with hiring teenage children of agency employees for summer office work.

(P.S. I created a link to this thread from the Industry Subforum in case other shop owners and employees are willing to share advice.)
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Old 07-05-08, 10:54 PM   #11
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I agree with a lot of what is being said here.

Elf, I think if you are really eager and willing to learn, you'd really benefit from this. Remember that no matter how much you know, there is always a bit more that you can gain. Every little tidbit, every new task that is given you, you are getting stronger and more knowledgeable. Absorb it all like a dry sponge. Take full advantage of what the mechs can show you, teach you and share with you. Always ask questions, and do research on the side.

You will be very successful and your dream will come true. Good luck Elf, we are rooting for you.
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Old 07-05-08, 11:24 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Wordbiker View Post
Thinking that you know a lot about bikes at 16 is your first mistake.

No, I'm not saying that you know nothing, just that if you are to work with such an experienced crew, you're a lot more likely to learn than to teach...but only if you don't "already know it all".

BTW: Reading about stuff on the internet does not count as experience until you've actually applied that information.
I agree with WB 100% here... I'd look at this as a learning opportunity as you are gonna be amazed at all the stuff you didn't know.

I have a volunteer at our co-op who is just a little older than you and she has some good basic skills, is a total gear head and a really hard worker.

She also thought she knew a lot about bikes until she started spending time in the shop.
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Old 07-06-08, 12:11 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Wordbiker View Post
Thinking that you know a lot about bikes at 16 is your first mistake.

No, I'm not saying that you know nothing, just that if you are to work with such an experienced crew, you're a lot more likely to learn than to teach...but only if you don't "already know it all".

BTW: Reading about stuff on the internet does not count as experience until you've actually applied that information.
Absolutely, my point was simply, the standard tune-ups that they would be giving bikes as an everyday event, I have already performed on other bikes. Every time I crack open my bike magazine I learn something new. There is nothing more I love about wrenching that even a simple mechanical machine like a bicycle is so complex that people who have worked on them for 10+ years are still learning new things. That is part of the reason I want a job at a bike shop rather than some supermarket, stocking shelves, where i will not learn skills particularly helpful in my everday use (at least not as many).
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Old 07-06-08, 12:13 PM   #14
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I agree.

Elf, many shops can take on an extra guy to haul around the boxes and do some basic mechanical work. But this "know a lot about bikes" stuff has to stop. Retain dignity, not pride.
You guys are really sensitive about this issue, I realize im a noob but dont accuse me of being ignorant. No one has ever accused me of being ignorant to my face, and the majority of people who know me would tell you that I am a good listener.
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Old 07-06-08, 12:14 PM   #15
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If you can be patient enough and are willing to learn, go for it. What's the worst that can happen? Get turned down?
I cant take that kind of rejection.
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Old 07-06-08, 12:16 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by v1k1ng1001 View Post
I managed a large shop when I was in my mid 20s. We always hired one or two high school kids from the neighborhood to help out part time, mostly cleaning, stocking and merchandising. It is likely that you won't be in a sales position working with customers but it is possible that you can help the mechanic with repairs in the shop. One of the kids that I hired turned into a damn good mechanic.
They're a new bike shop and i dont think they even have a full time mechanic yet so, Im hopeful.
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Old 07-06-08, 12:17 PM   #17
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You'd have a wonderful opportunity to learn if they hire you. I agree with the advice to be humble - be willing to accept minimum wage and potentially crappy hours, complete "menial" tasks with grace, treat customers like gold, and other employees with respect. Have good personal references. (I realize you probably don't have much in the way of employment references.) Any non-relatives who can confirm that you're not entirely clueless around a bike?

BTW, these tips do not come from any bike shop experience, but rather my experience with hiring teenage children of agency employees for summer office work.

(P.S. I created a link to this thread from the Industry Subforum in case other shop owners and employees are willing to share advice.)
Actually i have a few volunteer services I have worked at who have told me that they would greatly vouch for me if I needed them to.

Thank you for the sub forum, greatly appreciate it.
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Old 07-06-08, 12:23 PM   #18
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I agree with WB 100% here... I'd look at this as a learning opportunity as you are gonna be amazed at all the stuff you didn't know.

I have a volunteer at our co-op who is just a little older than you and she has some good basic skills, is a total gear head and a really hard worker.

She also thought she knew a lot about bikes until she started spending time in the shop.
Everyone says im either too full of myself or lazy, finding the balance between the two when in writing seems difficult for me, neither represent my personality. Especially with this bike shop I know that my performance is critical to giving them a good name. So if I have ever worked hard at a job it WILL be this one.
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Old 07-06-08, 07:37 PM   #19
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I started working at this shop [New England Bicycle] a little over two years ago and am now the sales manager here. Began by sweeping the floors, cleaning the bathrooms, changing flats and getting coffee.

The work ain't too glamorous but you get to be around bikes all day and hang out with people that love cycling and know a helluva lot more about bikes than yourself.

So, go for it. There's nothing to lose. If you're real ambitious you may end up running the joint a couple years later
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Old 07-06-08, 07:42 PM   #20
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you cant get the job unless you ask. worst thing they can say is no. best thing is yes. go for it.
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Old 07-06-08, 07:48 PM   #21
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First, make sure the shop knows you, shop a few times, ask some questions, introduce yourself, then go into the shop on a busy Saturday. Look around. Are there more customers than the sales staff can handle? If yes, then they probably could use someone. Go back on a Monday or something to get an app.
I've got the best job in the world in a bike shop now. I just moved up to the floor this past month after a summer of building bikes, and now I do smaller mechanic jobs in the front stands instead of The Hole building bikes.
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Old 07-06-08, 07:50 PM   #22
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Go for it.
You may find yourself doing menial tasks but it still is a lot of fun.
I worked as a bike assembler when I was 18 and it was a great summer job.
I learned a lot and years later I understood why they didn't let me touch the important jobs!
But when I was hired I was told this simple fact.
A bike mechanic not only repairs current configurations, but those that have existed for the last 30 years.
So unless I knew how to fix a 3-speed hub, build wheel sets or re-thread an obsolete BB I was the low guy on the ladder.
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Old 07-06-08, 08:13 PM   #23
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I started working at this shop [New England Bicycle] a little over two years ago and am now the sales manager here. Began by sweeping the floors, cleaning the bathrooms, changing flats and getting coffee.

The work ain't too glamorous but you get to be around bikes all day and hang out with people that love cycling and know a helluva lot more about bikes than yourself.

So, go for it. There's nothing to lose. If you're real ambitious you may end up running the joint a couple years later
If i were real ambitious i would go to college.






jk, but I am going to college, but this will have to remain a summer job.
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Old 07-06-08, 08:15 PM   #24
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Im currently trying to learn wheelbuilding, but its difficult because i havnt been able to get any hands on experience. I have read a ton but i know it doesnt count worth beans.



Stupid wheels wont come untrued!!!!!
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Old 07-06-08, 09:39 PM   #25
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I've been tinkering on bikes since I was a little kid, have volunteered at several non profit shops for many years, and now get paid to work on bikes and teach people how to repair their own bikes in our community shop.

I've worked on nearly every kind of bike you can imagine, build my own wheels, build wheels for other people, do a lot of custom work, and what I know is still mere drops in a much larger bucket of knowledge.

My partner graduated from Barnett's and will admit that he is still learning new stuff nearly every day.

If you want to build wheels find an old wheel in reasonable shape (you want a true hoop with no bends) and disassemble it... then you can put it back together, tension it, true it. and dish it.

If you screw that up it costs very little whereas screwing up a bunch of new parts can be pretty costly... the bits for my new fixed wheel on my tourer were $120.00.

I helped my friend build up his new mtb wheels and his parts were nearly $500.00... that is a lot of trust and the guys at the LBS have said it is one of the best built wheel sets they have ever seen.

A bike shop will also be pretty cautious about letting someone with little or no experience build wheels as if there is a failure and someone is injured they could be held liable... and those parts are expensive too.
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