Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Opportunity Knocks

A few times a year we (Peddler Bike Shop) get a call from someone at the University of Memphis who has lost their lock key and needs us to cut their lock or someone who is handicapped and needs us to change their flat tire. This past Saturday was the first time that I (though I'm sure there have been others) took a call from someone out on a ride with a flat tire and they wanted me to bring them a tube and change their flat.

A. We don't do that.
B. We don't do that, especially not on Saturday.
C. We don't do that, especially not on Saturday, even more so when we're short-staffed and there's a sale going on.

That's not to say that the Superman in me wouldn't love to get on my bike, race through Memphis streets to save an unprepared cyclist, because I would. But I have bigger responsibilities at the shop. Though I really love that you as the stranded cyclist are loyal to my shop even when my competitor is closer.

Fast forward to Tuesday when a customer and I are conversing about the aesthetics, anti-theft advantages and cargo capacities of Dutch bikes, bakfiets and "xtra-cycles" and she mentions that her husband and friend were on the greenline this past weekend and experienced a flat on a trail-a-bike. She relayed her idea for a mobile flat-fixing service. When I asked how much she would pay for such a service she said "$20. Most people when riding have a $20 bill on them." (paraphrased)

That implies, of course, tube and labor. At a shop you will pay about $6 for a tube, $6.60 with tax. Leaving you $13.40 for your labor. For a young high school or college kid with a love of cycling and free weekends you might be able to make some dough. Start-up costs would include several tubes in various sizes, a floor pump, sizes 13, 14, 15, and 17 wrenches preferred but an adjustable wrench would suffice, a few tire boots, and a backpack to carry everything. Then as you got established several different tires and a trailer to carry everything. So minimum would be about $100, after 8 jobs you could start making profit.

To be honest I'm not sure if the demand is fully there, but perhaps it's just because the service isn't available.

Then this customer and I started talking food carts: hot dogs, ice cream, gyros. That's a whole other post right there.


Planet MarTay said...

That's a good idea! Can't wait for the mobile food discussion. Now, that's my kind of conversation.

myshoeshurt said...

I wish someone did have this! When i first starting riding to school, i got a flat and had to walk my bike like 3 miles to class! Not only would a flat fix have been nice, but a gyro or hot dog to enjoy? perfection!

r2thekesh said...

Some guy did this in the college town I lived in. He was really nice and charged like $6 for a tube and $5 for him to come and fix it. You could even call him in class and by the time you got your bike, he would be done.