Friday, December 16, 2005

A call to retailers;

Here it is late at night on a Friday evening and I still can't get myself to "shut off" and head to bed and put this long, long week behind me. If it's any consolation, I am at least having a glass of wine.

The threads of conversation started this week by Tim Grahl's post and my follow-up post regarding the future of bike shops and then a couple of "off line" conversations I've had has gotten me thinking again. I apologize in advance if I suddenly drift off into gibberish.

I feel that there is the potential need to create a retailer driven and focused forum, similar to this one, to discuss all of the challenges that face retailers in the market today. From the little shops to the big shops, all retailers face a number of challenges ranging from hiring and affording good staff to competing with big box stores or battling against a dwindling market. There are numerous areas of discussion that I see could be of great value to retailers.

Here are my questions and my offer to the retailers who visit already and the ones who I hope will start coming;
Questions
1) Do you see or feel a need for such a blog forum as mentioned above?
2) Would you participate in one?
3) Would you be willing to be a regular contributor?
4) Would you be willing to help maintain and keep such a blog forum operating?
Offer
I will set up and build the blog forum, moderate it and contribute to it if there is enough interest. I will work to get other manufacturers and suppliers to participate or answer questions as well.

Maybe I'm just tired and need a good night's sleep, but all of the recent discussion seems to point to the potential for such a blog to exist.

If you're interested, drop me a line at tjackson at masibikes dot com (have to spell it like that to keep the spammers at bay) or post a comment here.

Ok, I'm going to bed now.

Tim

Posted by Tim Jackson at 9:08 PM

6 Comments

  1. Anonymous Carlton Reid posted at 7:14 AM  
    Why a blog and not a forum, Tim? I ask because these sort of 'where are we going' views are expressed often on the trade-only forum of BikeBiz.com.

    Is that a draw-back? Trade only? In many ways it's seen as a benefit...by the bike shops commenting.

    I don't hang out at the bicycleretailer.com forum (I left when it was closed for a while) but that's also a trade-only place for such views, yes?
  2. Blogger Fritz posted at 8:50 AM  
    I don't know if yet-another-forum is a solution or not, but I see a lack of imagination in the bike retail arena when it comes to promotion not only bike shops but bicycling in general.

    Bike shop owners seem primarily to be cycling enthusiasts first and business owners second. The shop is almost a hobby more than a source of income.

    Regarding a couple of new shops locally, one bike shop employee remarked "I guess we'll see whose trust fund runs out first."

    There's nothing wrong with any of that, but the result is little interest or experience in promotion and marketing.

    There's a ton of creativity and energy in the bike business but a lot of it is wasted.

    Check out this video for example. It's a bike shop owner playing with fire and it's kind of funny and it will get some exposure over the Internet. The creator makes a couple of critical errors, however -- he didn't put his bike shop website URL somewhere in the video, and he doesn't provide a way to easily find his videos -- you have to just know where they're at.

    He's throwing away a perfectly good chance for viral opportunity because he created the videos just for fun during some slow time at his shop.
  3. Blogger Tim Jackson- Masi Guy posted at 8:18 AM  
    Fritz/ Carlton-
    You are both absolutely right to question whether another forum or blog is needed. I'm not sure and I'm not sure which format is needed or best to accomplish the goal.

    My initial thinking about this whole thing is based upon feedback I've received since creating this project here as well as the feedback I have received since this past March when I started Masiguy. Many retailers have commented to me about how they enjoy the open dialog that gets started by my posts or the posts from my co-conspirators here. Jonathan Maus, over at Just Riding Along, was trying to create discussion as well and it was working.

    My idea is this; by giving retailers a space to talk, maybe they will. An "open to the public" blog or other forum might curb some folks from participating, especially in regards to anything related to pricing issues, but many retailers might see it as a chance to "show off" their intelligence or philosophies. Plus, if the public/ consumers have a chance to participate in the conversation, maybe retailers can reach right out to the people who will ultimately be walking through their doors with wads of money in their fists. I could be way off base on this and won't be hurt if I am, since I offer all of this up as something of a public service. Even if I were not a manufacturer in this industry, I would want to find a way to help retailers stay alive. I started working in shops when I was 12 years old and have come close to trying to open my own shop several times since then. My heart will always have a spot for retail, so I will always have a desire to work with retailers.

    Fritz- Somebody has to find out who that retailer is who made those videos and get him to make more and put his name on them. He is missing out on a huge pay off- financially or just in terms of good publicity.
  4. Blogger Fritz posted at 11:57 AM  
    Tim asked: Somebody has to find out who that retailer is who made those videos and get him to make more and put his name on them.

    That would be Jared Gibson of Racer Cycle Service in Provo.
  5. Anonymous Jeff Rowe posted at 9:49 AM  
    1) It could be useful, I don't see an urgent need for one.
    2) Yes.
    3 irregular
    4) Yes.
    I like this format better than forums - a little moderation goes a long way, and the posts are generally thought through a lot further before they go live.
    Maybe that will go away as the community gets bigger on any particular blog.
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