Anyone think about being a fork dealer/seller?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Anyone think about being a fork dealer/seller?

    I know there are hoops to jump through like store frontage and minimum orders, but what's stopping anyone from having their own mailorder business, and selling forks for a great deal?

  2. #2
    MK_
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    Quote Originally Posted by westin
    I know there are hoops to jump through like store frontage and minimum orders, but what's stopping anyone from having their own mailorder business, and selling forks for a great deal?
    Lack of entrepreneurial spirit. And a healthy dose of knowledge of how many e-tailers there are and local bike shops and mail order stores, etc. But that's not to say that one can't be successful at it.

    _MK

    "The things you get fired for when you’re young are the same things you get Lifetime Achievements for when you’re old."

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by MK_
    Lack of entrepreneurial spirit. And a healthy dose of knowledge of how many e-tailers there are and local bike shops and mail order stores, etc. But that's not to say that one can't be successful at it.

    _MK
    If you had low overhead and a good system of payment and shipping, and a lot of time, it could be easy if you're willing to sell at a lower margin than everyone else. Or am I missing something about this whole idea?

  4. #4
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    If it were that easy

    We'd all be making money hand over fist. The idea sounds great in theory, but I would guess there are many factors to consider. A couple that come to mind are:

    1) Competition-there are already a ton of online superstores to buy forks, not to mention people like Larry at Mountain High, Jared at Downshift, and Chad at Red Barn. They have excellent prices and customer services which promotes a loyal following. How will you compete with these folks? Price alone won't do it.

    2) Pricing-the idea of lower margins is nice, but I'm pretty sure most manufacturers expect you to sell their products within a specific price range. If you consistently sell below that range, you will strain the relationship with the supplier to the point of not getting product.

    3) Capital-Where will you get the working capital or line of credit to get enough product that you can satisfy your customer's needs?

    I don't mean to rain on your parade, but I just don't think it's as simple as you might think it is. If you can make it happen, more power to you. Others obviously have, but my guess is that they have worked very hard to be successful.

    Best Wishes,

    Bob
    'If Wal-Mart sold parachutes, who would jump?' Frank Havnoonian (quoting his father) Drexel Hill Cyclery

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Call_me_Clyde
    We'd all be making money hand over fist. The idea sounds great in theory, but I would guess there are many factors to consider. A couple that come to mind are:

    1) Competition-there are already a ton of online superstores to buy forks, not to mention people like Larry at Mountain High, Jared at Downshift, and Chad at Red Barn. They have excellent prices and customer services which promotes a loyal following. How will you compete with these folks? Price alone won't do it.

    2) Pricing-the idea of lower margins is nice, but I'm pretty sure most manufacturers expect you to sell their products within a specific price range. If you consistently sell below that range, you will strain the relationship with the supplier to the point of not getting product.

    3) Capital-Where will you get the working capital or line of credit to get enough product that you can satisfy your customer's needs?

    I don't mean to rain on your parade, but I just don't think it's as simple as you might think it is. If you can make it happen, more power to you. Others obviously have, but my guess is that they have worked very hard to be successful.

    Best Wishes,

    Bob
    Excellent points. Nothing against the likes of Larry, Chad or any other online seller, but there are many "dealers" on eBay who are knocking brand new Fox forks out like crazy. Customer service is necessary in so many aspects of cycling business, but when it comes to selling a fork in a box, I'm hoping my 15 years of fork buying, selling (used stuff) and working on Fox forks for the past 4 years will suffice. I presume a buyer of an F100X just wants a deal, not a lecture on how the Terralogic works, but if he/she does I can do that. Now, if I was wanting to sell Hope discs and someone wanted to know how to replace the piston and change out the internal doohicky, then I'd be screwd (and so would the customer).

    The capital part is easy: I have the money to buy a lot of forks right now.

    Many local shops are selling the forks for retail and then they add tax, give or take 10%. A $775 msrp fork sells quickly on eBay for $599 plus $15 s/h. I don't know what dealer cost is, but let's just say it's $450-ish. I can live with a $149 gross take.

    I appreciate everyone's comments. That's why I posted. It's like a mini business plan online. I think the reason many aren't making money hand over fist is because they have no ambition, no capital and they get in over their heads in some aspect. I just want to buy 10 forks at a time, and sell 10 forks at a time.

  6. #6
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    Go for it man! Don't be discouraged to do what it is that you enjoy doing. You'll learn the nuances. Many people make a living off of online retail for a great many different products.

    Personally, I have purchased six different forks of varying types in the last 3.5 years. Of those, I still have three and was able to sell two as used and returned one for warranty refund. There's definitely a market for new suspension parts - at least in my neck of the woods.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by chad1433
    Go for it man! Don't be discouraged to do what it is that you enjoy doing. You'll learn the nuances. Many people make a living off of online retail for a great many different products.

    Personally, I have purchased six different forks of varying types in the last 3.5 years. Of those, I still have three and was able to sell two as used and returned one for warranty refund. There's definitely a market for new suspension parts - at least in my neck of the woods.
    I hear the secret is to get distributor prices from Fox. Rumor has it that's 30% less than dealer.

  8. #8
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    westin

    what would be really cool is if anybody could show up at your place and ride a bike with the fork on it...kind of like a testing ground....a little obstacle course in your backyard....that would be cool
    "He can make even a global summit meeting seem like a kegger." M. Dowd, NY Times, 19 July 2006

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by adamantane
    westin

    what would be really cool is if anybody could show up at your place and ride a bike with the fork on it...kind of like a testing ground....a little obstacle course in your backyard....that would be cool
    I have the riding area to do that, but I don't have the liability insurance nor would I want to deal with the "I rode this fork, and it broke, and I'm sueing everyone from the seller to the fork company to the, heck, bicycle manufacturer. No one told me I could not jump off a rooftop."

  10. #10
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    What about warranty claims?

    Quote Originally Posted by westin
    I have the riding area to do that, but I don't have the liability insurance nor would I want to deal with the "I rode this fork, and it broke, and I'm sueing everyone from the seller to the fork company to the, heck, bicycle manufacturer. No one told me I could not jump off a rooftop."
    if you plan on selling your forks via ebay, you probably won't be recognized as an official Fox dealer, and most likely won't be able to make warranty claims. To be an authorized dealer, you'll have to sell the forks within the guidelines dictated by the manufacturer, which would potentially kill any pricing advantage you could have on the competition.

    of course I probably don't know what I'm talking about..

    op
    www.msmtb.org - Mississippi Mountain Biking

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ohpossum
    if you plan on selling your forks via ebay, you probably won't be recognized as an official Fox dealer, and most likely won't be able to make warranty claims. To be an authorized dealer, you'll have to sell the forks within the guidelines dictated by the manufacturer, which would potentially kill any pricing advantage you could have on the competition.

    of course I probably don't know what I'm talking about..

    op
    All on eBay and classifieds forums.

  12. #12
    Old man on a bike
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    10 forks at a time for distributor status? Doubt it...
    "...the people get the government they deserve..."
    suum quique

  13. #13
    Code Burr
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    1. All fork manufacturers require an insurance binder for verification.
    Fox even requires photos of your store and an advertisement like the yellow pages.
    2. Insurance companies will not insure you without a commercial property.
    3. Commercial properties require a lease and in my area cost way more than residential when you compare $1 per square foot.

    Now you could bypass the fork makers and buy from BTI or QBP but they are even more strict than the fork makers. They require insurance, photos, business phone and fax, a website.... They are well aware of the ebayers and are doing their best to exclude them.

    Believe me, i've been trying to open a bike shop for over a year. You wonder why lbs prices are so high you have to consider their overhead. Most of my local shops pay more than $1000 a month just for rent. Then $100 for electric, $75 for commercial phone, $70 for insurance. Oh yeah and that stupid credit card swipe machine costs $400 plus 2%.

  14. #14
    Trail Rider
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    There was a shop in San Diego many years ago that used to sell and work on forks. They had a separate counter from the rest of the shop and advertised themselves. They sold forks cheaper than other stores. I don't know if they were owned by the shop itself. They had someone real talented with working on forks. Like many other shops in this year round biking part of the country, they went out of business. I think it is hard to compete with mail order places.
    Don

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