#TOTW New bike shop advice
Lots of negativity on here, you could easily replace bike shop with teaching, office work, council staff – send done people exude negativity about their job regardless of what it is with similar gripesPosted 6 months ago
A lot of people simply think that the grass is greener and they know better, if the op wants to do it, fair play to him. He’s an adult that is aware that hard work is in front of him. Good luck OP
I love my job, granted I don’t earn loads but quality of life, time with family, different stresses top trumps teaching, but each to their own.
OP Carpe DiemPosted 6 months ago
I currently work 60 hours a week in a pretty thankless job where most customers do not trust anything you say, and on top of this I have almost a 1 hour commute to and from work.
I think I agree with the previous couple of posters, it’s easy to make the bike shop career sound terrible, but then I hate my current career also so if I weren’t dependent on the current salary, maybe I’d also consider the bike shop life, at least I could be miserable talking about things I loved and (sort of) actually knowing what I was doing 😁
Plus when I left Uni I spent 5 years working in Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative. I was never quite engaged or senior enough to understand quite how their business model worked, but we didn’t sell any BSOs and I think our workshop pricing and waiting list was enough to put off a significant proportion of the BSO owners who came in (my memory is pretty hazy now but whilst we dealt with a lot of older bikes, they weren’t typically BSOs).
We also ran classes which I got to teach which was a surprisingly positive/engaging part of the job, although not without its hiccups (one of the last wheelbuilding classes I taught involved every single one of the 6 ‘students’ bringing in their own components, none of which were even remotely standard and some of which required spoke sizes calculated and provided by us. We stopped doing the ‘bring your own’ part after that and taught everyone on 32 spoke Deore hubs and Mavic rims 😎).
Their workshop now seems to resemble something from the matrix, all laptops for eBike servicing and D12 firmware updates etc 🙄Posted 6 months ago
On the flip side to most people.
At least one of my two local bike shops are doing really well.
They are in a great location (Fort William) with a great mix of local club trade and tourists heading for Nevis Range/touring etc.
Their workshop is booked up 3-4 weeks in advance. Their prices are high.
Stock is good. They do running and swimming gear too.
They are all over e bikes like you wouldn’t believe.
They ‘organise’ some wild swims and do a few guided rides/e bike trials etc.
So – it can be done. Location is absolutely key as is good local and passing trade.
Good luck if you got for it.Posted 6 months ago
Loving this thread and all contributions. There was a similar one about cafes a while ago, equally interesting, same theme.
I don’t know if it’s a post covid thing but everyone I know in a similar field to me, property, has sacked it off and retired. Ok they could, but they were hardly working hard before.
A cycle mechanic I know of used to be home based, now got a small workshop just doing repairs. Booked up but apparently he s really good.Posted 6 months ago
“At the moment bikes aren’t discounted due to lack of stock but once that’s fixed the big boys will be selling bikes on line cheaper than you can buy them at trade.” yeap I give it end of next year bikes be discounted again as over stocked and sells are down as most don’t need new bike as theirs not that old, + 2nd hand market be full of hardly used bikes.
Anyway back on topic fo OP, agree a lot that been written already.
but a couple of things, If you do go down the “work in a bike shop, learn get contacts etc” and then leave to set up down the road/next village I think it pretty low thing to do, more so if the shop a small/one or two people own it.
Which brings me to, (as I think you might be looking at it wrong way) find a local small/one person owned bike shop that been around for a while, hopefully they busy, prob 2 busy for one person to keep on top things (orders/account/social media/website/sorting deals or offers/sorting bike rides etc)Posted 6 months ago
Chat to them see if they want to sell or like a biz partner, split the work load and say if you been money into the shop, say money for stocking ebikes and other ways to bring more customers in (shop rides etc) as they might not had the money or taken the leap/risk so to speak.
Yeah be a lot of small details to sort out etc, but be less of a risk/cost to you, you get a invested interest in the shop, you got someone to learn from etc, they get extra help, investment in the shop, and if they do want to sell at a latter date, you should 1st in line if you like to buy it.
To those saying lots of negativity here and other carriers can be crap too, the warnings being given are about attempting to set up and run your own business. It’s not like taking a job and deciding you don’t like it, it’s about making a major financial commitment. The comments being made by those who have experience in the business sound sensible to me.
About the repair shop idea, there is a chap close to me who does just that and offers complete strip down and rebuild servicing. He’s not cheap but if social media is to be believed he’s doing very well. Most of his business appears to be high end bikes (this is Cheshire so lots of folk with a fair bit of disposable) but he sorts out peoples BSOs too.
Anyway, 50 miles North of Swansea. It’s not Llanddewi Brefi is it?Posted 6 months ago
Not far off, just a handful of miles south.Posted 6 months ago
I recently did a $500+ repair on an old Fisher CR7 which I bet most mechanics now would think is a POS, but it’s a rad old bike and the customer had owned it since new and wanted it running really well.
I’ve just spent £100 getting the Hybrid of Doom repaired after a significant mechanical (rear mech threw itself through the back wheel, bending the integral mech hanger in the process) but a) sentimental value and b) there are no new bikes out there. It’s an about 30yo Raleigh Pioneer.
On the other hand, I’ve been there when bike shops have quoted an arm and a leg to repair a BSO puncture on the basis that the time and effort to do that, then straighten the wheel etc etc is more than the job is worth.Posted 6 months ago
To those saying lots of negativity here and other carriers can be crap too, the warnings being given are about attempting to set up and run your own business. It’s not like taking a job and deciding you don’t like it, it’s about making a major financial commitment.
This times a thousand. OP, your job sounds grim. I’ve been there too and it broke me. But making a significant financial commitment to do something you have no experience of has red flags all over it. It’s like me saying “I’m good at DIY, I built a shed and laid a patio so I’ll set up a building company”.
If you were saying “should I leave my job to work in a bike shop” then absolutely, go for it.
But experienced, knowledgeable and well connected bike shop owners are going bankrupt at the moment. Shops which have been around for decades are closing and industry predictions for next year are not optimistic. We are looking at short supply of new bikes and parts along with a glut of 2nd hand bikes on the market.
If you must, please don’t invest more than you can afford to lose and do everything you can to get some industry experience first.
And genuinely good luck.Posted 6 months ago
Llanbedr Pont Steffan?
Tregaron?Posted 6 months ago
Lots of negativity on here, you could easily replace bike shop with teaching, office work, council staff
Changing jobs is a different matter to setting up your own business. If a new job turns out badly, it’s usually not too difficult to find another job. Starting a business requires pouring money into it to get it running. If things go badly, everything you’ve put into it is gone. A huge proportion of new businesses fail within the first year.Posted 6 months ago
Im aware yes, I’ve dude exactly thatPosted 6 months ago
The most sucessfull new LBS by far around here is Velolife in Henley.
Can’t help but think that’s down to the fact they sell very little bike stuff which their customers probably buy online anyway, and mostly sell coffee and cake which they can’t.Posted 6 months ago
Lots of negativity on here, you could easily replace bike shop with teaching, office work, council staff
No you couldn’t. Working in an office (turn up, get paid a known and constant amount, put £0 of your own money in, work the contracted hours, go home) is absolutely NOTHING like starting up and running your own business.
You can’t even really compare it to running other types of shops either assuming you have repair services as a major part of your business income.
The positive is clearly that if you really enjoy it and do well it is down to you and you reap the rewards (not just financial) which can’t be said for an office job.Posted 6 months ago
MrsRNP opened a woman’s clothing shop (bear with me) ~8years ago in a village with other similar shops. What made us different and successful were;
1. The shop was more of a woman’s social hangout with the coffee machine always on and a play area for kids.
2. We were mobile (had a large van) so did fashion shows/fundraiser’s for schools/churches etc. Hard work setting everything up but made good money and then fed into the shop.
3. Traded at VW camper festivals and flower shows – demographics with disposable income. We had a massive gazebo and had it decked out well inside.
4. Had unique lines – we set up distribution deals with jewellers and leather goods in France and Spain that didn’t have presence in the UK market. We drove round for 3weeks every winter when the shop was quiet living in our van searching stuff out.
It helped that I was the main bread winner and we didn’t have children so could quite comfortably take a gamble. It was hard work and dragged me into lots of it.
So in summary you can do well with a business but you need to think differently to everyone else and in the age of online shopping you can’t sit in a shop expecting people to come to you, you need you to go out there and feed people back into the shop where you offer personalised/unique service.
Ultimately though we realised it was hard and long hours and sold up putting our money into renovating/flipping commercial property which had far better returns.Posted 6 months ago
Have you considered opening a bookshop?Posted 6 months ago
There is a popular saying in the industry which goes something like this: “If you want to make a small fortune in the cycle trade, start with a large one.”Posted 6 months ago
Some people have tried a mobile cycle repair business.
Posted 6 months ago
@DallasWiseman I have messaged you directly…
I have a wealth of knowledge I can impart, but to be honest, a lot of it you won’t want to hear I’m afraid!Posted 6 months ago
A different take:Posted 6 months ago
Lots of negativity on here, you could easily replace bike shop with teaching, office work, council staff – send done people exude negativity about their job regardless of what it is with similar gripes
I love working in a bike shop and have had some great times! Doesn’t change the fact that now would be a bad time to start a new bike shop without some serious friends in the industry and a lot of money!Posted 6 months ago
I think the key is demand.
IS there demand in the local area for a bike shop?
Mid-Wales is a relatively sparsely populated and poorer part of the UK.
Is there likely to be enough custom to keep you in a salary, cover bills etc?
Do a couple of surveys of shoppers in the target area on a Saturday afternoon.
Watch how much people spend, research average wages in the area.
That will help define how much potential customers have to spend on leisure.
A lot of trail centre bike shops rely on money ‘coming in’ from the outside area. This is another angle to look at.Posted 6 months ago
I would definitely grab any grants you can, start small, grow organically and do some objective market research first.
I had about 3 years working as a cycle mechanic on and off, and I loved it, but the things the general public try and pull on you is unreal. How confident and steadfast can you be? I had people ( not customers, cos they buy things) come in demanding a refund on bikes theyd just pulled out of the sea, literally found it on a beach and demanding money back. Proved they were lying by taking the bottom bracket out in front of them and showing them the bracket tube rammed solid with sand.Posted 6 months ago
Also had people come in claiming previous managers had promised them a bike for charity rides, that kind of thing. The brass neck on these **** is unbelievable.
Also, christmas was mental, I think one year we as a shop built something like 700 + bikes between October and Christmas Eve. It was a quiet day if I wasnt building and PDI ‘ ing less than 30 bikes a day, this included climbing over the racks to get at them, disposing of cardboard, etc. One very popular kids model had a manufacturing fault whereby they had forgotten to thread the fixing bosses for the rear doll carrier, so they all had to be done by hand. That kind of thing takes extra time you dont have. And this was all for minimum wage. I once saw the workshop manager put in a 30+ hour shift in order to get them all built in time. If you take into account how much he got paid , he was working for less than minimum wage, which was about £6 iirc at the time.
Basically, yes, playing with bikes all day is fun, one of the best jobs i had ,but its definitely not worth the hassle or the pay. Stick to spannering for you and your mates.
PS both of the shops I worked in were in Wales.
Having owned a shop for 6 years, not bikes, traditional sweet shop, the best advice I can give you is know when to get out and be prepared to take any other job to get by with.
Do not let the shop get into debt, know when to walk and realise that although you have put your heart and soul into it, eating and paying bills is more important.
Do not get me wrong, having your own business in many ways is better than being someones employee, just gone back to being self employed myself, BUT, and these are big buts, you will be working far more than the 60 hrs a week you are now, expect to work every day, either being open or arranging stock, doing books etc. We were lucky that we could run between my wife and I, but when you start looking into staff and employment laws it makes it far more complex.
Honestly ? Give it another year or two, change jobs if your current is crappy but do not leap into this with the current situation unless you have considerable funds behind you to live off for a few years.
I really do wish you the best of luck, and hope you can get it to work but really think about putting plans off for a year or so and see if situation improves first.Posted 6 months ago
I’ve never worked in a bike shop or run one, but I do know that something like 60% of startups fail and when asked the CEOs (or owners) of those start-ups never expect it to be them.*
*I’m sure the real stats are out there, but this is something like the actual figure.Posted 6 months ago
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