...how easy or difficult it is to make money in the cycle trade?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
David9694
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Joined: 10 Feb 2018, 8:42am

...how easy or difficult it is to make money in the cycle trade?

Postby David9694 » 16 Aug 2018, 1:28pm

I worked in Halfords as a teenager (we were lucky in that bikes had a first floor all to themselves) and for a few weeks in a back street LBS and garage long-since closed. That’s the limit of my commercial experience.

I did a frame building course at Downland Cycles in 2015 and there was a mechanics course going on as well with some ex-Army guys and others, some of whom I remember were going to set up in business. Good for them, but I’m guilty of getting all my bike stuff on-line - in fact, I’ve become a bit of a small scale bits stock holder. Would I be, if I had a handy LBS?

I don’t have any figures on this, just a strong sense that on-line is strangling the LBS, although this is hardly unique to cycling. I’ve seen newer shops fighting back with a coffee bar offer. The apparent decline does have other consequences, such as lessening the hope of finding help with emergency repairs for us existing converts, and one less source of information and encouragement for those who decide one day “I want to go cycling,” and “but where do I start?” or “how do I get this old rust heap of mine going again?”

To attempt an answer to the title of the post, there must be: so - I’ve got my eye on a(nother) pair of my favourite pedals, Shimano M324 - best price I can find is on Wiggle and Evans @ £33.49, but shop around more and prices go up to £45 and even nudging £50- if they can sell at that price they must be making a similar margin to Wiggle/Evans, plus the difference (less VAT I guess). If they can make the sale.

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gaz
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Location: Kent, lorry park of England

Re: ...how easy or difficult it is to make money in the cycle trade?

Postby gaz » 16 Aug 2018, 1:32pm

I think a quote from this thread sums it up :wink: .
531colin wrote:Remember......every millionnaire in the bike trade started with two million....

Marcus Aurelius
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Joined: 1 Feb 2018, 10:20am

Re: ...how easy or difficult it is to make money in the cycle trade?

Postby Marcus Aurelius » 16 Aug 2018, 1:38pm

It’s the same as any retail business. The ones who succeed have to be able to strike the best deals with suppliers to keep the bottom line low enough to be able to get the margins they need. It’s not easy, and you have to stay on your toes to remain ahead. It’s very hard to survive in any retail business without an on line presence. Cycle stuff is no different. You’ll need to be social meeja savvy and know how to market yourself to stand a chance in today’s environment. The days of the moody LBS, run by a former low level ‘pro’ which seemingly exists to fuel the Sunday club ride are very much numbered. The world of business is a very fast moving and fickle one now. If you snooze you lose, if you don’t innovate, you evaporate.

scottg
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Joined: 10 Jan 2008, 8:44pm
Location: Highland Heights Kentucky,, USA

Re: ...how easy or difficult it is to make money in the cycle trade?

Postby scottg » 16 Aug 2018, 1:39pm

One good shop I know.
A. He owns the building, and is paid for.
B. He is a good mechanic, and his other mechanic is older than you.
C. Family helps staff the shop
D. Sells custom and semi-custom bikes (semi-custom is a cm+/- in TT or ST length)
Result is you see a lot of his bikes in the club.
Rides will be half Waterford/Lynskey, the balance Trekalized.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Why not the best, buy Cyclo-Benelux.

thirdcrank
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Re: ...how easy or difficult it is to make money in the cycle trade?

Postby thirdcrank » 16 Aug 2018, 3:17pm

Shops which target a specific sector of the trade seem to do well, especially if they achieve a good mail order service. Spa, SJSC, and Cycle Heaven spring to mind but there are others.

Beyond that, I wonder if a decent repair service is one of the few remaining things not dominated by mail order. I could imagine that sooner or later, somebody might get the idea for something like shoe repairers. eg Timpsons have branched out into key cutting, mobile phone repairs and similar services. The motor trade has firms specialising in tyre repair and replacement and so on. The key would be in having good mechanics, not kids on work experience. Whether enough people are prepared to cough up to cover the cost of such a service is the question. Traditionally, a lot of bike shops covered the cost of fitting accessories out of their margins so people don't expect to pay much.

In the current debate about the demise of the traditional high street, I was reading a letter from somebody who had had a thriving hi-fi business with a showroom where potential buyers could listen to different systems. His business had been wrecked when a chain selling everything in boxes had opened nearby and the staff suggested anybody wanting to try before buying should go to the first shop then return to benefit from the discounts at the no frills shop. This chap had survived by stopping selling and concentrating on quality repairs.

crazydave789
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Re: ...how easy or difficult it is to make money in the cycle trade?

Postby crazydave789 » 16 Aug 2018, 3:50pm

I helped a friend set up a shop in the 90s. he was paint sprayer for a car rental company with no real experience or indeed a cyclist. he was a bit younger than me but still around 27 or so when he started things going just over 20 years ago.

competition was harsh in york with several large established shops and smaller clique units for the burgeoning mtb scene, he started off selling cheap bikes from a wholesaler and doing repairs which paid the rent and filled the shop up with crappy old bikes. bread and butter stuff. his cheap bike brand (free spirit) progressed to shiny alloy and better parts upping his brand a bit and he would tailor bikes if you asked him to.

I employed him to help do doorwork at night in my bowling alley to give him some money for himself as he was endless skint and never got out, three years he was with me doing 2-3 nights a week which gave him a social life and apparently a few extra customers as he befriended the regulars and league bowlers.

for a 20 stone 6 foot 4 bloke He managed to get himself into mountain biking with local riders which slowly built his local profile up as he learnt to build wheels and do more technical work for them. He managed to get a larger local shop he could buy outright and get some dealer deals going so he could move into more technical bikes and even a few badged with his shop name on.

he also got lucky with a few of his mechanics who taught him a lot and his dad was an ex copper so he had a good trade from the HQ up the road along with the Barracks, uni and local schools. he got into fads early and does electric bikes too. it helps that york is a cycling city. I see he has an ebay shop as well.

not sure he would do it again but he didn't regret it last time I spoke to him.

Many bike shops now sell as much on ebay as they do in the shop, which is not much different to the 80's and 90's with the ads in cycling weekly for shoes and compnents so unless you have a shop assistant doing sales in the quiet periods you will spend a lot of evenings listing and packing. Richard is next to the post office though so that part is easier for him to deal with.

Brucey
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Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: ...how easy or difficult it is to make money in the cycle trade?

Postby Brucey » 16 Aug 2018, 4:38pm

most of the LBSs I know of are hoping to survive by offering good quality/speedy repairs, good customer service, and niche products of various kinds, sometimes wholesaling them. They are selling fewer complete bikes and fewer basic accessories; most of the parts they sell are as part of a repair of some kind.

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

markjohnobrien
Posts: 263
Joined: 4 Oct 2007, 8:15pm

Re: ...how easy or difficult it is to make money in the cycle trade?

Postby markjohnobrien » 17 Aug 2018, 9:43pm

crazydave789 wrote:I helped a friend set up a shop in the 90s. he was paint sprayer for a car rental company with no real experience or indeed a cyclist. he was a bit younger than me but still around 27 or so when he started things going just over 20 years ago.

competition was harsh in york with several large established shops and smaller clique units for the burgeoning mtb scene, he started off selling cheap bikes from a wholesaler and doing repairs which paid the rent and filled the shop up with crappy old bikes. bread and butter stuff. his cheap bike brand (free spirit) progressed to shiny alloy and better parts upping his brand a bit and he would tailor bikes if you asked him to.

I employed him to help do doorwork at night in my bowling alley to give him some money for himself as he was endless skint and never got out, three years he was with me doing 2-3 nights a week which gave him a social life and apparently a few extra customers as he befriended the regulars and league bowlers.

for a 20 stone 6 foot 4 bloke He managed to get himself into mountain biking with local riders which slowly built his local profile up as he learnt to build wheels and do more technical work for them. He managed to get a larger local shop he could buy outright and get some dealer deals going so he could move into more technical bikes and even a few badged with his shop name on.

he also got lucky with a few of his mechanics who taught him a lot and his dad was an ex copper so he had a good trade from the HQ up the road along with the Barracks, uni and local schools. he got into fads early and does electric bikes too. it helps that york is a cycling city. I see he has an ebay shop as well.

not sure he would do it again but he didn't regret it last time I spoke to him.

Many bike shops now sell as much on ebay as they do in the shop, which is not much different to the 80's and 90's with the ads in cycling weekly for shoes and compnents so unless you have a shop assistant doing sales in the quiet periods you will spend a lot of evenings listing and packing. Richard is next to the post office though so that part is easier for him to deal with.


I'd love to know which shop/business this is as I used to live in York, know the city well, and still visit twice a year.

random37
Posts: 1952
Joined: 19 Sep 2008, 4:41pm

Re: ...how easy or difficult it is to make money in the cycle trade?

Postby random37 » 17 Aug 2018, 9:57pm

I've owned a retail business. Not a bike shop.

Retail isn't what it used to be. However, there is always space for someone who can do something online shopping can't do. And being part of the scene your shop is in. Then, keeping your costs down, and having the correct stock, with a range of suppliers. The challenge is building up enough stock from each wholesaler, and getting a decent price.

After that, it is managing cashflow, managing people, and a massive shot of luck.

Business is, ultimately, people selling to people.

Saying that, I would not recommend it as a way to make a living. You can do well, but it takes over your life. I didn't get a single day off when my shop was open. I was making OK money for me, but employing other people wipes you out!

If you were happy living with a fairly sporadic business, perhaps you could do OK as a mobile bike mechanic. Or do fittings?

crazydave789
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Joined: 22 Jul 2017, 10:21pm

Re: ...how easy or difficult it is to make money in the cycle trade?

Postby crazydave789 » 17 Aug 2018, 10:37pm

markjohnobrien wrote:
crazydave789 wrote:I helped a friend set up a shop in the 90s. he was paint sprayer for a car rental company with no real experience or indeed a cyclist. he was a bit younger than me but still around 27 or so when he started things going just over 20 years ago.

competition was harsh in york with several large established shops and smaller clique units for the burgeoning mtb scene, he started off selling cheap bikes from a wholesaler and doing repairs which paid the rent and filled the shop up with crappy old bikes. bread and butter stuff. his cheap bike brand (free spirit) progressed to shiny alloy and better parts upping his brand a bit and he would tailor bikes if you asked him to.

I employed him to help do doorwork at night in my bowling alley to give him some money for himself as he was endless skint and never got out, three years he was with me doing 2-3 nights a week which gave him a social life and apparently a few extra customers as he befriended the regulars and league bowlers.

for a 20 stone 6 foot 4 bloke He managed to get himself into mountain biking with local riders which slowly built his local profile up as he learnt to build wheels and do more technical work for them. He managed to get a larger local shop he could buy outright and get some dealer deals going so he could move into more technical bikes and even a few badged with his shop name on.

he also got lucky with a few of his mechanics who taught him a lot and his dad was an ex copper so he had a good trade from the HQ up the road along with the Barracks, uni and local schools. he got into fads early and does electric bikes too. it helps that york is a cycling city. I see he has an ebay shop as well.

not sure he would do it again but he didn't regret it last time I spoke to him.

Many bike shops now sell as much on ebay as they do in the shop, which is not much different to the 80's and 90's with the ads in cycling weekly for shoes and compnents so unless you have a shop assistant doing sales in the quiet periods you will spend a lot of evenings listing and packing. Richard is next to the post office though so that part is easier for him to deal with.


I'd love to know which shop/business this is as I used to live in York, know the city well, and still visit twice a year.


Richard at Fulford cycles. started in Brittons Dairy shop before he took over Terrys bakery next to the post office. when he moved in it still had the pizza type ovens which was a running joke.

As a kid I used to talk to charlie bean a lot who used to run fentons cycles down haxby road yorks only frame builder. or there was Boswells in tang hall for the roadies.

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kuriisenbo
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Re: ...how easy or difficult it is to make money in the cycle trade?

Postby kuriisenbo » 28 Jul 2020, 8:11pm

There are many ways to make money nowadays, especially on the Internet. The Internet is becoming a huge opportunity to make money online.
:mrgreen:

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simonineaston
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Location: Live & work in Briz'l

Re: ...how easy or difficult it is to make money in the cycle trade?

Postby simonineaston » 28 Jul 2020, 8:19pm

I have nothing to contribute to this thread other than to wonder if my fave LBS, back in Oxford is OK - the guys who run it are both local, family chaps and their sole source of income is the shop, as far as I know... although their respective spouses may work, I don't know - decent, ordinary (I hope they won't mind me saying) people, the sort of folk who are often described as the salt of the earth (whatever that means!). I hope they coped and can continue to do so.
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)

markjohnobrien
Posts: 263
Joined: 4 Oct 2007, 8:15pm

Re: ...how easy or difficult it is to make money in the cycle trade?

Postby markjohnobrien » 28 Jul 2020, 8:32pm

crazydave789 wrote:
markjohnobrien wrote:
crazydave789 wrote:I helped a friend set up a shop in the 90s. he was paint sprayer for a car rental company with no real experience or indeed a cyclist. he was a bit younger than me but still around 27 or so when he started things going just over 20 years ago.

competition was harsh in york with several large established shops and smaller clique units for the burgeoning mtb scene, he started off selling cheap bikes from a wholesaler and doing repairs which paid the rent and filled the shop up with crappy old bikes. bread and butter stuff. his cheap bike brand (free spirit) progressed to shiny alloy and better parts upping his brand a bit and he would tailor bikes if you asked him to.

I employed him to help do doorwork at night in my bowling alley to give him some money for himself as he was endless skint and never got out, three years he was with me doing 2-3 nights a week which gave him a social life and apparently a few extra customers as he befriended the regulars and league bowlers.

for a 20 stone 6 foot 4 bloke He managed to get himself into mountain biking with local riders which slowly built his local profile up as he learnt to build wheels and do more technical work for them. He managed to get a larger local shop he could buy outright and get some dealer deals going so he could move into more technical bikes and even a few badged with his shop name on.

he also got lucky with a few of his mechanics who taught him a lot and his dad was an ex copper so he had a good trade from the HQ up the road along with the Barracks, uni and local schools. he got into fads early and does electric bikes too. it helps that york is a cycling city. I see he has an ebay shop as well.

not sure he would do it again but he didn't regret it last time I spoke to him.

Many bike shops now sell as much on ebay as they do in the shop, which is not much different to the 80's and 90's with the ads in cycling weekly for shoes and compnents so unless you have a shop assistant doing sales in the quiet periods you will spend a lot of evenings listing and packing. Richard is next to the post office though so that part is easier for him to deal with.


I'd love to know which shop/business this is as I used to live in York, know the city well, and still visit twice a year.


Richard at Fulford cycles. started in Brittons Dairy shop before he took over Terrys bakery next to the post office. when he moved in it still had the pizza type ovens which was a running joke.

As a kid I used to talk to charlie bean a lot who used to run fentons cycles down haxby road yorks only frame builder. or there was Boswells in tang hall for the roadies.


Thanks. Cycled past his shop hundreds of times but never used it. I used Boswells a few times when I
lived in York in the 90’s.

whoof
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Joined: 29 Apr 2014, 2:13pm

Re: ...how easy or difficult it is to make money in the cycle trade?

Postby whoof » 28 Jul 2020, 9:16pm

If you consider cars. Dealerships sell new cars, places like Halfords sell spares for the home mechanics and what we call garages are more accurately described as auto repair shops in the USA.
This may be the way cycle shops go.
Large flash dealerships like the Specialized concept stores selling bikes. The internet supplying home mechanics and back street bike repair shops.

PT1029
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Joined: 16 Apr 2012, 9:20pm

Re: ...how easy or difficult it is to make money in the cycle trade?

Postby PT1029 » 29 Jul 2020, 8:43am

Simonineaston, which was you favourite shop in Oxford?, its probably still there as none have shut for a few years now.

Cheers.