The 2014 Interbike extravaganza is just around the corner. It is that magical time of year when all of us in the bicycle retail business spend money on airfare, hotels and buffets in sunny Las Vegas, Nevada to meet with other bicycle retailers that as just as broke as we are. We mingle about getting a look at all of the new products that are going to make us more successful next year. And yes – I will be there.
Owning a retail bike shop requires the ability to make fun of yourself a bit. Bike shops are always a labor of love and not necessarily of profit. Sure, a smart owner that thinks creatively can run a viable bicycle business, but if profits are your primary motivation you’ll be sadly disappointed. I’m reminded of a phrase I heard when my partner and I started on our own retail endeavor: “If you want a bike shop to make a million bucks, start out with a million bucks.” Profit margins are tight, and online competition is brutal. There is nothing like having a customer come in and point out that they found a product online for less than you can buy it wholesale. We can explain to folks all day long about inferior products being passed off as the real deal by unscrupulous online retailers, but at the end of the day unless we (bike retailers) differentiate ourselves from the online outlets through our customer service, we’re dead before we begin.
And so we flock to Vegas. We do it to educate ourselves on what is available in the marketplace. We do it to understand what products our customers will want, what customers will need (weather the know it or not) and the why of “why is this better than that online thingy.”
Truth be told, this will be my first significant bicycle event I’ll be attending as a retailer instead of a media reporter. Because of that my focus will be a bit different. But if you have things in particular you’d like me to check out, let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to ensure that particular product or service is on my itinerary of vendors to visit.
And if you’re going too – see you at the 2014 Interbike.