28 June 2011 - 22:18Paradigm Shift
I was called out by a good friend for posting such a morose post yesterday.
Sorry about that. It wasn’t meant to be so, and I have to thank all those that were lurking that have contacted me asking if things are OK. I appreciate all of it. Things have been tough here on many levels this year, and I feel blessed to know so many good people.
Imma gunna tell you a quick story, which will hopefully clear all this up. I will preface that this story is not a bitter one, there is no bad blood here. This is an impasse. It isn’t for lack of trying on either part. While it might take a while to shake out, the relationhip ended with the best of intentions for all concerned. I am of course, talking about my relationship with a certain big bike company.
It goes like this.
Five winters ago, I started a little tiny company called Bike 29. I sold what amounted to 10 things, because that is how many 29er specific components there were back then. I sold Niner, and Surly. I was essentially working from my then basement. B29 was born in late 2005, and had to become a “local bike store” in order to hold court with certain parts distributors. Having been around this carousel a few times, I knew that I had my work cut out for me. My relief from gainful employment kicked things up a gear or two, and so I took my first retail space. I was going to be a bike shop.
Check out my very first blog post. So filled with hope. Knowing nothing of the future. Now I can think of a few other four letter words now… I’ll get to those on the next post. What? No posts for like 3 weeks and all of a sudden I have things to say? I have a lot to say.
Over the last 5 or so years, I have seen a lot of shit happen in the bike industry. Some if it has been good, some of it, not so much. I could go on about my thoughts on how things have changed, how some stuff has never changed, how certain voices have been heard over others, how nothing has been said, but that isn’t my style. Nor am I complaining about the way things are. That isn’t my style either. I am a doer. I draw my own conclusions from my own experiences. When you call me to ask about tires/forks frames/wheels, I know the answer.
I can tell you that I have lived this business since the 90s, sometimes at great personal expense. I have seen, bought, ridden, sold, and broken everything. I have practically held every position possible in the bike industry, worked at every level, from shoprat to sales manager for a bike company to shop owner. I’ve been around enough of this business to know what works and what doesn’t. I started a bike shop in rural VT, where there is no economy, with no money but my own, and continue to make a good run at it. I’ve grown a business against all odds in an environment that the competition thinks they can buy into. I am still here. Still answering the phone. Still selling the things I started out selling. It has never changed.
But somewhere along the line, I got lost. I felt compelled to follow the “traditional” bike shop model, all the while I was creating the very thing that keeps my business alive. I’ve spent vast amounts of money over the years trying to be the “local bike shop”. I’m not going to even go into how much money that costs, even in my podunk little town. The market isn’t here yet. It’s coming, but it will take a while.
I’m the guy that learns the hard way.
I’ve cheated myself into thinking I needed to be something I never was. I’ve never been able to enjoy my success because I was always scrambling to cover my failures. Yet my success continues to provide. Even today. I had a ton of products that I am no longer authorized to sell removed from my shop today, yet I still had a great day at the register. Proof that I don’t need to follow the traditional bike shop model.
I’ve been better than that, and now I know.