The Woes of Black Friday

As told by a small business owner:

This time of year always has me torn, being a cog in the wheel of consumerism.  It disturbs me to see other bike shops blowing out bicycles at 30, 40 and 50% off.  It happens every year and it frightens me to think how long that model has been standard operating procedure. 

There’s a finite market for “luxury” items in the United States, clearly.  When we flood the market with cheap inexpensive products I think we are on a sad path toward huge retailers wiping out small mom & pop businesses.  One might argue that we are now in the throes of a “Global Market” and it cannot be controlled.  I hope that’s not true, I hope we haven’t passed that tipping point. We’ve built our small family-owned business to try and survive, even thrive in a very competitive retail market.  This allows us to sell what we are passionate about, what we think are the best products on the market, regardless of the ever-increasing pressure to sell cheaper.

I have no idea how mid size shops can keep their doors open these days.  It seems that from a profit standpoint, the only way to offset overhead and shrinking margins is through huge volume.  The viscous cycle continues.

Who knows if we’re on the right track, but we do our best to not run sales cycle after sales cycle in the hopes of driving more customers through the door.  Our approach aligns with carrying quality merchandise from brands that are responsible in the marketplace.  That and we run very lean, with as little overhead as possible.  This was the first year we started “firing” brands for operating against the best interests of small retailers.  Thankfully we have the ability to make those types of decisions.  We carry many products and bicycles that are considered “heritage” quality, nice enough to pass along to your children.

More and more we face brands that are selling their parts in HUUUGE lots to online retailers.  The result becomes distributor pricing that can now be higher than online retail prices.  It’s pretty crazy to think that anyone would want to contribute to an overall reduction in their brand’s value like that.  It’s certainly happening more and more however.

I’m sure there are a lot of reasons for keeping the cash flow moving. The most obvious being that the largest market sectors are just trying to survive until the next quarter’s earnings. However, it seems to be at the detriment of quality, consistent availability and product support. 

If this interests you further you can read below.  With permission front Grant Petersen of Rivendell Bicycle Works, I’ve reprinted an article from 1999.   It describes, in detail, a crushing cycle that continues today.  16 years and we’re still whittling away at hopes for a decent standard of living.  I wonder how and when things will shift, for better or worse. 

A very very special thanks to our most loyal customers, you have no idea how much of a difference you make for small business owners.