Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 48 total)
  • Has anyone ever taken the plunge and started their own bike shop..or bought one?
  • Premier Icon smogmonster
    Full Member

    Im sure plenty of us on here have dreamed of owning our own bike shop…so has anyone actually done it? The only reason i ask is that it looks like im going to be made redundant in the near future (oil worker), and frankly, the odds on actually getting another job in the same field look zilch. I could return to the NHS, but the thought horrifies me….and ive noticed a couple of local bike shops are up for sale at the moment. This has been a pipe dream of mine for the past 20 years, but ive never had the balls to try it. I imagine its long hours, and frankly not much riding ever happens again, but im reasonably handy with a spanner. So who has done it? What were your experiences? Were you able to make a decent living? The wife has a good job so i wont be supporting us alone. I can see some areas for expansion…neither shop has much of an online presence, with websites looking like they were designed in the early 90s by a YTS kid. And neither has much to do with the local MTB clubs in particular, and we have a big mtb honeypot close by. So i can see some areas where things can happen but its a major league scary step….over to your good selves.

    Premier Icon bencooper
    Free Member

    Well, I did, obviously. Lots of shops are finding it really hard at the moment, if you have a good niche then it can work well, but I think the general LBS is on borrowed time.

    Buying an existing business only really makes sense if it gets you lots of good stock and tools cheap, or the goodwill is worth it. Otherwise you’re just buying lots of someone else’s bad decisions. Goodwill can go negative as well as positive, of course.

    Premier Icon zinaru
    Free Member

    the short answer is go for it.

    the longer answer is have a long hard think, a proper dig about, draw up a business plan, do sums, talk to others and if you’ve not terrified or bored yourself, go for it.

    Premier Icon dirtydog
    Free Member

    I’d be inclined to start mobile and build up your business before committing to premises.

    Premier Icon jimmy
    Full Member

    A pal did recently. He’s no longer open, lost the investment.

    As above, I’d go for a niche and have your website looking smart from the start. Ronde in Edinburgh might be a good example – people thought they were mad when opening but they’re still going with their high end roadie approach. Think they had considerable investment though.

    Premier Icon dirtydog
    Free Member

    One of your biggest issues will be getting dealer(b2b) accounts, the likes of Maddison, Hope etc aren’t interested unless your a bricks and mortar shop.

    Premier Icon mattsccm
    Free Member

    What’s the old saying? Want to make a million with a bike shop? Start with two.
    However its not all bad if you have the right market. My local LBS has been going about 5 years and is now moving and expanding with some significant changes.
    That’s despite another, lower end, shop in the same town, two hire places selling bikes and gear within 5 miles, another shop 7 miles way and being surrounded by shops within 25 miles. I suspect catering for all the MTBing around plus getting on the right side with the roadies and being involved with TT’s has helped.

    Premier Icon STATO
    Free Member

    I suspect catering for all the MTBing around plus getting on the right side with the roadies and being involved with TT’s has helped.

    Promote promote promote! You have to get your name out there and keep it out. New local shop to me started small, got its name out, moved to bigger premises as soon as it looked viable, pushed hard to make that work by maintaining quality but adding new brands and hiring quality staff, now opening their second store. All the time they have been active with local clubs, advertising deals (actual ones not just 5%RRP), open nights, etc. I looks like a lot of hard work but they busy and rightly shaming some of the other local shops who have been around ages and moan about lack of trade.

    Premier Icon Sancho
    Free Member

    I would say do it
    Live your dream and make a difference.
    i did, i look back at th4e last 15 years and i am so proud of what i have done for cycling in Leeds.

    But be careful, the industry is changing.
    It’s ultra competitive with online, the big uk players and all the none mand bands, the industry model sucks at the moment so try doing something with your own brand.
    i am closing my shop of 15 years but have my own brand just starting to get going with it. I want control over the products I sell, if you want to get involved give me a shout.

    Premier Icon MoreCashThanDash
    Full Member

    You may only get one chance, so look into it carefully and if you go for it, be prepared to lose everything.

    An LBS near me doesn’t sell bikes, just does repairs, consumables, tyres, tools and lights. He also is very busy with bikeability and does maintenance courses. Iirc, he started in his garage and then got premises. Has a good local reputation now, but will never drive a Rolls Royce.

    Premier Icon Sancho
    Free Member

    what he said /\

    Premier Icon Waderider
    Free Member

    Get a job in a shop first.

    Premier Icon ampthill
    Full Member

    An LBS near me doesn’t sell bikes, just does repairs, consumables, tyres, tools and lights. He also is very busy with bikeability and does maintenance courses. Iirc, he started in his garage and then got premises. Has a good local reputation now, but will never drive a Rolls Royce.

    based on no experience of the industry

    I do wonder if the way forward is bike maintenance and support and leave the retail to the online people. Sort of like a local garage.

    Carry a basic stock of spares so that you can fix a proportion of the bikes that come in broken. Everything else let the customer buy the bits and you do the work

    For example

    Fork up grade

    Fit new fork supplied by customer £30

    New fork fitting and advice £50

    The extra £20 buys them a chat with you on what they need. Stand by them while they order it. “Your bike is 1″ 1/8″ so those won’t fit etc.”

    New Fork fitting advice and responsibility for delivery £70

    Same as above but you order the fork and they pay up front. You’ll take delivery and sort out issues if the wrong one is sent etc.

    Premier Icon dave661350
    Free Member

    I’m with Ampthill. Start small, build up a good customer base and allow the customer to bring their own purchases for you to fit or offer to purchase (with a small surcharge) and fit..You’d soon know which of the main online sellers have specific deals on and within a few months (space permitting) could get a little stock built up when it is on a particularly good offer with CRC/Merlin/Wiggle etc
    Perhaps try and get in with any local events and turn up on the day well before start time to do tune ups etc…and take a stock of spares

    Premier Icon nwill1
    Free Member

    Can’t provide any specifics but where I’m located there are a 3 really good local bike shops within about a 3 mile radius.

    One been trading many years, sells high end Mountain & Road bikes.

    One fairly new (circa 5 years) specialise in high end mountain bikes.

    One was a very long standing bike shop that had stood still from the 80’s to the 00’s but was brought out a few years ago and has been brought bang up to date selling some great brands an all the las test kit, now one of my favs.

    They all ‘appear’ to be doing well, same as any business if you get it right there is a market. But that’s the tough bit I suppose do you feel your business plan would hold up?

    Premier Icon esselgruntfuttock
    Free Member

    Own bike shop or work in a prison….own bike shop or work in a prison…Hmmm..thats a hard one.
    Not.

    Premier Icon kilo
    Full Member

    An LBS near me doesn’t sell bikes, just does repairs, consumables, tyres, tools and lights. He also is very busy with bikeability and does maintenance courses. Iirc, he started in his garage and then got premises. Has a good local reputation now, but will never drive a Rolls Royce.

    There’s one near me that probably dosen’t sell many bikes at all, again lots of repairs, been a bike shop there for about 104 years, I think the current guy working there has been employed in the shop for over 50 years so it’s a sustainable model even in London

    Premier Icon TheBrick
    Free Member

    I think the model works best in London tbh as there are so many commuters, many on good money who rely on their bike to get to work so want it fixed but not interested in doing it them self.

    Premier Icon dovebiker
    Full Member

    Best investment = work in the trade and get someone to pay you whilst you learn their business. Might not be huge money, but you’ll probably save more than you lose by things that don’t work out on the way.

    Premier Icon arnieb
    Free Member

    Brave man!!

    I wish you all the best. I’ve never owned a shop so please feel free to completely ignore my advice.

    1) I would start mainly in servicing and spares rather than new sales.
    2) Don’t worry too much about exact location/premises as I think most interested people will be willing to seek out a good shop.
    3) Start small and cheap and then you won’t lose too much money!
    4) Get to know the main cycle clubs, groups and maybe advertise that you’ll be turning up early for events to offer pre event servicing.
    5) If it works offer to start events/meets at your shop so that everyone has a central place to start.
    5) Decent on line presence is going to be vital.
    6) I think over time you’ll get to know a few hundred keen cyclists (MTB or roadie or both) and you’ll be able to spot what they ride and what they need. So if the MTBs are all downhill nuts you’ll have a different range to if they are all XC whippets. Then stock a small number of appropriate bikes that are difficult to get hold of.

    I think at the moment the mass chains (halford etc), on line shops and discount shops have the main market pretty much sewn up for new bikes.

    2 things i’ve learnt though is that if you are passionate about bikes then people will gravitate to you and your shops – bike people love to talk about bikes! Secondly bike people love spending money on bikes!

    Premier Icon arnieb
    Free Member

    Brave man!!

    I wish you all the best. I’ve never owned a shop so please feel free to completely ignore my advice.

    1) I would start mainly in servicing and spares rather than new sales.
    2) Don’t worry too much about exact location/premises as I think most interested people will be willing to seek out a good shop.
    3) Start small and cheap and then you won’t lose too much money!
    4) Get to know the main cycle clubs, groups and maybe advertise that you’ll be turning up early for events to offer pre event servicing.
    5) If it works offer to start events/meets at your shop so that everyone has a central place to start.
    5) Decent on line presence is going to be vital.
    6) I think over time you’ll get to know a few hundred keen cyclists (MTB or roadie or both) and you’ll be able to spot what they ride and what they need. So if the MTBs are all downhill nuts you’ll have a different range to if they are all XC whippets. Then stock a small number of appropriate bikes that are difficult to get hold of.

    I think at the moment the mass chains (halford etc), on line shops and discount shops have the main market pretty much sewn up for new bikes.

    2 things i’ve learnt though is that if you are passionate about bikes then people will gravitate to you and your shops – bike people love to talk about bikes! Secondly bike people love spending money on bikes!

    Premier Icon project
    Free Member

    If you buy an existing shop will the same suppliers supply you with yiu having little experience of running or owning a shop, and will the bike brands support you, having decent bike brands is a positive, tea and coffee machine, soft drinks fridge a few seats etc make the place look homely.

    Premier Icon dirtydog
    Free Member

    If it’s just repairs then there’s no need to go to the expense of a website, you can generate plenty of custom through Facebook (create a business page), it’s also a good way of keeping in touch with local groups.

    Premier Icon leffeboy
    Full Member

    I probably agree with the website thing. Most are a waste of time as they just contain lists of links to suppliers. The best thing I saw recently was someone that had let google street view inside their shop. It persuaded me to drive miles out of my way when looking for a bike for my daughter as it was clear it was a great shop and had stuff

    Premier Icon dirtydog
    Free Member

    @leffeboy That’ll be Google My Business, another excellent free resource!

    https://www.google.com/business/

    Premier Icon simmy
    Free Member

    I agree that starting small doing repairs etc may be a good business model.

    The guy I use when I can’t be bothered repairing or I have cocked something up works out of a shop no bigger than a standard garage that you have on your house.

    Full service £50 and he is willing to fit any parts you supply for a reasonable charge. He has that many bikes in for repair, the neighbours think he sells them not just repairs them as they are all locked up outside.

    Premier Icon Rorschach
    Free Member

    nwill

    One was a very long standing bike shop that had stood still from the 80’s to the 00’s but was brought out a few years ago and has been brought bang up to date selling some great brands an all the las test kit, now one of my favs

    If you live where I think you do….that shop went broke just before Christmas and was only saved by direct investment from a supplier.
    The other 2 are owned by the same person and share accounts etc.
    Short answer…..Don’t.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Free Member

    If you pick up an existing shop and drop the bike sales you might struggle to get them back in future. Some people will only sell to 1 shop in an area so they could easily get picked up by somebody else.

    Repairs only sounds great but the stock levels are huge for some stuff, especially if you are turning it over
    9/10/11sp SRAM/Shimano SLX-XTR X9-XX plus all the tools etc.

    First step might be to talk to the guys leaving and have an honest chat about the area.
    Seen a couple of take overs, last one people can get a bit upset if they don’t get the same discount/love that they used to, you kind of need that transition/handover to happen smoothly so you know who all the good customers are and just as importantly who the tyre kickers are.

    Premier Icon Andyhilton
    Free Member

    I have. Nearly 2 years ago. It’s **** hard work but overall I think it’s worth it. Be prepared to ride your bike a LOT less! If you want a chat drop me a line on andy@wearebikehaus.co.uk

    Premier Icon spev
    Full Member

    I’ve done it, we mostly do repairs and keep very little stock, sell some used bikes on a commission basis (like a local ebay )and do the odd custom build now and then. The majority of repair work tends to be budget restricted commuters with the odd high end bike coming in here and there. We fit stuff bought online and we will price match if we can ( we usually can in fairness but most people assume online is cheaper so we don’t stress over it).
    We ride and surf as often as we can so it’s doesn’t have to be the nose to the grindstone fun sink some people think it is. It’s not easy either but it has its own rewards (and money really isn’t one of them ).

    Premier Icon siwhite
    Full Member

    Also based on zero industry experience – buy a good coffee machine, sell cheap but nice cakes and have a secure storage area for customer’s bikes when they cycle to your premises for a brew / cake / browse / chat. Get your name out with local clubs / FB groups etc and perhaps organise a weekly ride starting from the shop.

    Premier Icon nwill1
    Free Member

    Rorschach…pretty sure it’s not where your thinking, the only certainty is that all three are independently owned and most defiantly NOT owned by the same person.

    Premier Icon FunkyDunc
    Free Member

    Some bike shops in my local area (Leeds) appear to be doing rather well at the moment. 2 have opened additional stores and 1 has moved to bigger premises.

    Another has opened doing nothing but repairs and as I understand he is very busy.

    So obviously their is money to be made if you do it right.

    Premier Icon stumpyjumper
    Free Member

    I’m one of those that took the plunge a and opened up up on my own 4 years ago. I started very small working from home working one mobile service and repair basis only. Fast forward to now and I’m established, regarded and have a good clients base who trust me and recommend me. I have a unit in a mills which is way lower rent than a shop. This winter has been the worst I can remember for the bike trade since I can remember ( Iv worked in then trade In one way or another for 20 years ) a combination of another “once in a hundred years” weather system, saturation of the market. Especially where I live with a profileration of bike shops opening up inn he last couple of years and the way the markets changing now.

    I keep going solely because I’m small, I have my own thankfully loyal customers and when I set out I didn’t want to stock lots off bikes.

    Sancho, il be in touch. andy

    Premier Icon Trimix
    Full Member

    Don’t do it.

    Don’t take advice from people with no experience.
    The internet has changed everything.
    The High-street is dead.
    Don’t mix your hobby with your job.
    Suppliers will be restrictive and expect a fat margin.
    Customers will expect everything for nothing.
    Just when the weather is great and your mates are out biking, you are working.

    I almost bought a bike shop, years ago before the Internet. The owner was taking home about a quarter of the average wage at the time.

    I also owned a big motorcycle shop just as the internet started to take off, sold it on. Some of it was fun, but the return on your time/passion/money is not worth it.

    Could you not work in the industry rather than try to open a shop ?

    Premier Icon FuzzyWuzzy
    Full Member

    Unless you can think of a good niche I wouldn’t bother (and I don’t think just being a decent mechanic is enough). I think the only thing I’d consider doing is a decent cafe combined with a workshop and consumables (tyres, tubes, oil etc.) but that would need a big initial investment.

    Premier Icon bencooper
    Free Member

    http://uk.businessesforsale.com/uk/free-bike-shop-in-south-wales-for-sale.aspx

    😀

    That Randy Kirk book is very, very American. He recommends greeting each customer with a handshake while looking deeply into their eyes – using your other hand to grasp their elbow so they can’t pull away too quickly.

    Premier Icon TomB
    Full Member

    Given your circumstances, I guess you’re a paramedic or nurse? If I was you, and big bucks isn’t a priority, I’d be doing bank contract work back in the NHS, picking and choosing the shifts that suit you, save your money, ride your bike a lot, see your family more, whatever. Plenty of work in all areas atm. Owning a shop of any kind would seem to be very difficult financially, especially coming at it without experience or contacts.

    Premier Icon LoCo
    Free Member

    From Ben’s ad link

    If I’m honest you would be mad to get into the bike trade at the moment, but you are reading this ad so you must be keen. It’s really tough, the online competition is fierce and trying to actually retail with a profit in the current market is almost impossible. The saving grace is the workshop, run this well and it’s possible to make a fairly good living out of the shop. You will need to be a good mechanic, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of what is compatible with what. You’ll also need to be willing to get out and ride with the local clubs and riders. When it stops raining this is a pleasure, there are some great trails, roads and people to ride with. This is however not compatible with being happily married and being a good dad. It’s also not great if you’re not really thick skinned, and I’m not, I’ll admit it, I take things to heart far too much.

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 48 total)

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