Start a Bike Shop in a Small Town

Opening a local bike shop for selling, building and repairing bicycles can be a rewarding enterprise, if you are willing to put in the initial work.

| March/April 1974

  • Bicycles
    In a small shop, most of your income will probably come from bike repair services.

  • Bicycles

Here, for all the folks who want to get out of a big city and start a little business in a friendly, peaceful spot, is yet another small-town self-employment suggestion: Become a bicycle dealer in the small town of your choice. My wife, Sharon, and I have run a bike shop for a year now and feel sufficiently expert to pass on a few basics (enough, we hope, to help you decide whether or not this trade will suit you as well as it suits us).

First, why a bicycle shop? Because, as you probably know, a "bike boom" is underway. In 1972 two-wheelers outsold automobiles for the first time in modern history, and someone has to market and service all those millions of machines. (Incidentally, one satisfaction of the business is the knowledge that you're providing your customers with non-polluting transportation.)

And why a small-town location? Partly, of course, to give you that relaxed, pleasant life you're after, but also because the smaller community is a good potential market for well made bicycles, and one that's been neglected because of the direction the boom has taken.

Increased demand for bikes has brought more and more manufacturers into the field: some with fine products and some with junk designed to be sold cheaply to Americans who don't know what makes a good machine. These larger producers, with a few exceptions, seem to be concentrating on urban sales, with much of their output retailed through department stores and discount houses. So it happens that the resident of the average small town can buy a bicycle only through the local chain outlet, and in most cases his acquisition will be of poor quality. Which adds up to a fine opportunity for you, the independent small-town dealer, to profit by offering, without competition, usually, better goods than those in the department stores. You won't have a monopoly on local bike sales, of course: Many people will buy the cheaper products from large outlets just to save money. But when their purchases fall apart (as they inevitably do), you'll get the repair jobs.

How Much Will it Cost?

The amount of money you'll need to start a bike business depends on the scale of your plans. Ten thousand dollars will launch a very large operation, $5,000 an adequate one. Sharon and I began on $3,500 and could probably have got by with a little less.

Whatever your initial grubstake, it's best if you don't have to borrow the money to start with. Today's interest rates could easily make the difference between success and failure.

11/19/2008 12:03:51 PM

I don't know how much help a 30+ year-old (March/April 1974) article will give, but there seem to be a couple good nuggets in here. I think it'd be interesting to talk to the author(s) now and see how the shop turned out.

7/11/2008 5:22:45 PM

or you can open your own dollarshop go to its simple but you need to advertise your product on internate

11/14/2007 12:32:21 PM

You say the average price of a bike is $125. Surely this was 20 years ago as today it's about $500 for a 18-21 speed road bike. I think using your numbers I should multiply by a factor of 4 or 5.

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