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  1. #1
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    Thinking of opening a bike shop in the Northeast

    Hey everyone. I'm new here on the forums. I came here to get some advice and thoughts on opening up a bike shop in the Northeast. CT, specifically.

    Its always kind of been a dream of mine to own a bike shop. I know there are a ton of bike shops around here, but they are all road bike shops. Some have a a small inventory of mountain bikes, and almost zero downhill bikes.

    Since true FS mountain bikes and downhill bikes are so hard to find, I was considering opening a dedicated downhill/freeride bike shop.

    You'd think there would not be a market for that here, but a good amount of people here actually do ride local trails on big bikes. Then there are the people that drive up to VT/NH on the weekends to ride the resorts.

    In a market saturated by road bike shops, I think there is a business potential here that has not been tapped into yet. A shop dedicated to providing downhill bikes, and servicing them. No more wandering around to countless bike shops trying to find someone who even remotely knows something about dh bikes.

    What do you guys think?

    Thanks.

    Happy New Years!

  2. #2
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    Are you guys able to ride year round? I wouldn't count on those peeps that only ride at resorts, unless there is somewere to ride during the time when the resorts are closed. A few of the shops up above the snowline here in CA also sell winter sports equipment as well in order to make a profit in the off season. Probually, would be a good idea to include allmountain and XC bikes, rather than focusing strickly on DH bikes.
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  3. #3
    Uphill? What's that
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    Although that sounds good on paper and I would love to see a dedicated DH. bike shop in my area the sad truth is that the downhill market just is not big enough on the east coast.. I word suggest opening a shop with mountain bikes and advertise having DH and FR bikes. That way you can attract all styles of mountain bikers while catering to the DH crowd.

  4. #4
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    I think your ideal location would be in NH. I'll work there too

  5. #5
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    Talked to a few guys at Tony's bikes in Milford about demographics in CT. There's little to no good DH trails on the coast, the valley has some sporadic decent stuff along with western CT. They told me the bigger mountains and trails are up in North/North-east CT. I'm going to assume that the best area to open something like that is around Hartford if you're dead set on opening in CT.

  6. #6
    GAME ON!
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    there's no money in it so i hope you have an endless cash flow.
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  7. #7
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    If you're gonna open a shop, copy Bike Bling's business plan.

    Focus on Internet sales, and open your inventory site as a shop.

    Mostly, be cool to your customers. I'm done with Bling.

  8. #8
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    i live where there is no immediate access to downhill riding, we have one shop that sells dh bikes (but it also sells everything else - kids bikes, road, xc, dj). Typically they have 2-3 models in, not sure how fast they move em. Most of the DH bikes around are from sponsored racers

  9. #9
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    everyone pretty much nailed it...even close to some great DH trails and dedicated dh/fr shop wouldn't stay in business...you need to sell other bikes and unfortunately there is a bigger profit and population on xc and am bikes.

    if you concentrate on quick and quality, service/repairs there is always a market
    the trick is ENJOYING YOUR LIFE EACH DAY, don't waste them away wishing for better days

  10. #10
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    There are trails in CT that you can ride on a big bike after bike parks closed, you just need to know the places . And this would be for some good 20-40ft gaps and 10ft drops .

    But as people have mentioned , you DEF need to have XC and AM bikes since thats where most the market is at , BUT also provide DH . DH bikes generally are expensive but if you have the cash to invest have a couple different models as Demos on your floor . Seems like Giant Glorys and Spec Demos are the most popular DH bike , maybe Nukeproof soon lol .

    When i was shopping for a DH bike i was surprised that NO shops had 1 single DH bike , it was all about hardtails and XC riding . Then there was just a couple FS AM bikes ..

    Out of my search i found only 2 places that had it luckily and had to do quite a drive , but it would be nice if more shops provided more of a fr/dh scene to their place of business and not spandex heaven .

  11. #11
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    this is how the DH scene works from a shop's perspective to my knowledge... you have maybe a couple guys with high paying jobs that buy a new bike every year no matter what. then you have everyone else in the scene that picks up their used stuff or the occasional new bike on clear out that you've been sitting on for a couple years and just want to get the money out of so you can then buy more $30 light sets that actually sell.

    then when you service those guys' bikes they constantly think you're ripping them off when they bring in their clapped out 4 year old bike that's never had a suspension overhaul or a brake bleed and you tell them they should change their shift cable out.

    cynic much? yes.

  12. #12
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    yea, those guys in milford have banshee DH bikes on demo and I don't think they sell too many of them
    Last edited by bboyuseless; 01-04-2013 at 11:15 AM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by FullMonty View Post
    this is how the DH scene works from a shop's perspective to my knowledge... you have maybe a couple guys with high paying jobs that buy a new bike every year no matter what. then you have everyone else in the scene that picks up their used stuff or the occasional new bike on clear out that you've been sitting on for a couple years and just want to get the money out of so you can then buy more $30 light sets that actually sell.

    then when you service those guys' bikes they constantly think you're ripping them off when they bring in their clapped out 4 year old bike that's never had a suspension overhaul or a brake bleed and you tell them they should change their shift cable out.

    cynic much? yes.
    similar stuff over here. Another point, peeps into the DH/FR side of things tend to be more DIY/tinkerers that the average weekend xc warrior or commuters (just my personal observation). It could a disappointment if one is relying on service of the rigs to get the cash. However, I prefer to deal with shops that have a DH bike on display because I just assume they might have bit more of a clue then shops with only xc hardtrails and expensive road frames

  14. #14
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    Mbell nailed it. Would you like to have the sales volume of Performance Bike? Good numbers I would imagine, but they sell almost nothing that a real rider would use. Check out Wrench Science (I mean check out online). Small building in Berkeley, high end stuff. Fun shop if you live near by, but their business is world wide.

  15. #15
    Big Gulps, Alright!
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbell View Post
    If you're gonna open a shop, copy Bike Bling's business plan.

    Focus on Internet sales, and open your inventory site as a shop.

    Mostly, be cool to your customers. I'm done with Bling.

    Assuming you can find a way to get manufacturers to sell you stuff at wholesale prices on par with other online sellers. If you try to sell stuff on the web at the same prices as most bike shops, you won't sell much.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by SHIVER ME TIMBERS View Post
    everyone pretty much nailed it...even close to some great DH trails and dedicated dh/fr shop wouldn't stay in business...you need to sell other bikes and unfortunately there is a bigger profit and population on xc and am bikes.

    if you concentrate on quick and quality, service/repairs there is always a market

    I'm with the Shiver... location/supply and demand is everything. Granted they do online sales too but Go-Ride and maybe a select few others who are more DH/FR oriented are versatile in what they do. Problem I see with the north east which I'm from(Saratoga) and know you have to fill the void when winter hits. Lots of ski mountains in Ny, Vt,, Mass, and N. NJ... hope things work out for you
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  17. #17
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    Being that we just did the same type of shop in Asheville NC. We heard the same negative comments. Everyone thinks they are an expert. We were trying to cater to all off road types at first but with a gravity emphasis. That didnt work for us as thats not what people wanted. A true DH shop is what they wanted. I had 3 people come in on one day this week who just wanted to see a DH bike in person. Even though they didnt buy that day, I know they will be back. If you ever want advice send me a pm or give us a call at the shop. Everyone said there was no DH support in this area two but we have sold close to 20 DH bikes and frames in less than 2 months. We have sold zero xc bikes, there are 14 other shops in the area that cater to this. Location is key for sure. We dont get the snow you get up there so you better a wintertime plan. Lots of people are looking for new bikes during the winter season and upgrades to their current rigs as well. Dont even try to compete with the online retailers, you can't. They are buying at OEM pricing not at Wholesale like us. Until all the industry comes up with a MAP program, we will not be able to compete. But if you do the best you can on pricing and keep your overhead low you have shot. It will only fail if you quit. Stay away from employees at first until you are sure you can make it, the last thing you want is to worry about covering someones paycheck. KEEP YOUR OVERHEAD LOW, it is easy to get in over your head fast. It will not be easy. You will be able to sell all types of bikes, Downhill shops cater to downhill style riders not just 8"+ bikes

    Matt
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocketmatt17 View Post
    Being that we just did the same type of shop in Asheville NC. We heard the same negative comments. Everyone thinks they are an expert. We were trying to cater to all off road types at first but with a gravity emphasis. That didnt work for us as thats not what people wanted. A true DH shop is what they wanted. I had 3 people come in on one day this week who just wanted to see a DH bike in person. Even though they didnt buy that day, I know they will be back. If you ever want advice send me a pm or give us a call at the shop. Everyone said there was no DH support in this area two but we have sold close to 20 DH bikes and frames in less than 2 months. We have sold zero xc bikes, there are 14 other shops in the area that cater to this. Location is key for sure. We dont get the snow you get up there so you better a wintertime plan. Lots of people are looking for new bikes during the winter season and upgrades to their current rigs as well. Dont even try to compete with the online retailers, you can't. They are buying at OEM pricing not at Wholesale like us. Until all the industry comes up with a MAP program, we will not be able to compete. But if you do the best you can on pricing and keep your overhead low you have shot. It will only fail if you quit. Stay away from employees at first until you are sure you can make it, the last thing you want is to worry about covering someones paycheck. KEEP YOUR OVERHEAD LOW, it is easy to get in over your head fast. It will not be easy. You will be able to sell all types of bikes, Downhill shops cater to downhill style riders not just 8"+ bikes

    Matt
    Billy Goat Bikes
    Rocket Matt Here Nailed. I also own a Small shop In New Jersey. Your Rent Must Be LOW. DO NOT SIGN A TRIPLE NET LEASE. You Will be the one working 10 Hour days 6-7 Days a week. Forget about mid day rides for a while. SERVICE is everything. If you don't know how to Fix a 3 speed from the sixties or how to get a Huffy performing at least reasonably well then you should not even consider this! Do your market research. You will have to stock some bread and butter Hybrid's and Hard tail stuff along with the Freeride/DH Gear. Also consider the Winter, You need to plan ahead for this! You can PM me with questions or the chat further on the subject.

    Mike
    Wyckoff Cycle

  19. #19
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    Riguy, great thread.

    I don't think all people are trying to be negative. Lots of good questions to think about. Go for it! I am mid 40's, sort of trapped in my life (mortgage, decent cashflow, time to ride when I want). So, too scared to try to open shop. Do it while you can! If it fails in 3 years, you can do something else! No big deal! You will probably get good support from MTBR people, that will help.

  20. #20
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    I live in nh 20min from highland and the only other place that sells DH bikes is s&w in concord and they had like 4 session session 8s. I asked why they didn't carry any thing for DH specific riding and they said the markets just not there, and that's 30min from a mtb dedicated mountain.

  21. #21
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    [QUOTE]I live in nh 20min from highland and the only other place that sells DH bikes is s&w in concord and they had like 4 session session 8s. I asked why they didn't carry any thing for DH specific riding and they said the markets just not there, and that's 30min from a mtb dedicated mountain./QUOTE]

    We have no dedicated DH mountain. We have mostly DH specific gear and people are coming out of the woodwork just to see a downhill bike. We never expected this kind of turnout. Every area is different. You dont have downhill specific wholesale accounts so you will still technically serve everyone. Wintertime down here is nothing like up there, do your research. Talk to DH riders!

  22. #22
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    Riguy, Have you worked at a shop before? Do you know how to work retail, work on bikes, rebuild and service suspension? Rocket and Tracer bring up some great points and you should take them up on getting some of their experience. I help out at a shop that's pretty close to Highlands in NH. You would think that DH FR bike would be flying out the door. But they aren't, we mainly sell road and 29er mtb. We have sold some DH stuff. But have found that most of the DH bikes, frames, forks ect. that we would stock wouldn't be the right size, color, build, or what ever. A lot of people would just buy their stuff online because they wouldn't want to wait to order it,or they would get a bike from their friends brother that owns a shop some where, at cost. I hope you can make your dream a reality. Keep us posted

  23. #23
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    Another thing to thing about maybe is DH bike rentals ?

  24. #24
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    Its great other shop owners have jumped into this discussion....they are your best sounding board for ideas so take advantage of their generosity to answer questions.

    Remember, your opening a business to make money and it happens to be a bike shop. You can open more lucrative businesses and spend that money on bikes and vacations.. That said, what are your goals for the shop? How much money do you need to make? How long are you planning on owning it? Will what you make $$ today support you tomorrow or does your business plan need to grow with your needs? Do you have employees you can trust? Whats the plan for the winter? Can you sell off-brand bikes to start? How will you advertise? If you're doing all the work will you have time to ride? If you have a partner is there enough $$ for both of you? Is the $$ in sales or repairs? And this is just a start - Danz Surf and Skate 1985-1995 It was FUN while it lasted.

  25. #25
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    Powder Ridge is being developed for lift access in central CT.

    BIKERAG.COM FORUM • View forum - Powder Ridge MTB

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