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Bike shops are closing

Old 01-12-19, 04:38 PM
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rousseau
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Bike shops are closing

Crikey.

How millennials have put a spoke in the wheels of Britain’s bicycle shops
Youngsters say cycling is ‘too scary’, bike sales are static and stores are closing, as highlighted by James Corden last week

Across the country, cycle shops that have been a regular fixture of their local high streets for decades are closing down in their droves. The bikebiz website regularly tracks closures, compiling an increasingly long list of names. In the last couple of years many illustrious shops have disappeared, including the 105-year-old Ben Hayward Cycles in Cambridge and M Steel Cycles on Tyneside, which had been trading since 1894. In November, the oldest bike shop in Bath, Johns Bikes, which had been trading since the Seventies and once had a turnover of £1m a year, closed.

The decline of high street bike shops, at a time when people are being encouraged to be healthier and to reduce their car use, reflects a wider problem: despite millions of pounds being spent in recent years promoting cycling, the number of people using bikes has remained largely static.

In 2017, 14% of respondents to a national survey said they cycled at least once a week. One fifth also said they cycled, but less often than that. Two out of three, though, reported that they cycled less than once a year, or never. Those figures have hardly changed since 2003, according to Cycling UK, largely because the younger generation think cycling “is too scary”.

https://www.theguardian.com/business...-shop-closures
What happened to the hipster cycling boom of the naughts? I caught the cycling bug around 2006 as a 40-year-old, and it's been an abiding passion ever since. Though for me, it was the fact that my 65-year-old dad was out cycling that really turned me onto it, as I was (and still am) a desk jockey looking for a way to exercise, and the idea of riding a bike suddenly became an "a-ha" moment. I soon graduated to a proper road bike and nurtured a medium-boil interest in European racing that I've maintained to this day.

The two bike shops in my small city in southern Ontario seem to be surviving, as best I can tell. Don't know if the UK situation is mirrored on this side of the pond at all? One thing I have noticed anecdotally: there aren't as many colours for clincher tires out there any more, which I think is a sign that the fixie hipster thing is kinda over. I favoured the Contential GP4000 in white for many years for how it looked on my bike, but the GP4000 and GP5000 models are are black now. Makes me feel a bit sad.

I purposely buy consumables like tubes, lube and citrus degreaser at my LBS along with lots of two-figure impulse purchases throughout the year, not to mention a new mountain bike a couple years ago, but otherwise I get clothing and used Campy components online because there's simply no way the local mountain bike-focused guys swimming in Shimano are going to have anything I want. They tell me they make their living with service anyway, and are fine with fixing cheap department store bikes that invariably fall apart.

Since the cycling statistics in the story above haven't changed since 2003, I wonder if the hardships described therein are more a reflection of online buying patterns than a drop-off in cycling interest?
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Old 01-12-19, 04:44 PM
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Article is from Blighty...maybe an issue across the Pond? Here in the Mid-Atlantic US more bike stores are opening or expanding it seems. Only one to go out of business around here is Performance Cycle, and they're not a local chain.
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Old 01-12-19, 04:55 PM
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That's what I'm wondering, though. The UK is generally a lot more amenable to cycling than North America is, so why would shops be closing all of a sudden while they don't seem to be here?
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Old 01-12-19, 10:20 PM
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9 Bike stores have closed in my area (Broward and Palm Beach counties) in the last year: 7 Bike America stores and 2 Performance Bike stores (technically one is still open but is probably days away from locking up). In that same period of time, we have had one new store open here - Conte's.

These 9 stores probably represent about 20-25% of the total stores in these two counties (not really including Miami Dade county) and serve about 3.5 million people.

Not alot of choices here right now. Most of the remaining shops are sitting tight and none are really slammed with business. A totally different scene than 2 years ago.
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Old 01-12-19, 10:27 PM
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In the 80's regional bike shops still had their own frame building shops in the back . making decent steel frames., building bikes right there ..
now they too sell Imports. re-badged or dealers for the same brands as elsewhere..
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Old 01-13-19, 07:05 AM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by dbf909 View Post
9 Bike stores have closed in my area (Broward and Palm Beach counties) in the last year: 7 Bike America stores and 2 Performance Bike stores (technically one is still open but is probably days away from locking up). In that same period of time, we have had one new store open here - Conte's.

These 9 stores probably represent about 20-25% of the total stores in these two counties (not really including Miami Dade county) and serve about 3.5 million people.

Not alot of choices here right now. Most of the remaining shops are sitting tight and none are really slammed with business. A totally different scene than 2 years ago.
The 9 stores that closed represented 20-25% of the shops in your area.
Forgive my quick math but I calculate that leaves around 30 shops still open?
And you feel that doesn’t leave you a lot of choices?
Good stuff.
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Old 01-13-19, 08:32 AM
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"How millennials have put a spoke in the wheels of Britain’s bicycle shops"

So incomes have been stagnant since the 80s, prices on bicycles are reaching only-dentists-can-afford-them, retail in general is dying everywhere.....and all the economic causal factors make this situation the fault of "millenials". Got it.


Fire. Ready. Aim.
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Old 01-13-19, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by downhillmaster View Post

The 9 stores that closed represented 20-25% of the shops in your area.
Forgive my quick math but I calculate that leaves around 30 shops still open?
And you feel that doesn’t leave you a lot of choices?
Good stuff.
You are correct, there are still quite a few shops open in the two counties - probably closer to 20 than 30 now that I add them up.

However, there used to be 3 open shops within a 5 mile radius of where I live (probably about 200k people in that circle). Now there are none. 5 of the 9 that closed were within 10 miles of my house (750k population maybe). Now there are probably 3 shops left within that distance and they all are quite pricey now that there is no competition. I used to be able to run out to the local store(s) and pickup all sorts of things easily - I visited at all 3 of the closed shops at least once or twice a week and spent quite a bit of $ over the years. Now it is a commitment to drive 30-60 minutes each way to get anything at the remaining (closest 2 or 3) stores. Some of the remaining stores are 30-40 miles away. So yeah, the remaining choices are slim now in my area.

The same thing happened with music stores a while back. We had once 3 large stores (Mars, Guitar Center, and Sam Ash) as well as 4 or 5 smaller stores within 5 or 6 miles of my house and probably 20 total music stores in the two counties. As of about 10 years ago there is one large store left (Sam Ash) and one small store (Guitar Center small footprint). In that same time, the population in the 5-6 mile radius grew 10-15% and the two county population grew over 50%.

I live in a suburban town of 125k people that is mostly families with children age 0-18. We have one of the largest youth sports programs in the country (both city and private organizations). Yet until 3 years ago we did not have a big box sporting goods store anywhere in our town (Sports Authority(s) were about 7-10 miles away). I've lived here nearly 30 years and my kids, who were hugely involved in many sports, are grown now. They finally opened a Sports Authority about 4 years ago but it didn't last 6 months even though it was slammed all the time (corporate issues). Only 3 years ago did a Dick's Sports open up but lately it seems to be struggling as well.

There are a lot of pretty affluent folks with quite a bit of disposable income in my area yet these types of stores come and go - mostly gone in the last 5-10 years. The conclusions that I draw is that more folks are purchasing these types of "hobby" or "activity" items on line as the perception (and truth in many cases) is that the prices are far lower. They don't seem to consider or care about the value added when purchasing from a knowledgeable retail establishment.

I do purchase a lot of stuff on-line but nowadays it seems that a large chunk of it is due to the fact that I have no other options. Some of it is convenience since I don't want to drive up to an hour to buy a chain or a bottle of lube or some grip tape or whatever. But I actually miss the immediacy of being able to just go out and get what I need and not have to wait 2-3 days for it to be delivered. When I could drive 5-10 mins to get a pair of gloves or a bottle cage, I would pay a few extra dollars for the convenience. However, I won't pay more than double what I can get it for on-line IF I have to drive 30 mins to 1.5 hours each way to do so... And unfortunately, this seems to be my trade off these days.
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Old 01-13-19, 02:19 PM
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Interesting. You would consider your "area" to be places up to an hour's drive away? Wow. I wouldn't consider that local. Is this a Florida thing, or an American thing? In my experience in southern Ontario, "local" means walking distance, or maybe an easy ten-minute drive at most. Going 30-40 miles (50-70 km?) takes you to other towns and cities.

By that reckoning, within an hour's drive of me there are...<counts bike shops on Google Maps>...well over 40 bike shops. And that's not including Toronto and the Golden Horseshoe, where there are over a hundred. But I only consider the two in my small city to be "local" or "in my area." There actually are a couple of places in neighbouring cities within an hour's drive that I sometimes go to expecting to maybe pick something up that I might otherwise order online, run by guys who are fluent in Campagnolo.

And come to think of it, these places don't seem to be closing down like in the UK. From what I can tell, the lay of the land seems fairly stable.
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Old 01-13-19, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
So incomes have been stagnant since the 80s, prices on bicycles are reaching only-dentists-can-afford-them, retail in general is dying everywhere.....and all the economic causal factors make this situation the fault of "millenials". Got it.
This.
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Old 01-13-19, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
"How millennials have put a spoke in the wheels of Britain’s bicycle shops"

So incomes have been stagnant since the 80s, prices on bicycles are reaching only-dentists-can-afford-them, retail in general is dying everywhere.....and all the economic causal factors make this situation the fault of "millenials". Got it.Fire. Ready. Aim.
Yeah, nearly all of these "millenials are kill" articles would be more accurately written as "millenians not having any money is killing..."
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Old 01-13-19, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by dbf909 View Post
You are correct, there are still quite a few shops open in the two counties - probably closer to 20 than 30 now that I add them up.

However, there used to be 3 open shops within a 5 mile radius of where I live (probably about 200k people in that circle). Now there are none. 5 of the 9 that closed were within 10 miles of my house (750k population maybe). Now there are probably 3 shops left within that distance and they all are quite pricey now that there is no competition. I used to be able to run out to the local store(s) and pickup all sorts of things easily - I visited at all 3 of the closed shops at least once or twice a week and spent quite a bit of $ over the years. Now it is a commitment to drive 30-60 minutes each way to get anything at the remaining (closest 2 or 3) stores. Some of the remaining stores are 30-40 miles away. So yeah, the remaining choices are slim now in my area.

The same thing happened with music stores a while back. We had once 3 large stores (Mars, Guitar Center, and Sam Ash) as well as 4 or 5 smaller stores within 5 or 6 miles of my house and probably 20 total music stores in the two counties. As of about 10 years ago there is one large store left (Sam Ash) and one small store (Guitar Center small footprint). In that same time, the population in the 5-6 mile radius grew 10-15% and the two county population grew over 50%.

I live in a suburban town of 125k people that is mostly families with children age 0-18. We have one of the largest youth sports programs in the country (both city and private organizations). Yet until 3 years ago we did not have a big box sporting goods store anywhere in our town (Sports Authority(s) were about 7-10 miles away). I've lived here nearly 30 years and my kids, who were hugely involved in many sports, are grown now. They finally opened a Sports Authority about 4 years ago but it didn't last 6 months even though it was slammed all the time (corporate issues). Only 3 years ago did a Dick's Sports open up but lately it seems to be struggling as well.

There are a lot of pretty affluent folks with quite a bit of disposable income in my area yet these types of stores come and go - mostly gone in the last 5-10 years. The conclusions that I draw is that more folks are purchasing these types of "hobby" or "activity" items on line as the perception (and truth in many cases) is that the prices are far lower. They don't seem to consider or care about the value added when purchasing from a knowledgeable retail establishment.

I do purchase a lot of stuff on-line but nowadays it seems that a large chunk of it is due to the fact that I have no other options. Some of it is convenience since I don't want to drive up to an hour to buy a chain or a bottle of lube or some grip tape or whatever. But I actually miss the immediacy of being able to just go out and get what I need and not have to wait 2-3 days for it to be delivered. When I could drive 5-10 mins to get a pair of gloves or a bottle cage, I would pay a few extra dollars for the convenience. However, I won't pay more than double what I can get it for on-line IF I have to drive 30 mins to 1.5 hours each way to do so... And unfortunately, this seems to be my trade off these days.
Funny you mention music stores ( guitars) I was unable to find a local mom and pop place to buy new strings.
I have 3 good shos kinds near by all owned by the same fella good shop but limiting
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Old 01-13-19, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
Crikey.


What happened to the hipster cycling boom of the naughts? I caught the cycling bug around 2006 as a 40-year-old, and it's been an abiding passion ever since.
cycling's been my passion since the training wheels came off.....
Anywho - we had an major Ann Arbor, MI store close a few years ago. Not so much to do with the economy as the owner..... sprinted headlong into marital issues and the creditors came to collect his inventory when bills were going unpaid ~ at least that's the rumor I was told, so I will leave it at that.
My LBS, which I am happy to name: Sweet Bikes ~ puts a lot of effort into maintaining a loyal customer base: Pot luck dinners / after hours parties; discounts for those of us afflicted with the Classic & Vintage disease who are in need of parts; "tool rental" for chasing & facing theads; a bike shop owner who actually rides (and races!). That kind of stuff.
Lots of work into maintaining the business. Kind of old school. It's not a boutique-y shop, where you feel like you cannot hang out for a bit. Instead there are shop-cats!

I think it's that kind of thing that will say whether a shop makes it with bikes-direct stuff out there now a days or not.

2 cents and not worth it
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Old 01-13-19, 05:44 PM
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I would like to see how the other stores are doing. I mean the stores that carry bikes as well as other outdoor things. I call to mind REI and Dick's. Are these types doing lower bike sales volume?

Then there's the online shopping. Bikes are different than accessories, parts, and clothing. Bikes are more or less a durable good. Maybe consumers are holding off on new bikes.

Are bike manufacturers now offering online purchases? This will take away the local bike shop business.
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Old 01-13-19, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Garfield Cat View Post
I would like to see how the other stores are doing. I mean the stores that carry bikes as well as other outdoor things. I call to mind REI and Dick's. Are these types doing lower bike sales volume?

Then there's the online shopping. Bikes are different than accessories, parts, and clothing. Bikes are more or less a durable good. Maybe consumers are holding off on new bikes.

Are bike manufacturers now offering online purchases? This will take away the local bike shop business.
They more or less are not, on the low end. Poorly built wheels, bikes poorly or improperly assembled bikes by dept store workers who don't know what they are doing, and so on. The are particularly not durable when left out in the elements and not maintained, which is most all bicycles everywhere.

Issue being there's no shortage of cheap nondurable crap deliverable right to your front door. One of my coworkers, is on his 5th or 6th crappy GMC bike he got of Amazon--in 5 or 6 years. It is cheaper to keep buying them and throw them away when the bearings blow and the wheels self-taco than it is to take it somewhere to have it fixed or maintained....tried telling him not to, lots, keeps doing it.
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Old 01-13-19, 06:11 PM
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Cambridge:


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Old 01-13-19, 06:45 PM
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They have been opening in Philly over the last decade or so. And many that have been open for decades and doing well.
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Old 01-13-19, 07:51 PM
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I just know that lot's bike shops by me have closed. donno why, they had been open for quite some while, just suddenly ran out of business
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Old 01-13-19, 08:16 PM
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In my area the one that has been there for 35 yrs is stable and conservative(sometimes painfully thus). In the last year 2 other shops went out that were within 3 miles of that one. One had too much debt for inventory, the other didn't charge enough for his mostly used parts market when a Co-op went in next door(literally). Now even the co-op is selling for profit. The next nearest shops are a good 10 mi out and much less profitable. Market shifts to blame I think.
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Old 01-13-19, 09:33 PM
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I'm in the millennial age range and I've gotten such indifferent, poor service from local bike shops I wouldn't be bothered a whit if they all closed. I was dismayed that Performance Bike is going out of business and I would be sad if REI closed but some generic LBS I'd never go to anyway? I was amazed to find there's a LBS less than 2 miles from my apartment, never been and don't plan to. Would be a great place for a gastropub.
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Old 01-14-19, 02:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
"How millennials have put a spoke in the wheels of Britain’s bicycle shops"

So incomes have been stagnant since the 80s, prices on bicycles are reaching only-dentists-can-afford-them, retail in general is dying everywhere.....and all the economic causal factors make this situation the fault of "millenials". Got it.


Fire. Ready. Aim.
Yeah, it must be that ONLY millennials are responsible for this trend....Anyone who has availed themselves of a better deal online has had some tiny bit of responsibility in the general overall decline of retail- probably almost everyone of us. Hey, I tried to buy consumables and tools from my LBS, so as to keep them alive. It wasn't enough,; they closed anyway. I also think that REI has had an impact. They offer better quality products than the other big box stores, decent service as well as other outdoor equipment. There range of cycling products was often wider than most of the other LBS's I've been to. They had multiple offerings in each cycling type/price range.
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Old 01-14-19, 02:33 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
So incomes have been stagnant since the 80s, prices on bicycles are reaching only-dentists-can-afford-them, retail in general is dying everywhere.....and all the economic causal factors make this situation the fault of "millenials". Got it.
Speaking as a wrinkly, white-haired old person, I'm actually rather sceptical of blaming the ills of the world on the young. It's not them who are to blame for vast disparities of income and wealth, or for the proliferation of SUVs in the cities. So I agree with much of this. Just one point, though. Bikes that tend to come with Ultegra or above may be priced for dentists, lawyers, and the other stock demons of idle conversation; but Tiagra and the bikes that come with it are perfectly good (I've just returned home from a hilly ride on such a bike), and I suspect that their price is a lower percentage of the mean monthly income of 25-year-olds now than the price of unglamorous 1980s bikes would have been back then. (The nineties and noughties are a bit of a blank to me. And the exact relationship would of course depend on where we're talking about.)
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Old 01-14-19, 08:18 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
In the 80's regional bike shops still had their own frame building shops in the back . making decent steel frames., building bikes right there ..
now they too sell Imports. re-badged or dealers for the same brands as elsewhere..
I think this is part of the reason..

I think many of these older bicycle stores in Europe / UK moved out to out-of-town "big box" locations, service was not as good as it used to be (being more "salespeople" rather than "bike shop mechanics") and pricing was more expensive than the supermarket big box stores (Decathlon, Carrefour and the likes). Next, when they couldn't compete on price for the big-name brands with the internet, what is left to go back to the bike shop for? Service and convenience had already been thrown out the window. Surely this does not account for every shop in every country, but this does seem to be how it went in some European countries.

You see the same thing with shopping malls and other big box retail closing down: the only thing they had going for them was price and convenience. But when the internet beat them on both, there was nothing to go back there for.

The only retail that survives in this day and age (in any industry) is quality, in-town, boutique, convenient, full-service shops. I am sure that if you were to own a boutique, full-service, custom (frame)build bike shop these days in a major city, the "millennials" and bike aficionados would be all over it. But if you sell the same stuff as the online stores, just more expensive, why would people shop at your shop?

Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
I'm in the millennial age range and I've gotten such indifferent, poor service from local bike shops I wouldn't be bothered a whit if they all closed. I was dismayed that Performance Bike is going out of business and I would be sad if REI closed but some generic LBS I'd never go to anyway? I was amazed to find there's a LBS less than 2 miles from my apartment, never been and don't plan to. Would be a great place for a gastropub.
As a millenial, I feel the exact opposite. I don't mind giving business to my good, independently run, and full-service local bike stores that are within biking distance of where I live (and there are two in my area that I really like). But if I have to go out to the suburbs to a big box store (such as REI or Performance Bike) where the staff are salespeople with less mechanical knowledge then myself, and with the same bikes as online shops, just more expensive. No thanks.
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Old 01-14-19, 10:12 AM
  #24  
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Surely some of the issue is demand (as the article assumes), but some may be an issue with costs. The cost of doing business (employment taxes, health insurance, & other laws, safety regulations, etc.) has gone way up over the past 20 years in the U.S. and elsewhere. And . . . if you're in a city that's booming, the cost of property taxes, rent, and real estate may also be driving the old line shops out. An example of a small business in Nashville -- a musical instrument shop -- the guy opened his family owned and operated shop in 1982. He bought his relatively tiny location in a very sketchy part of town for less than $70,000. Over the years, his part of town became trendy. His property taxes grew. Then, in the midst of a boom, developers decided they wanted his location for part of a 30-story condo development. His property taxes skyrocketed. He resisted. The city put heavy regulations on his location that would have required a big renovation investment. He kept his doors open. Until the developers offered him $7 million for his "postage stamp" location. He sold in a heartbeat. There's no mom-and-pop music store there anymore. Not because people in Nashville weren't buying musical instruments . . . because it became too expensive to operate there, anymore.
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Old 01-14-19, 05:51 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by JasonD67 View Post
Article is from Blighty...maybe an issue across the Pond? Here in the Mid-Atlantic US more bike stores are opening or expanding it seems. Only one to go out of business around here is Performance Cycle, and they're not a local chain.
You must be located in a bubble then. The industry here in the US is on heavy life support.
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