[TheThinkTank] Bike Shop Competition

Mark Rehder mark at re-cycles.ca
Fri Feb 29 11:46:23 PST 2008

At re-Cycles we have been careful in nurturing our relationships with  
the LBSs, and it concurs with what Troy writes about BICAS.  But we  
do not sell any new items outside of cables, and even then only if a  
used one is not available.  If people want locks or whatever we  
direct them to the nearest shop.

I worked for a few busy seasons at McCrank's Cycles here in Ottawa.   
Even before I started there the owner (Peter) let us purchase  
catalogue items through him for cost plus 10%, and this is only for  
items we cannot get donated to us from MEC.  While I was working for  
him I was also volunteering at re-Cycles (and in my current Director  
role) and we saw no big conflict of interest.  His bike prices start  
at $450, while ours are at $45, so there's no competition there.  And  
he would happily direct people to us if they asked about a local DIY  
repair or 2nd-hand shop (and let me give "the speech" if I was  
around), and always kept our brochures on hand.

We return the favour by picking up his scrap metal and adding it to  
ours on our way to the recyclers.  We even pore over his first  
because sometimes he is scrapping stuff that is simply old and being  
replaced at a customer's request, but not yet scrap.  Also, each year  
he donates a few bikes to us that have gone unclaimed over the  
previous year.

So yes, there ideally should be no conflicts - it's all about people  
on bikes, wherever the bikes are bought and wherever they get fixed!

Mark Rehder - Director

On 28-Feb-08, at 3:07 AM, troy neiman wrote:

> I would like to agree with Jonathan and add to his points of  
> establishing communication with your LBS.
> Keep in mind that the more people on bikes is better for everyone  
> and especially bike shop business in general.  I have found that in  
> the case of anyone that is buying/fixing a bike at our community  
> shop will inevitably need a retail store to buy parts/labor from at  
> some point, and might I add that many folks who come to BICAS are  
> just getting in to the idea of riding a bike for transportation and  
> will many times upgrade once they get to enjoy that idea.
> Also, a bike rider that can fix their own flat tire, lube the chain  
> and diagnose the problems is a happy rider and far less likely to  
> become frustrated and stop riding all together.
> At BICAS we do stock some necessary new parts such as cables, some  
> tubes and tires, chains, and simple locks/lights (priced the same  
> as LBS as not to undercut) which we order directly from QBP or J&B  
> importers.  We do not advertise the new parts but make known the  
> availability of these items when needed.  These are also the  
> distributors we use to get our tools.
> I myself work part time at BICAS and part at the LBS and can say  
> first hand that this is an essential and benificial relationship  
> for both.  We send many folks to the LBS for newer and specific  
> parts that we may not have and they send folks down for older, used  
> or obsolete parts that they don't have and it works great for  
> both.  I have also noticed that when I tell someone about BICAS  
> when I am working at the LBS they are thrilled to know about the  
> resource and usually impressed at the honesty and collaboration  
> between the two, which equals loyal customers.
> Truth is some people are Community bike people and some are bike  
> shop people and if we can work together that means more people on  
> bikes and more business for everyone so lets get people on bikes  
> people!
> Troy Neiman
> Tucson, AZ
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "the816bikecollective Kansascity" <the816bike at gmail.com>
>> To: "The Think Tank" <thethinktank at bikecollectives.org>
>> Subject: Re: [TheThinkTank] Bike Shop Competition
>> Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2008 20:22:44 -0500
>> Hey, I'm Sean with the not yet operational 816 Bicycle Collective  
>> in Kansas
>> City, MO. We've raised money already by holding a benefit event.  
>> We had
>> bands, food, and fun, and we charged a five dollar suggested  
>> donation. In
>> order to help us, we had some really kick ass bands. As far as  
>> spare parts
>> go, we've been posting all over the board asking for old parts for  
>> the last
>> 10 months. This actually created an excess of parts. In order to  
>> try to
>> avoid competition with the LBSs, we presented them (at their  
>> request) with
>> information about who we are and what we're doing.
>> There is one LBS in our area that has helped us getting tools at  
>> cost, but
>> they're an owner operated company that has long wondered where the
>> collective was in KC. We're lucky. Basically, money and parts are  
>> free, they
>> just take a lot of organized effort. We have a cap of something  
>> like $80 for
>> all bike sales. We only sell bikes to raise funds, so basically we  
>> don't
>> sell bikes out of the shop. If there's a nice bike we come into  
>> and we need
>> money, we'll try to get it to someone via craigslist or word of  
>> mouth.
>> One more thing, I personally work as a mechanic at an LBS (not the  
>> owner
>> operated one) and rather than an interview from my current  
>> employer, I was
>> basically interrogated as to how my being employed by him and being a
>> volunteer at the collective was not a conflict of interest.
>> Again, we're not yet operational, so take this advice as you will.  
>> Also feel
>> free to check out our myspace page,
>> http://www.myspace.com/the816bicyclecollective. Look at our blog  
>> and you'll
>> find some specifics about our soon to be operation.  Best of luck!!!
>> -Sean in the 816
>> On 2/27/08, Stuart O Anderson <soa at ri.cmu.edu> wrote:
>>> I'm familiar with Devil Gear, and they have some unique features  
>>> that
>>> make this difficult.  Unlike most the LBS's we have in Pittsburgh,
>>> Devils Gear sells repaired used bikes in the 100-150 dollar range.
>>> That puts them in competition for both resources and market segments
>>> with a volunteer based community shop that's fixing up bikes for  
>>> sale.
>>> Last time I was in New Haven they were charging about double what we
>>> would have priced bikes for at Free Ride, but had a somewhat higher
>>> median quality of bike.  They also stock a fair selection of new
>>> bikes.
>>> I'd suggest that the New Haven collective try to avoid  
>>> competition for
>>> now by focusing on educational program rather than bike sales.  I.E.
>>> offering a 3 week, 6 session class in bike mechanics for adults or
>>> offering a build-a-bike program to local youth organizations, or
>>> having a sponsored tune-up-day event at one of the local  
>>> universities.
>>> These sorts of programs take a little more effort to set up, but
>>> could be quite profitable.
>>> We get our parts through QBP (Quality Bike Parts) - you'll need to
>>> have liability insurance to get an account with them.
>>> Stuart
>>> On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 7:01 PM, Jonathan Morrison
>>> <jonathan at slcbikecollective.org> wrote:
>>>> Most of the problems I have seen in other cities are due to poor
>>>> communication and misunderstandings.  This is my pitch, it works  
>>>> in salt
>>>> lake city -- feel free to use, modify, and/or ignore it.
>>>> Community Bike Shops don't compete with Local Bike Shops (LBS),  
>>>> instead
>>> they
>>>> form a tight symbiotic relationship.  Why?
>>>> First, we serve different demographics.  We serve the people  
>>>> that can't
>>>> afford or are scared of the LBS.  Someone can buy a bike from a  
>>>> thrift
>>> store
>>>> for $25, a bike from Walmart for $100 or a low end bike from a  
>>>> LBS for
>>> $350.
>>>> We sell bikes anywhere from $50 to $150, so if anything we  
>>>> compete with
>>>> Walmart, but they don't seem to care.  If someone can't afford a  
>>>> bike at
>>>> your LBS, send them to us!  If someone is looking for a nicer  
>>>> bike and
>>> has
>>>> money to spend we will send them to you!
>>>> Second, we create business for the LBS!  While we have our own
>>> distributor
>>>> accounts, they are reserved for our most dedicated volunteers,  
>>>> everyone
>>> else
>>>> we redirect to the LBS.  Our shop is open from 5-9pm so we tell  
>>>> them if
>>> they
>>>> can make it make it to the LBS before it closes (7PM), they  
>>>> could make
>>> it
>>>> back in time to install the part.
>>>> Third, we are a tax writeoff!  Get rid of used, new, old stock  
>>>> and make
>>> room
>>>> for things that can sell!  Give it to us, and not only can you  
>>>> go to
>>> sleep
>>>> knowing it went into good hands -- you can get a much needed tax
>>> writeoff.
>>>> We will also publicize the fact you help your community by doing  
>>>> so.
>>>> Fourth, we are your source for future mechanics.  Not sure who  
>>>> to hire?
>>>> While our volunteers don't always deal with the high-end bikes,  
>>>> we can
>>>> recommend potential employees based on the more important things  
>>>> like
>>> their
>>>> ability to learn, reliability, ability to take direction, and their
>>> level of
>>>> customer service and passion for cycling.  We train them to the  
>>>> point
>>> where
>>>> they could be molded into the perfect employee.
>>>> --
>>>> Sincerely,
>>>> Jonathan Morrison
>>>> Executive Director
>>>> Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective
>>>> 2312 S. West Temple
>>>> Salt Lake City, UT 84115
>>>> w: 801-328-2453
>>>> c: 801-688-0183
>>>> f: 801-466-3856
>>>> www.slcbikecollective.org
>>>> Get Addicted to Crank!
>>>> http://www.slcbikecollective.org/crank/
>>>> On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 4:05 PM, Cris Shirley <cgshirley at gmail.com>
>>> wrote:
>>>>> Hey!
>>>>> So we are starting a bike collective in New Haven, and had the  
>>>>> support
>>>>> of our local bike shop Devil's Gear Bikes where the owner said  
>>>>> that he
>>>>> would provide parts at cost and help us out on stuff.  Well,  
>>>>> now he is
>>>>> feeling treaten because he thinks we might start moving in a  
>>>>> direction
>>>>> that may in competition with him (right now we need some start up
>>>>> money so we are going to fix up and sell some of the bikes we  
>>>>> have.)
>>>>> Note that we have not given one bike away yet.  So, I was  
>>>>> wondering if
>>>>> anyone had any experiences of this sort and how they were managed?
>>>>> How do y'all get parts for bikes like cables and tubes and  
>>>>> tires, and
>>>> chains?
>>>>> Thanks
>>>>> cris

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