I've enjoyed reading PlatyPius's thread on his new shop and didn't want to hijack with my own questions. The thread has been a good read (as have some of the others here) and pretty timely as I have started looking into the possibility of my own shop.
To start with, I know the challenges of small business ownership. My dad has been a small business owner my entire life and I have watched the ins and outs from the sidelines. I also feel that seeing this has better prepared me for the reality. I know this isn't going to be easy and will require much hard work. I won't have much to start out and it will definitely be a labor of love.
I'm in Central Ohio. We have a pretty strong and diverse bike community and around 20 shops currently. Through some work with one of our bike organizations, I've made some acquaintances in one of our local neighborhoods who have expressed interest in seeing a bike shop open. Despite the number of shops in our region, this area is pretty under served. There has been a recent influx of younger homeowners, taking advantage of the foreclosures in the area which is bringing more disposable income into the area. The area is still pretty rough but there is hope as new people continue to come in.
I feel I have a pretty good handle on the area and what would work best. I do intend to work with some of the cyclists from the area to help me. Largely looking at opening a shop with a decent range of bikes and prices, though largely focused on more hybrid/comfort/commuter/utility around $400-500 or under. Also looking at doing consignment to add some used options.
At this point it's largely just putting things on paper and figuring out what the startup costs would be, what brands I should be looking at, trying to understand the industry a bit better. I probably won't open for another year and a half to two years.
If anyone has any good advice I would greatly appreciate it. Mostly I am looking to learn which brands/manufacturers/distributors are most conducive to a small start up. Which distributors have the best terms. Which bike brands have the better price points and variety.
So far, I am looking at KHS, Downtube, Yuba Mundo to start. Also looking at Seattle Bike Supply (with a warehouse local), which would also give me access to Redline-another brand I am interested in.
I'm also interested in partnering with someone in Central Ohio to make this a reality. I am not as strong on the service shop side of things as I feel I would be on the retail/sales/marketing aspect.