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hey guys, i have a question and i tried searching the boards, but didnt find much.

i have a friend who is considering taking over a small bike shop and i thought i would post to get any advice/thoughts on his situation.

heres what i know:

1. he is a noob to biking. we havent ridden together yet, but he seems to love it. but he is still a little new to it.

2. he is also a noob to business. he finished school not too long ago and like me, he works in the field of education, but thats just temporary for him.

3. he is not wealthy, but he has family connections who have money and want to help him start a business of his own.

4. recently, the owners of a lbs decided to put their shop on the market, something about non-business related issues pulling them away from work.

5. the shop does well, i think. been in business for decades.

6. i think they carry mid or lower end stuff, more for people who want a bike to take out of the garage every now and then, than enthusiasts who build up and go up every chance they get. some cruisers and such.

7. the staff is supposed to be very reliable and experienced. especially the manager.

mmm, thats all the details i know. i dont know too much about the geography/community cause im not from there, but i think it is sort of suburban. not too far from trails and not too far from the beach.

i have my doubts about owning bike shop, especially since i personally tend to make more and more of my bike-related purchases online, but he seems excited about it.

any thoughts? any shop owners out there who want to share their wisdom?
 

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I don't know about "inside secrets" but he definatly should have much more experience than it sounds like he does. A noob isn't going to be able to run a bike shop well, especially without much business experience. But if he decides to go for it, good luck to him.
 

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Bike shop knowledge is KEY. Bike knowledge is KEY. The biggest strength of LBS's over the internet, or big box retailers right now is product knowledge. When a customer walks into an LBS they expect to learn, and they expect the staff to be knowledgeable. While taking over an LBS sounds exciting, without product knowledge, a solid business plan, and bike shop experience, it will be very hard to compete with the other shops that have this, the online retailers who have lower prices, or the big box stores who have cheaper bikes.

My personal advice is to:
a. Work in a bike shop for a year.
b. Read as many bike publications and books as possible.
c. Ride with others in your local biking community as often as possible
d. Hire a good financial guy

I don't want to discourage your buddy, because working for yourself, doing what you love is awesome! On this flip side, if you can run a successful business, and offer something no one else around town can, then you will make it big. When you look at the big guys out there, they are so dominant today in the bike world because of a few things (These are all generalizations btw, please don't flame me if you don't agree)

Nashbar-Awesome selection, great prices
Pricepoint-Price is the point, and they have great prices
Beyond Bikes-Selection. You walk in there, and MAN DO THEY HAVE A LOT OF AWESOME FRAMES ON THE WALL!
Competitive Cyclist-Demos, demos, demos.

Now, those are just some bigger online retailers that you've probably heard of. On the local level, it is a little different. For example, we are a local shop (www.cycletofitness.com) , and we try to have in store clinics every other week, as well as 4 different groups rides every week. While other shops may have a group ride here and there, or an in store clinic every few months, we try to push the envelope, and keep people interested in biking all year long (Trust me, in Michigan that is tough!). There are many great rewards to having your own shop though too! You get great deals on bikes, you talk about bikes all the time, you hang out with bikers all the time, and you get to go to Interbike!

If your buddy wants his shop to be successful though, he needs to be "into" biking AND business savvy. That's what it all comes down to.
 
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