Has anyone here followed their dream

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Lowe Beau

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Given the collaborations that have been going on between American and non-American companies “Made in the U.S.A.” is more of a slogan than anything. For example I’ve an ‘82 Schwinn Traveler with a Chicago badge…..that was made in Taiwan (Republic of China) by Giant. Either way it’s one of my favorite sportifs. I wouldn’t care if it was made in Pluto.
 

Endlesschain

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Hehe. The last thing I want to do with my bike hobby is bring the public into it and ruin the fun.
Ha I think that's why I hardly sell anything, having a private space at my bros company gives it an exclusive feel like members only vibe, its only one step away from running as an independent boutique type bike shop all we have to do is add a cash til and an eftpos machine but nah like you say let's not spoil it, but me and the bro know we gona have to sell eventually but for now at the space is is the best bike space to be in, keep riding, keep livin
 
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I started working at a Raleigh pro shop when I was in high school. A fun job for sure. The one thing I hated was when they tried paying us wrenches commissions instead of hourly one summer. The rest was fun.
When I graduated from college, i was managing the failing shop by then, they offered to sell me the bike shop. Yeah, I could see it was way in debt so no thanks. I left after 4 days of new ownership. 4 days too long. The new owners torched the place within the year.

Now some 35 years later, money making career job over, I am now managing the local bike coop for no pay, just for fun and rewards of doing good.

A few things I've learned over the years.

Paying rent is the surest way to fail. (applies for housing too).
Borrowing operating funds is the next way to fail.
Paying for advertising never pays.

The shop I worked at in high school & college did all 3 and overpaid the owner and his family hobbies. Plus the huge inventory was called the local warehouse by other lbs. There is far more variety in parts now. Trying to stock everything is impossible. One of my never ending pet peeves is when a store workers tells me "we can order that". Well so can I this age of the internet and it will be cheaper, faster, and delivered to my house so I don't have to make another trip to your store. I've seen a lbs pay $250 for overnight shipping for a pair of wheels to keep a customer happy. Yikes.

I've seen several successful shops started with a group of investors / workers. 4 seems to be a good number. When the shop grows and succeeds, the less interested owners can be bought out by the others. In fact, putting buyout methods and prices in the initial agreement can give everyone specific goals to work for.

Running your own business means you work when you aren't sleeping. Like 12 hour days, every day. You need to learn to do your own accounting and taxes and payroll and bill paying and do all that on time.

Bikes are a never ending irregular cycle of fads that fade but never die out completely. Pretty much every kind of bike ever made is still being made, some in very small numbers. You can become an expert on any one but none will be a raging success. High wheelers, mountain bikes, bmx, cruisers, road racing bikes, touring bikes, unicycles, commuters, gravel bikes, tandems, recumbents, etc. You simply can't deal with all of them or even more than a few. Need to focus on what sells, not collecting dust and interest payments. Many styles are age dependent. Guys still want what they wanted when they were kids but now they can afford them. Once that generation is gone, no one wants that stuff anymore so the prices plummet.

One old school bit of advice was to start small, as a repair business. Well selling new bikes is far more profitable. It's the core of all bike shops. Hiring decent help plagues most businesses. Selling parts and accessories is limited.

Another way bike shops carry on is to inherit them. That's usually done from father to son. Good luck with that.
 
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My manufacturing costs (injection molding labor and material) have doubled since 2019 :-(
 

Captain Awesome

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My manufacturing costs (injection molding labor and material) have doubled since 2019 :-(
COVID did no favors to the resin market. It's a constant rollercoaster
 

Swampthing

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Thompson Classic grips still going strong since 2010. My little side gig was born here on RRB. Not a dream come true, but more than pays for my cycling hobbie.
Love your grips, speaking of, my chrome KHS could use a set 😉
 

Ulu

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There’s a big problem, that fortunately I do not myself have: Americans don’t want bicycles. They don’t want the exercise. They either want private cars and trucks, or cheap/free public transport.

California also has this issue of scroungy homeless bicyclers. It’s an image problem affecting sales here.

Remember Dale Bozzio? … Nobody walks in LA ? It’s that Same attitude about bikes here in way too many places. Something for poor people. DUIs who lost the license. Eccentrics. Losers. Fitness nuts and crazy adventurers.

Now I live where they planned communities for easy biking, from the burbs to school, shopping, dining, clinics, etc.

Except for bicycle parts (and car stuff I can’t get at O’Reilly auto) almost everything I need is within a 1 mile ride on smooth level streets, with special bike lanes on anything over 25 mph.

Those bike lanes are empty. Few people around here ride bicycles except children. There is little “secure” parking for bicycles.

Anyhow, there is this image problem with bicycles. Honda faced the image problem back when movie motorcyclists looked like Brando and Lee Marvin, with greasy levis, leather boots and a cigarette.

Then they started a big advertising campaign about how you meet nice people on motorcycles. It changed their business in America to be a rousing success, though part of that was also expensive gas of the 70s.

So you’ve got that going for you now. The gasoline shortage and the slowly growing hatred for gasoline vehicles among many people.

But you have to overcome that image problem to sell more bikes. This is how I would approach it.

If you live in America, make it a patriotic thing. Make an American thing that goes all the way back to Orville and Wilbur flying off to Kitty Hawk. Make it patriotic looking to get more exercise and be seen as an athletic (and thus attractive) hip person.

Competing with a high-quality high priced product in a saturated market full of low quality low priced products is a business that you cannot make profitable. That is to say you are not going to make money by selling the bicycles.

You make money by selling an image of broad desirability to a population with the income to participate.

Broad desire. This Thing Is For Everyone. Indispensible. Desirable. Timeless. Best.

If you sell that idea, the bicycles can sell them selves.
 

Palepainter

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Colorado does pretty decent in the bike business. There are ton of road riders out here in their full blow racing regalia. It’s a pageantry of hey….look at me. Mountain biking business is solid as well. I find that the vintage bike market suffers a bit as most uneducated rider just sees old junk. 😀 which provides for decent pricing on stuff for the most part. But there are a few of us scouring and battling Craigslist to get to them first.
I having been self employed for nearly 30 years, it’s a struggle to not let the public beat you down mentally. It does get better as your ability to say no comes with longevity. I think there are likely over 20 bike shops with in a 15 mile radius of me. A niche store would do well, anything else would fall into the mix and location would be key.
 

Endlesschain

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some good stories coming out and very interesting about peoples different levels and ideals of involvement in our bike world and the different locations within countries and around the world that make it easy or very hard and the emotions we feel from enjoying a thriving bike community to conflict between cyclist and everyone else to feeling sad that you may be about the only one in an area that cycles and sees the benefit of cycling, and to see the rise and decline and vice versa over years of bike shops and cycling around the world, In my city over the 28 years I've lived here I've always seen cyclist commuting, training or recreational riding and there was a few bike shops around then in recent years start closing, at the moment there is only one independent bike shop run by my friend who is the best bike mechanic and trained in so much skills that he is most likely the best in the north of our country, there's one other large bike shop that is ok but more interested in taking your money, and in the last few years a couple of shops dedicated to Ebikes only, the city in recent years has done wide long cycle/walkways from the burbs to the CBD but within the CBD can still be scary for new or young cyclists as its still car centric but thankfully I believe cycling has increased with the Ebike evolution that I don't hate but its not for me but if it gets people on bikes its a win in my book, I love bikes so much even if I get so old that I have to ride an adult trike it will always be till death do us part.
while I am 52 years young and semi crazy it will be Ride for ever, forever Ride
I have come away from this thread a better educated man
Peace
 

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