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  1. #1
    Senior Member pablosnazzy's Avatar
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    what would the ultimate bike shop be like?

    please describe what you would consider the "ultimate" bike shop, if you could make it happen. and please be realistic. yes, i know, free beer, free labor, free schwag, and pole dancers would be part of it, but i mean if you were going to make an actual real life ultimate bike shop that is an actual real life business.

    the best mechanics are a given. the best customer service is a given. what else? what if you wanted a "cutting edge" bike shop, what would that mean to you? what would that entail?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    I'd limit my product line - only carry 1 or 2 kinds of bikes. When I had my own shop I tried to carry a little bit of everything. The result was that I couldn't afford to completely cover anything and there was always somebody else who could do each type of bike better than I could.

    You might think that the ultimate bike shop would be a huge place with volume to carry lines of every kind of bike. I think that the trouble with that is it becomes too big with too many employees and you lose the personal face of the business.

    If I were starting over today, I'd try to do one thing really, really, really well.

  3. #3
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Sell the usual range of brand named bikes for the branded shopper.

    + have a frame-builder's machine shop to make things when the off the shelf stuff wont work.

    Oh, and a "Replicator" to bring back parts from the past..

  4. #4
    Senior Member tligman's Avatar
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    I think it would be really cool to have an indoor track setup, like Ray's indoor mountain bike park does... maybe a couple of them, so that I could encourage a sort of community around hanging out at my bike shop and let people really try out a bike before they buy it -- 3 miles on a closed loop or a mile on a setup with some jumps and things would be a lot better than just riding down the aisle of the shop, or maybe around the block to see how something feels for people considering a total new purchase, and having it fairly inexpensive to go on an hour or two ride without getting rained or snowed on with your own bike and snacks and stuff afterwards would probably keep my accessory sales pretty good as well.

    I don't know how many lines to carry of the good bikes, but it might be worth trying to also sell a couple of the "department store bikes" so that a person could directly compare the difference between them and the nicer bikes that I preferred to sell. And just because someone makes a bad decision and buys a piece of junk doesn't mean that I don't still want to be the guy to sell it to them.

    And, of course, free beer and strippers in the owner's office....

  5. #5
    Senior Member jdon's Avatar
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    A great selection of bikes, parts, clothing and equipment. Represent some niche manufacturers.
    Have attached coffee shop and also a pub with patio.
    Locate to a popular riding area, near trail heads for MTB guys.
    Have well developed riding groups for road and MTB.
    Have a spin room, dedicated fit room, on site massage and nutritionist.
    Have a former pro operate a touring company on site.
    Employ a couple of trainers and coaches.
    Offer bike storage and apres ride cleaning.
    Make it a destination store and really cool place to hang out.

    Then sit back and watch my large investment go broke..
    Last edited by jdon; 09-15-10 at 11:39 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by maddmaxx View Post
    How are you ever going to live in the real world if you can't get along with people who don't believe what you do?

  6. #6
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    I thought this was cool when I read about it:

    http://www.bicycling.com/news/featur...bikes-and-beer

  7. #7
    Velocommuter Commando Sirrus Rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikeFoz View Post
    I thought this was cool when I read about it:

    http://www.bicycling.com/news/featur...bikes-and-beer
    I'd say 50/50 BikeFoz and jdon's ideas. A bike friendly Pub on one side of the building and on the other side of a low wall the full service bike shop.
    Riding 19 Years of Specialized Sirrus Tradition.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member jr59's Avatar
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    I think jdon had a few good ideas.

    Make it a destination
    Make it a cool place to hang out
    Rep some niche bikes
    Have a number of different type of rides and bike events at your store. ie...MTB, road race, road tour pace.

    But most of all, make it FUN and helpful.
    There is nothing like going to spend your $$$ and the people make you feel like they are doing you a favor.

    There is something to be said for knowing your name, what your riding is like, how you like to ride and what you ride.

    I'll pay more for what I need/want in that type of shop. (although not that much more).

    Be fair with people.

  9. #9
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    The two shops that I really like locally have one thing in common- it is very easy to get to know the owners and staff. They are friendly. They are cool places to hang out even if I'm not buying anything.

    One other thing: Be cost conscious. Don't engage in extravagances that don't help the customer. One of the shops I like is in a strip mall, nothing fancy. The other is in a recently renovated urban storefront. They didn't quite finish the renovation though (by design) and the place looks like it's been there 100 years. It saves money and makes the place noteworthy.
    Last edited by Doohickie; 09-15-10 at 02:06 PM.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  10. #10
    STFD mcgreivey's Avatar
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    A shop with a big old (dry) basement full of parts. They never can say, "Hmmm. Looks like you need to think about getting another bike. We can't get parts for that anymore", because they always have at least one more downstairs.

  11. #11
    Hi, folks sdold's Avatar
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    I'd like to see a shop that takes used bikes in trade, fixes them up if needed, and sells them cheap to kids and people without a lot of cash. I really like idea of bike co-ops. A bike shop that has a monthly swap (or even yearly) would be cool.
    -----
    "Some people canít tandem. It doesnít make them bad people, just not quite as fortunate"
    --Rick Jorgensen, davistandems.com

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Sales staff who have actually had some customer service training.

    Sales staff who know their product ... who know what the shop sells, and have some idea of what else there is out there on the market.


    A shop that caters to cycletourists, recreational cyclists, long distance cyclists, commuters ... and not racers, and not mountain bikers. There are heaps of bicycle shops that cater to racers and mountain bikers already ... but there aren't many that cater to the cyclists who want comfortable road bicycles that can take racks and panniers.

    I envision a shop that carries sport-touring and touring bicycles, has walls of panniers and other bags, carries Schmidt dynohubs and the lamps to go with them, etc. etc. I also see a shop that has a map and travel book section, with posters and fliers about the local centuries and audax rides. If you want the shop to be a destination, the shop might consider having presentations by long distance cyclists and cycletourists about their adventures once a month.

    The shop would also hold classes once a month on bicycle maintenance and repair, leaning toward on-the-road repair techniques which might be used by long distance cyclists or cycletourists out in the middle of nowhere. One shop I know of held a fairly extensive 12 week course, one or two days a week on bicycle maintenance and repair. By the end of it, a person could do pretty much all their own work on their bicycles. I regret I couldn't take the course at that time and I'd like to see more shops do that sort of thing.

  13. #13
    Senior Member pablosnazzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jr59 View Post
    I think jdon had a few good ideas.

    Make it a destination
    Make it a cool place to hang out
    .......
    i think jdon had some good ideas as well....

    ok, so destination and cool place to hang out....what does that mean? that is sort of what i was getting at. what would make it a cool place to hang out? can you describe it? is it more than just a vibe? what makes a bike shop a cool place to hang out? and also, what do you mean by "destination"?

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pablosnazzy View Post
    ok, so destination and cool place to hang out....what does that mean? that is sort of what i was getting at. what would make it a cool place to hang out? can you describe it? is it more than just a vibe? what makes a bike shop a cool place to hang out? and also, what do you mean by "destination"?
    A place that caters to older, more mature cyclists ... a place that plays music from the 60s/70s/80s ... a place where no one wears their cap sideways ...

    And as mentioned in my post above ... a place that caters to travellers and adventurers. A place that holds presentations by travellers and adventurers once a month ... presentations about lengthy tours across Europe or China, for example, or someone's preparation for the Paris-Brest-Paris, or tips on how to pack panniers for cycletourists, or tips on cycle-commuting. A place that holds regular mechanics courses of various sorts.

    And, of course, a place with a decent website listing all their up-coming events (as well as the products they have for sale).

    A place like that would end up on my Favourites list and I'd check them regularly to see what interesting things they've got going on. I don't have time or the desire to just "hang out" somewhere, but would be interested in going their if they had an interesting and informative reason to go.


    Pity such a place exists only in my imagination ... or at least, I haven't come across anything like that in all my travels.

  15. #15
    Senior Member xizangstan's Avatar
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    NO ONE CAN SPECIALIZE IN EVERYTHING! Here's the ideal "bike shop"... A bike SHOPPING CENTER, with several individual bike stores or shops in it. Much like a food court in a big mall, an entire destination Bike Shopping Mall, housing a number of different shops - one specializing in touring bikes, another in road bikes, another in mountain bikes. Maybe a shop like Recycled Cycles in Ft. Collins, Colorado - where they have most any used part you can think of from most any bike there was. Just a big collection of all sorts of individual specialty shops.

    And of course, there would have to be a UPS or FedEx shop, where you could have your bike or stuff packed and sent back home safely.

    This Bicycle Shopping Mall would need to be located along a trail or beach, near a romantic destination vacation village in Mexico, Costa Rica, or someplace you would want to go on vacation...
    Who is John Galt?

  16. #16
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xizangstan View Post
    NO ONE CAN SPECIALIZE IN EVERYTHING! Here's the ideal "bike shop"... A bike SHOPPING CENTER, with several individual bike stores or shops in it.
    Kind of along the lines of this place ...
    http://www.unitedcycle.com/
    http://www.unitedcycle.com/newstore/

    Not just bicycles, but sporting equipment of all sorts. I have to say it was one of the more impressive bicycle shops I've been in. And the variety of sporting equipment make it a viable business.

  17. #17
    Senior Member KD5NRH's Avatar
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    City council members in stocks, and $1/minute cat o' nine tails rental.

  18. #18
    Senior Member jdon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xizangstan View Post
    NO ONE CAN SPECIALIZE IN EVERYTHING! Here's the ideal "bike shop"... A bike SHOPPING CENTER, with several individual bike stores or shops in it. Much like a food court in a big mall, an entire destination Bike Shopping Mall, housing a number of different shops
    The idea has been done. They called it a department store. Then when "branded" stores became the place to shop, department stores like Walmart started importing those brands, thus the ring of popular eyeglass, photo, food services that surround the body of the store. This was pioneered by Fred Meyer stores and was a very successful business model.

    To encompass the cycling business is to specialize in all facets of it. Much like Bass Pro encompasses fishing/ hunting/ outdoor life.

    For a retail business to become a success, you can't just tailor the shop to the guy who wants to buy a widget and leave. You would serve that client but your focus would be on creating an environment that people want to be a part of. They want selection of branded items, maybe they want the guy in the back who builds wheels all day to build them a pair and they proudly display their "abc bikes" labeled handmade wheelset. The atmosphere and staff make a store. As mentioned, they have to know their stuff. They have to live what you are selling.

    The right store would be accepted by "Freds, posers and racer types" of all cycling disciplines and none would be discriminated against. They are all buying what you are.

    The environment, services, riding groups, products and staff would make it a destination store. Coupled with a place to chill and enjoy a preride coffee or post ride lunch and beer with cycling conversation in store or on patio, would make it a cool place to be.

    A destination store is a business people don't stumble upon, they have decided to go there and for all the right reasons. It's a cool place to get their cycling fix.
    Quote Originally Posted by maddmaxx View Post
    How are you ever going to live in the real world if you can't get along with people who don't believe what you do?

  19. #19
    Senior Member pablosnazzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    A place that holds presentations by travellers and adventurers once a month.....

    A place that holds regular mechanics courses of various sorts.......

    And, of course, a place with a decent website listing all their up-coming events (as well as the products they have for sale)..
    these are freakin good ideas.....

  20. #20
    Senior Member xizangstan's Avatar
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    There was something special that took Home Depot or Lowe's from a small hardware store to what they are today. They didn't branch out to become Walmart. They stayed with what they do best. They just got bigger and better at large-scale retailing in their field.

    In addition to managing large marinas, my company manages boatyards. A good boatyard will include a welder, an electronics shop, a paint shop, an engine shop, etc. They don't compete against one another. Instead, they share a collective draw. I would think a collection of several independent bicycle shops under one roof (like a bicycle shopping center) would be successful the same way - complementing one another, not in competition. A guy wanting a road bike isn't likely to buy a mountain bike instead.
    Who is John Galt?

  21. #21
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    I would like two types of bike shops and not a retailer model. Therefore, your question on "ultimate bike shop" I hope, would not assume a retailer model.

    I don't think the mechanic and bike fitting aspect should be mixed with the bike sales. Its like going to a financial planner who is going to steer you to his brand of mutual funds because the special relationship he has or his limited brokerage license status.

    That said, it means the mechanics need to be better, more educated in their craft. Some are and some aren't. With better qualification comes better service rather than someone performing things in a perfunctory manner. Bike fit experts come with their fitting software and approach. Some are good and a few are really good. The good one's are independent or "borrow" space in big shops that carry high end stuff.

    A customer who is willing to lay down good money, should be able to speak to someone, like an expert in fitting and mechanics, to determine what's "best for him". The rest is the frameset and groupsets and wheelsets, other things. Those things are commodities but with particular bents. For instance Cervelo makes mostly racing oriented bikes. Not everyone fits this model.

    Custom frames are for two types: those who have reasonable justification because of body geometry, and those who just "wanna get one" because steel is real, or bamboo.

    The big manufacturers have billions in annual sales and are not willing to change the way it is. They force the retailer to carry their lines in the way they like it. The retail becomes the pitchman for their products, ie Specialized Concept stores.

  22. #22
    elcraft
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    Quote Originally Posted by sdold View Post
    I'd like to see a shop that takes used bikes in trade, fixes them up if needed, and sells them cheap to kids and people without a lot of cash. I really like idea of bike co-ops. A bike shop that has a monthly swap (or even yearly) would be cool.
    In Boston, there is Bikes Not Bombs. Although they don't take bikes for trade, they accept "donations" that are fixed up for resale at a reasonable price. They train local youth to do the repairs; thereby giving them a marketable skill. They allow these "students" to "work" towards the purchase of one of these re-furbished bikes. They have some used parts (Unfortunately not as many as before) for sale on a no guarantee/noreturn basis. They tend towards basic transportation/commuting type bikes. They stock one of the better selections of 27" tires, to properly support the many older cycles that they have sold. They export bicycles to troubled places around the globe or in America to improve living standards. They were involved with an "Appropriate Technology" project with Mass Inst. of Tech. to make bicycle powered corn-grinding mills for Central American co-operive farmers. These farmers lacked the skills, tools , and materials to keep diesel powered mills operating. Check out there website!
    http://bikesnotbombs.org/

  23. #23
    Senior Member pablosnazzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garfield Cat View Post
    I would like two types of bike shops and not a retailer model. Therefore, your question on "ultimate bike shop" I hope, would not assume a retailer model.

    I don't think the mechanic and bike fitting aspect should be mixed with the bike sales. Its like going to a financial planner who is going to steer you to his brand of mutual funds because the special relationship he has or his limited brokerage license status. ......
    while i sort of see your point, i don't think i quite understand. an "ultimate" shop would have a great mechanic and sales people who know how to fit a bike to a person. unless i misunderstand (which is most likely) why would you want one place to fit and fix, and a separate place to sell bikes and bike parts? most if not all bike shops carry different lines of bikes, e.g. specialized, gt, and yeti. the geometry is different in all three bikes, so you get a quality fitting, and the sales person can recommend what bike would fit. you don't HAVE to go with what specialized is on the floor, you can get a bike that fits you most comfortably.

  24. #24
    Senior Member xizangstan's Avatar
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    I think the most important thing any bike shop can offer is INTEGRITY. That would include things like Honesty, Sincerity, Consideration for the customer. I got screwed at a bike shop that pleased the hell out of me when it went broke.

    I'm not sure there are that many bike shops that truly practice INTEGRITY.
    Who is John Galt?

  25. #25
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pablosnazzy View Post
    while i sort of see your point, i don't think i quite understand. an "ultimate" shop would have a great mechanic and sales people who know how to fit a bike to a person. unless i misunderstand (which is most likely) why would you want one place to fit and fix, and a separate place to sell bikes and bike parts? most if not all bike shops carry different lines of bikes, e.g. specialized, gt, and yeti. the geometry is different in all three bikes, so you get a quality fitting, and the sales person can recommend what bike would fit. you don't HAVE to go with what specialized is on the floor, you can get a bike that fits you most comfortably.
    Imagine having a pro fitter and a mechanic go with you to various bike shops to shop for a new bike. The fitter knows your biking history, injuries and all, and knows what will fit for you, bars for your small hands, cleat position for your pronation, etc. They go in as your advisor and ask the bike shop what is available. They tell the bike shop manager what the group set is going to be, the chain rings, the pedals, etc. The shop prices the deal and your mechanic does the build. Now imagine that using the internet. The same two guys, the fitter and mechanic search for the best deal on the internet and get exactly what you want or need. You get delivery and the same two guys begin the build while you're there. There are no other customers waiting in line for repairs, just you. Then in a few weeks you need a tune up and the mechanic is there in your neighborhood. He adjusts the cables and the shifting is now perfect.

    There's the fitter, the mechanic, and the salesman, the store manager. Then there's the bike, the bike merchandise, the clothing dept. For those who want to spend only $700 on a bike, it doesn't matter. For those who spend $2,000 on a frameset, it might matter more.

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