My ability to find time to play on the computer has been cut back dramatically in the last few weeks. The bike shop has picked up. Since I am attempting to run it completely solo this season, I am putting in more time to make up for the lack of hired help. I have not put as much thought or effort into the blog recently. Seems my mind is into a different mode at the moment. The Business mode. Creativity is needed, but on different wavelengths than I use when diddlin and fiddlin on this blog.
I can never remember which side of my brain is the creative side and which is the get er done side. Two weeks ago though, the side I used then is definitely not the side I am using now. Thoughts do not wander off the reservation as much as they did a short while ago. I have the Loose Dog leashed to the sled and we're mushing it. So far, we seem to be holding our own.
I am now into my eleventh season at CRUM Cycles. I am absolutely amazed I have made it this far. Conventional wisdom says one should have at least $75,000 to start a bike shop. $100,000 would be even better. Proof I guess of the tired old saying, "It takes money to make money". In late 1998, I had maybe $2000 in bike parts, maybe $3000 dollars in tools, and a determination to give the bike business one more good shot before I gave it up.
I found a location in need of renovations. I found a bank willing to loan me $25,000 dollars. My future landlord would give me a break on the rent for the labor I invested in the renovations. The bank would give me 7 years to pay back the $25K. Full of myself, I was sure I could make this happen and in five years not be a renter, but an owner. In five years, my business would be debt free. That was the plan anyway.
My five year business plan was shot in the butt in the year following 9/11. Starting in 2002, our local economy began an odd cycle. I think it was that long ago we began a slow slide to where we are today. I only say this because that is when I began to have trouble at the bike shop. My speculation of future sales and the resulting purchases I made to meet them created a negative cash flow situation that I have not recovered from completely since. My purchases were not based on unrealistic projections. They were actually quite conservative. Yet my pre-season commitments at that time were too much for the business environment that followed. My shop has been limping along for basically the last 7 years as I am constantly playing catch up for the past due bills of the previous year. Had I been smart or less hard headed, I would have bailed in 2004. Cut my losses and found something else to do for a paycheck.
What I shoulda, coulda done is beside the point. I am here now with whatever bed I have made for myself these last 10 years. I still enjoy doing what I do, fixing bikes, selling parts, and talking about bikes with the wackos who ride them. But it has become harder to stay enthusiastic as each year pans out like the previous one. I am the captain of a ship taking on more water than the bilge pumps can pump out. I am still afloat, but with each passing summer, I sit lower in the water than I did before.
All of this soul baring is really just a notification of sorts. I am one more time going to focus all of my faculties on saving my business. One more time I will attempt to keep my shop from crashing on the rocks or just going down in heavy seas. So expect my visits to other blogs to be seldom. I will try to post here as often as possible. This writing thing is a wonderful release for me. But bear with me and don't take it personally if I am not the frequent visitor I used to be. More important shit is going on and I need to pay attention to it. But I will drop in from time to time. Right now, on this Easter Sunday, I am headed down to the shop to fix a couple of bikes for next week.
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