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If you were to open your own LBS what would you do?

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If you were to open your own LBS what would you do?

Old 02-10-13, 08:19 PM
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b dub 
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If you were to open your own LBS what would you do?

I have fantasies of opening up my own local bike shop.

Rationally spoken this does not make a whole lot of sense. I would have to give up my 8 to 5 Monday to Friday desk job and I can pretty much say goodbye to my family life.

And then the financial side of the picture; a lot of work and financial risk while the changes of making it are pretty dismal.

But what can be more fun than having the chance to express my passion about bikes and biking, and tinkering with bikes all day long.

I’m sure my fantasy is way too romantic and glorified.

So what have you observed as potential biking related niche markets small bike shops should jump on?
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Old 02-10-13, 08:25 PM
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I'd likely starve and end up divorced. In a market near Universities, I'd shoot for fixing and flipping with a keen eye to bicycle fashion.
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Old 02-10-13, 08:30 PM
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I'd specialize in custom road and touring bikes, with high quality frames built by individual craftsman-builders, and provide my customers with a smorgasbord of components with which to dress them out with.

I would not allow anyone to have any brifters though. No way.
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Old 02-10-13, 08:43 PM
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I'd focus on practical bikes - city/urban, touring, commuting, utility, trekking, possibly recumbents and recumbent trikes.

We'd build wheels in house, specializing in IGH and dynamo builds for customers.
I've always dreamed of learning to braze my own frames, and would start my own line of custom and stock frames, everything from straight gauge 4130 to lighter, thinner butted tubing. All frames would be powdercoated and I'd have a small range of house-brand stock bikes on hand to augment the other brands in the shop.

Another thing I've tossed around in my head is to open a local co-op.
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Old 02-10-13, 08:56 PM
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I've always envisioned a kind of hobby shop in semi retirement. Bikes/Airsoft guns/Archery Equipment. All the toys I like to play with. Probably be hard to break even, but if we had a base income I'd do it for fun.
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Old 02-10-13, 09:10 PM
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First thing I would do is find a friend in the insurance industry and have a nice chat about liability.. Build a wheel something happens it's on you, you build a frame something happens it's on you.. Hell do a tune up on a bike and something happens thats right it's all on you. Thats today's society like it or not. I've worked at a lbs full time for that past 10 years and I love every day of it but when the day comes my boss retires i'll be looking for another job vs buying it from him and taking over. The time/money invested compared to what you get back calling it a labor of love is putting it nicely. That hobby/passion feeling goes away after the first 3-4 years of living it day in and day out after that its just another job. I used to race mountain and road bikes. After that 4 year mark I gave it up cause I was sick of bikes and didn't want to deal with the stresses of racing and being around that type of person. Thats what drew me to the c+v side of things, you don't just open a catalog and order what your credit card allows you to buy, you search for correct parts, spend time loving your bike, overhaul those unsealed bb's instead of replacing them with a sealed unit, actually riding your bike because you don't worry about having something break and dealing with the warranty department the next day. c+v brought enjoyment back to cycling for me even though my daily life has me around bikes 8+ hours a day.
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Old 02-10-13, 09:20 PM
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I worked in a shop for 12 years and had the opportunity to buy the shop. The whole thing...the buisness, building, inventory and the apartments above the buisness. I passed on it. NFW. In the past year I passed on another and just recently contemplated buying another.

As much as I'd love to have a hobby career I know too much about the industry to leave my current gig, which to be honest, is pretty ***n sweet.

There's is no niche to target....you'll go out of buisness quick or make very little money in the niche world. Back in my shop days the bread n butter was $350-500 bikes, that's where the money was. It may be different now. I look at how some of the local shops are run with million dollar inventory, massive square footage thats rented and 10 employees standing around doing nothing......thats a hell of a lot of over head. I could make a killing....like mad fat stacks of cash killing but I'd have to work 80 hours of week (I work 30 now), I'd have to work every weekend for the rest of my life (I work 1 or 2 weekend days a year now), I'd get 2 weeks vaction if I'm lucky (I get 6 now), I'd have to pay $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ for Obamasurance, I pay $$$ for insurance through work and on top of that I'd take a big pay cut. I'll stay where I am......

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Old 02-10-13, 09:27 PM
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I'd only do it if I win the PCH sweepstakes, and it won't be here.
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Old 02-10-13, 09:39 PM
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I'd have to pay $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ for Obamasurance

If your LBS has more than 50 employees.
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Old 02-10-13, 09:44 PM
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Bike shop downstairs, my wife would run a yarn shop upstairs. That way we could burn through our savings twice as fast and get it over with.

Maintaining a corporate or city bike-share fleet might be a niche job. Get yourself a power-assist utility trike with a portable repair shop, and a trailer to back-haul bikes.

Being an outfitter and guide in New Zealand is my unrealistic fantasy.
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Old 02-10-13, 09:44 PM
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My opinion and advice: do not turn a hobby you enjoy into a job. The closest I get to doing this is bartering for other work.
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Old 02-10-13, 09:48 PM
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There is an old joke that goes:

Q:How do you judge the best Dairy farmer ?
A:It's the one who takes the longest to go through a million bucks.

It's kinda like that with your average LBS in this place and time.

My advice would be to marry well, and maybe the business losses
can be offset against your wife's income as a neurosurgeon.
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Old 02-10-13, 09:53 PM
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Micro-brewery with pizza and sandwiches- Vintage bikes and longboards as artwork with price tags. (I'm in San Diego)Eat, drink and fall in love with a Colnago and buy it.
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Old 02-10-13, 09:53 PM
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I'd use it as a front for selling weed.
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Old 02-10-13, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
I'd use it as a front for selling weed.
What's the address?
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Old 02-10-13, 10:12 PM
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i'd rather be involved with a co-op or something.. that's one thing San Jose sorely needs. Would be cool to accept donations, fix up the ones that are easy, tear the rest down to use the parts to fix other bikes and also resell the frames and parts for cheap. would also offer tools and space to work on bikes for co-op members

there's a place like this in SJ but they don't sell individual parts, and prefer to only sell refurbished bikes. maybe i just need to volunteer there and talk them into having a "for sale" parts bin at least
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Old 02-10-13, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Velognome View Post
What's the address?
420 Mary Jane Avenue
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Old 02-10-13, 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
I'd use it as a front for selling weed.
Seriously, it is incredibly difficult and you need to cater to all facets of cycling and also try to carve out a thing you are known for. Where I worked it was TT bikes, before that it was commuting.

90% of the time you will be educating people on a level that isn't interesting and the dream of people coming in who are genuine bike nerds interesting in chatting will be small. If your shop is groovy you might get a lot of these like minded people and at first it will seems great and like you are drumming up business and getting a name for yourself. Then as you start to stress about the bottom line you will slowly start to resent the bike nerds and anal customers who want to talk and talk and never buy anything expensive (because they are all like us and buy online). You will see other potential customers coming into the store and you will have to start brushing aside the bike nerd because you shouldn't waste your time on them when there is a paying customer to attend to. Then you will notice the bike nerd talking to your mechanic and asking a million questions and lingering and their productivity will drop. Sure you can hope that you don't have to be like that and that your shop can be a community for people to chat, but slowly the stress of not making ends meat will get to you (remember it will take at least 5 years to be profitable). Very few shops have the ability to create that kind of atmosphere and still be profitable and the ones that do are usually big and move lots of volume so they have money to do the cool stuff and can have more employees to talk to people about bikes. It's an extremely hard industry to be in. My former boss is in his 60s he works 6 days a week and sometimes 7 and has for the last 20 years. He would love to retire but his wife doesn't work and his daughter and son in law are both reliant on some income from him and they have a child. It's hard.

Me? I'd focus on clothing (at least 50%) and I'd want it to be urban chic cycle clothing. There would be mannequins just like in a clothing store with cool displays. there would be lots of cool bags and accessories and I would focus on utility cycling. Cargo, commuting, touring and randonneuring/sport touring. I would try to get the shop self sufficient and then start building frames in the back/basement and sell them in the shop. They'd be fillet brazed or Tig welded and pretty basic at first until I built a name for myself...

ah dreams... okay back to processing stage records into discharge....
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Old 02-10-13, 10:39 PM
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I have no comment.
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Old 02-10-13, 10:45 PM
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I am currently working in a shop full time. Not to get rich, because that won't happen, but to pass the time, and be around bikes again. It has it's ups and downs. But overall, it's been fulfilling these past few months.
Lot's of appreciative customers, kids, and good feedback. Some POS's to a Pinarello Dogma I've worked on. Learned quite a bit too.
Bikes are my hobby, and I'm a natural wrench. So, for now, it's the most fun job I've had.

Would I open a shop of my own? I don't know. I've learned location is important to sustainability. I'm in the wealthy part of town, so the shop is able to weather the bad economy. I was told business was really good before the crash. Not unusual to have folks drop 7000-10000 on a custom bike. We still cater to the kid with the flat repair. Most shops don't even acknowledge such customers around here.
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Old 02-10-13, 10:46 PM
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Seriously, the first thing I would do is close it as fast as possible, to keep from going through the meager funds I have accumulated over the years.

As a hobby? Great! As a business? No thanks. Its seasonal (at least around here), you end up competing on new bikes with all the various internet brands, as the major consumer brands all start looking the same.

The clothing idea above is kind of interesting. I will call it the "Harley strategy". Fill your store with high margin clothing, trinkets, whatever, and occasionally even a motorcycle or two.

Around here, it seems like a shop goes out of business every six months or so (and a lot of them were not open for long). I've bought a fair amount of parts and tools from these guys. You get to see the other side of the dream. Maybe I am a better business person, and could last one or even two years....
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Old 02-10-13, 10:49 PM
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Yes, close it ASAP and go into bankruptcy.

I've had many neighbors who have asked if I will work on their bikes. For friends I will if there are there to help. For everybody else, my mental response is "I only work on my own whips. Why would I want to work on your POS."
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Old 02-10-13, 10:50 PM
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Yes, close it ASAP and go into bankruptcy.

I've had many neighbors who have asked if I will work on their bikes. For friends I will if they are there to help. For everybody else, my mental response is "I only work on my own whips. Why would I want to work on your POS."
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Old 02-10-13, 10:52 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
There is an old joke that goes:

Q:How do you judge the best Dairy farmer ?
A:It's the one who takes the longest to go through a million bucks.
Did you know about the banjo player who won the lottery? When they asked him what he was going to do he said "Oh, I guess I just keep playing gigs until the money runs out."

If I had the funds to spare and the time I'd find a good machine shop to make small lots of hard-to-find items. Wouldn't make any money from it, but it would fill a need.
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Old 02-10-13, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by webike4fun View Post
Micro-brewery with pizza and sandwiches- Vintage bikes and longboards as artwork with price tags. (I'm in San Diego)Eat, drink and fall in love with a Colnago and buy it.
There's a pizza place in Vancouver, WA, Bortolami's, that's kinda like that. They have approx. 30 bikes hanging from the ceiling in the restaurant. They also make an awesome pear and bacon pizza, the Testa Della Corsa (it only sounds terrible until you try it).
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