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Old 01-23-12, 10:56 AM   #1
MeredithW
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Basic Accessories & Components a Bike Cafe Should Carry?

I am writing a hypothetical business plan for a bike store & cafe for my MBA program. It is supposed to be a coffee shop that carries a minimum selection of bike components and accessories. Originally I was thinking tires, tubes, hand pumps, tool kits, etc. I wanted to hear what sort of products you would like to see carried at place like this. I want to cater to road bikers. Also, how many kinds and what kinds of tubes/tires/whatever do you think would be appropriate? I appreciate any opinions! Thank you!
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Old 01-23-12, 11:06 AM   #2
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First, you could do worse than search out some of the previous "What do you carry?" threads.

On my bike I carry:

Headlight
Blinkies
Spare tube
Tube repair kit
Tire irons
Frame-mounted pump
Multi-kit
Spoke wrench

I'd think the spoke wrench is overkill for most people. 3-4 tube sizes, plus one for 26" (MTB) wheels, should be sufficient. You'll want about the same number of tire sizes.

You might want to stick with tubes, patch kits, and perhaps CO2 cartridges. These are consumables, that you (the store owner) won't have to install. And perhaps AA and AAA batteries for the lights. Refer customers to a better stocked LBS for everything else.
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Old 01-23-12, 11:11 AM   #3
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That sounds to me like a tough model but I'm old so what do I know.

I'm thinking impulse purchase items like t-shirts and jerseys, but clothing is hard because it comes in colors and sizes so you have to carry a lot.

Inner tubes are a similar issue. It used to be 2 sizes and 2 valve styles would pretty much cover you for adult bikes. Those days are gone.
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Old 01-23-12, 11:17 AM   #4
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YIKES! We had a very nice place called the Cyclers' Cafe just a few miles from here. They carried great post-ride burritos. They went out of business last year.

ANyway, to your question:
1. Team up with a first-rate coffee roaster, someone who really knows the business. No Starbucks or Seatlles Best. Here in Louisville I'm thinking of a place called Sunergos. Even if the bike business is slow, make the appeal of the coffee high.

2. For little do-dads, most people go online. However, the problem online is you have to pay shipping costs. If you could figure out how to interface with the online shops in such a way as to save the customer shipping costs, that would be cool. I have no idea how someone would do that.

3. The bikes should be "sexy", whatever that means. Cyclers Cafe sold Felt and Kona, great bikes but not sexy (whatever that means). A sexy bike would be something like Volagi, plus they recently got all sorts of free press.

4. If you open shop in an aging demographic, consider carrying a line of recumbent bikes. If I had spare change, I'd bet on these. They are way easier on the 60 y/o body.

Hope that helps.
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Old 01-23-12, 11:50 AM   #5
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-Cheap rain jackets
-tubes
-Chain Lube
-a few styles of both front and rear lights and various sizes of batteries
-tool & repair kits
-Seat bags to carry stuff
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Old 01-23-12, 12:34 PM   #6
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I'd say, go ask the potential customers.

For starters, pretty much none of the cyclists I run around with would be at a cycling cafe. With that thought in mind, you need to identify who the proposed customers are. Are these road bikers in spandex? Hipsters on fixed gear bikes? Hobos/DUI drivers on cruisers?

Secondly, do you have local bike stores reasonably close already? If so, you don't need to carry much except for stuff like tubes. Otherwise, it'd be food stuff, and maybe t-shirt or jersey if it had really cool graphics.

If people ride their bikes to the shop, they're probably not going to leave with a floor pump, too bulky.
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Old 01-23-12, 01:12 PM   #7
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Do we write the Dissertation too?
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Old 01-23-12, 01:27 PM   #8
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If it is a cycling cafe it shoould be in a place where a lot of cyclists have access to it. Somethere along a well traveled bike route for roadies would work if you provide plenty of secure parking. Remember roadies hardly ever carry a lock. You just need Tubes, Tires, patch kits, maybe some Gu and Electrolytes, cycling caps, master links, tire tools, head bands, CO-2s and maybe a CO-2 air chuck. You should also have a big TV or Screen and have Versa or some channel with cycling events. It would be a good idea to stock some Cds of some cycling races and endurance events as well.

Most MTB riders will simply need somewhere to park their trucks and you could stock some of the same equipment as you did for roadies. The videos would be different and unless you are located at a trail head there is a better chance they will be better equipped to eat larger meals because they will have their vehicle and wallet with them.

Commuters and Utility cyclists just need a bike friendly place where they can park their bike and lock it up.
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Old 01-23-12, 01:47 PM   #9
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How feasible does it have to be? My dream bike cafe would have all sorts of old bikes and hard-to-find parts for sale, with no condescension.
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Old 01-23-12, 04:21 PM   #10
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I wouldn't go overboard on the available tools. Just a floor pump, several size tubes, some paper towels and a multi-tool. The more tools you have, the greater the expectation. Spend more on retro posters, bike decor, maybe a beautiful retro bike hanging from the ceiling, and grippy, squishy rubber mats that are easy to walk on in cleated shoes. Even if you stock a wide variety of spokes and spare parts, you will rarely have exactly what some nit-picky roadie needs. Some of us are never unpeeved, just ask anyone who's ever worked in a bike shop.
Bike shops don't make money--the more you delve into the bike maintenance aspect, the less viable your model will become, IMO. But having these basics will score big points with your intended audience.
I'd concentrate on bike security though--bikes are always getting nicked from the popular bike coffee shops. I used to love those quarter-lockers you'd see at public swimming pools and train stations--does such a device yet exist for bicycle cable locks? If not, how about an ID-for-Key deposit? Get your license back when you bring the Key back.
Also location, location, location. It's spirit-crushing to sit in a beautiful cafe in a location that would be idyllic, were it not for the constant rush of high-speed auto traffic.
The hipster thing will be a great target initially, but it won't last forever. And if your coffee shop caters exclusively to one type of cyclist or the other you'll lose. Therefore I'd made your outdoor patio no-smoking.
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Old 01-23-12, 05:20 PM   #11
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There is a similar place here in Dana Point: http://revocycles.com/
It's an A- location, but a B- location from a cyclists' perspective because it's in car-central PCH. It's a nice, higher end bike shop with a latte bar inside, but the latte bar has languished over time. It's not a particularly pleasant (or even shady) place to hang out, basically a pricy bicycle dealership.

If you provide couches, make sure they're patent leather or something easy to clean--a soft cloth couch will get pretty nasty after a few dozen sweaty butts, and many cyclists are pretty prissy.
If you put a widescreen in with race footage or Breaking Away playing constantly, I'd put it behind the register or pastry case, so the hearth/focus remains close to your product & register.
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