I am entering my 9th season here at CRUM Cycles. After 8 years as the typically under capitalized mom and pop operation I would say making it this far has been a real struggle.
When I started this shop, I wrote the obligatory business plan. I made rosy predictions about 10% growth per year. I anticipated being in a new location that I would own not rent in 5 years. And I was sure true happiness and contentment would be easy and I took them for granted.
It is time to take stock. Time to weigh my optimism then against my reality now.
The business plan became toilet paper by my 3rd season. The economic downturn in our area following 9/11 caught me with my pants down. Business dropped 20% that season while my payables increased 35% from the previous season. I was over extended and that sick feeling in my gut from my previous failing effort in the bike business began to creep into my soul.
Thankfully, the earlier failure also taught me some valuable lessons in survival. I tightend my belt, dug in and rode it out. But the local economy has not bounced back from the boomtown ride of the 90s. We seem to be in a kind of holding pattern here in Springvale, Maine. Folks spend money, but are much more cautious now. Especially with their discretionary dollars. I hear this is a nationwide trend. I can only speak to my own experience. Combine the negative pressures of Internet Sales, and these last 5 years have been tough.
But I am still here. I am still offering bikes and repairs to my small corner of the World. I have not caved and gone whimpering back to the yoke of working for another man. I am still my own man. And though the financial rewards may not be up to what I expected, I am content. I have what I want.