Random thoughts, ideas, and suggestions for a profitable motorcycle shop

Discussion in 'Alaska' started by JagLite, Nov 15, 2014.

  1. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    7,456
    Location:
    Anchorage Alaska
  2. Kodachrome64

    Kodachrome64 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2015
    Oddometer:
    142
    Location:
    Anchorage Alaska
    So i bought my first motorcycle last year... and promptly dropped it. So i needed a new clutch lever. I went to cycle world and was told straight up that my bike being more than 10 years old cannot be serviced. for the honda dealer to tell me under no circumstance would they ever work on my honda even to change the oil or do something required no bike specific parts. They flat out said they will never touch the bike.

    I will never buy anything from them.
  3. Tom S

    Tom S Can I ride it? Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2004
    Oddometer:
    5,326
    Location:
    Anchorage Alaska
    Most all motorcycle dealers will not work on 10 year old bikes. They still should have been able to get you a clutch lever for you to put on yourself.
  4. KHud

    KHud Survivor Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    4,473
    Location:
    The Outpost, Silver City, Montana
    Sounds like you've reached what is called a mutual understanding, because it doesn't appear they are in a hurry to sell you anything either.
  5. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    7,456
    Location:
    Anchorage Alaska
    I just found out about this place in Eureka CA:

    http://www.blacklightningmotorcyclecafe.com/

    I will be riding through there on my trip north to Alaska in 10 days.
    So I will stop in to eat and check them out.

    Lots of things look good on the menu but I am not ordering The Hodaka! :huh
  6. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    7,456
    Location:
    Anchorage Alaska
    What a place...

    The Black Lightning Motorcycle Cafe' is EXACTLY the kind of place I would love to have here in Anchorage.

    Absolutely stunning :clap

    I stopped in on the first day of my ride back to Anchorage to have breakfast.

    Unbelievable...

    This place is near perfect.

    First, you have motorcycle only parking right in front of the glass window wall so your bike is in plain sight and safe even loaded with gear:

    [​IMG]

    There are tables and chairs to sit outside if you want:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Then as you step inside you come to:

    [​IMG]

    Imagine that, a place to park your helmet.
    Must be motorcycle riders that opened this shop...
    And the other side of the wall is cubbies to put your back pack or tank bag (as I did).

    [​IMG]

    Very smart! :clap

    Ok, you are in the door and have parked your helmet and anything else you don't want to carry around... so let's check the place out:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    See the flat screen TV up on the wall (right rear)?
    Motorcycle movies & videos always playing, make a request and sit to watch it.

    I had told my brother and his wife about going here for breakfast and after looking at the website they decided to take a half day off work to join me for breakfast:

    [​IMG]

    They were also VERY impressed and said they will stop in every time they go to Eureka now.

    The food was fantastic, the coffee was excellent, and the atmosphere was perfect. :wings

    [​IMG]

    They have bikes for sale as well as bikes on display.
    This is a bit weird but some people like them:

    [​IMG]

    They sell riding gear, boots, leathers, helmets, etc.

    [​IMG]

    They also order anything online for you with no shipping charges and if it isn't right, they ship it back for exchange or refund at no cost to you and no hassle.

    They organize movie nights at the local theater that is only two blocks away too.

    They host motorcycle shows, rides starting and/or ending at BLMC for food, fun, and friends.

    This place is so exactly why I started this thread that I can hardly believe it. :eek1

    It is possible to have a place where you want to stop in regularly to see what's going on, who has been in, what's new, and get a great cup of coffee or some food and talk with other riders doing the same thing.

    I only bought one T-shirt while I was there and I was very pleased to see the reasonable prices on everything.
    High quality T-shirt with their logo was only $22.
    Unlike some trendy bike stores that sell their logo Tees for $65!
    (Some people must buy them... :puke1)

    The owners are fantastic people who love what they are doing and they are doing it RIGHT!

    If only we had this shop here :cry
    I would be spending money there regularly, happily! :clap
  7. Dusty_Bottoms

    Dusty_Bottoms Adventurer Ordinaire

    Joined:
    May 8, 2011
    Oddometer:
    977
    Location:
    Fort Collins, CO
    Looks very nice. Something for the whole family too. Do you suppose they're profitable? I sure hope so. How long have they been in business?
  8. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    7,456
    Location:
    Anchorage Alaska
    Yes, they are doing well. And they are enjoying it very much.

    They opened in October 2013.

    At first they only had coffee and muffins but riders were asking for sandwiches and other food so they expanded the kitchen and menu.
    The biggest challenge is relatively few people know about them (other than the locals).

    I talked with many riders at camp grounds, gas stations, and cafes along my trip and no one had heard of them, and two even rode through Eureka on the way to Alaska.

    I was there on their slowest day/time, Monday morning early so the owners were able to visit with me for a few minutes until more of the regulars started to arrive and the place got busy.

    They have subscriptions to various mc magazines and just like your doctor's office you can sit and read the magazines while you have your coffee.
  9. aalexander

    aalexander Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2013
    Oddometer:
    774
    Location:
    Anchorage
    Is it realistic to think that a very narrowly themed business like that could succeed in Anchorage?

    Eureka isn't all that big, but it is within a day's ride for somewhere north of 10 million people, and it's located along a popular coastal touring route. (I've been though there twice on driving tours) How many people live within a day's ride of Anchorage? 0.45 million, give or take? Is that going to support business like that targeted at a specific enthusiast group?

    Don't get me wrong, it's a very cool business, but Anchorage is a different planet than Eureka.
  10. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    7,456
    Location:
    Anchorage Alaska
    Good point!

    I am hoping that one, or more, of our existing shops will use some of the things Black Lightning is doing to add to their existing business to increase the cash flow.

    I agree that a new shop like BLMC opening here would have a tough time and might not make a go of it.
    Opening any new business is an extremely risky thing to do.

    But our existing shops could learn a lot from BLMC and we would all benefit.

    A place where almost every person that comes through the door will buy SOMETHING, even if only a cup of coffee.

    Imagine, a bike shop that has a safe place to put your helmet?
    Places you can sit and relax before spending more money?
    A shop that will order anything for you online from any of the big web based stores, at no extra cost?
    Sure, we order our own stuff online and get it shipped to our door, but if we could do that at a shop we liked to stop in regularly it just gives us a good reason to drop in to make an order, or pick one up.

    I want our existing shops to improve, to make us happy to spend our money at, and to keep them in business.

    The shops have to make a profit to stay in business!
    But I seldom buy anything when I stop by since they don't have what I want on the shelf, or I was just looking at the bikes.
    They make zero money from me...
  11. Alaskahack

    Alaskahack Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    773
    Location:
    Wasilla
    I stopped in there last summer it is a real neat place.
  12. skierd

    skierd Wannabe Far-Rider

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,394
    Location:
    Fairbanks, AK
    So you want a cafe and coffee shop that sells tshirts, a few bits of riding gear, and have a few random custom bikes for sale? It's a cool idea, I wish we had one here, but it's not a dealership.

    What *new* motorcycles does this shop sell? Do they do service bikes too?
  13. ThatGuy

    ThatGuy Brownie

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2006
    Oddometer:
    10,210
    Location:
    Anchorage, Alaska
    How about just adding that to a dealership? Once word spreads of a cafe you'll get even guys out for the day to stop in even for a cup of coffee. That then leads to a sell. I'm sure it's not that easy but the concept would be neat.
    JagLite likes this.
  14. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    7,456
    Location:
    Anchorage Alaska
    I just ran across these pictures of a bike gear place in Germany

    [​IMG]

    You can sit outside on nice days and have a coffee or munchies and talk with friends new and old while watching bikes come and go


    [​IMG]

    Or you can sit inside and do the same :beer


    [​IMG]

    You can try on gear in nice dressing rooms, or just admire the women...

    But the neatest thing I saw, is to help you decide on which helmet you want to buy:

    [​IMG]

    A wind tunnel with bike! :wings What a great idea that is! :thumb

    The fan is controlled by the throttle and goes up to 70 mph or so.
    That way you can find out how loud the helmet is and how much wind resistance change there is when you turn your head.

    Recently I was chasing an odd noise on my bike for days that sounded like the speedo cable needing to be lubed.
    I had to take way too many parts off to get to the speedo cable end to lube it, only to have no improvement.
    Turned out it was the visor on my helmet at a certain opening. :hmmmmm

    Here is Round The World Doug trying out the wind tunnel the Biker Way:

    [​IMG]

    If we could just get a dealer to follow the examples of various NON-dealer shops where riders WANT to stop by regularly and hang out, and then spend some money there... :scratch
  15. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    7,456
    Location:
    Anchorage Alaska
    And here is another neat bike shop/hangout:
    http://thebikeshed.cc/cafebarshopclub/

    Hopefully more dealers will see the advantages to making their shop a destination that riders want to go to regularly, hang out, and spend money.

    I think only the HD shop here in town even has chairs for customers to sit down in for a few minutes to remember other things we "need" to buy.
  16. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    7,456
    Location:
    Anchorage Alaska
    Another neat shop was mentioned on New Atlas.

    This is a great way to do it, start out with lots of money and collect bikes you like, then share them with others by making your shop a museum.
    Then make it a great destination by having a cafe' so people can go there to eat and look at neat bikes.
    As long as you have mechanics working on your own bikes, might as well open the shop to work on other people's bikes.
    And to keep it from getting stagnant, rotate what bikes and displays are shown so there is always new things to admire.
    Might as well sell bikes too so you can buy other neat bikes, and as long as you are selling your own used bikes, why not become a dealer for a brand you like...

    Yep, an ideal shop that everyone would love, and all it takes is a rich person to pay for it all until after a few years it might start making a profit.

    HERE'S THE ARTICLE ON NEW ATLAS

    HERE'S THE SHOP WEBSITE

    [​IMG]

    What neat things do you see in the picture above?
    Dogslobber likes this.
  17. Drunk_Uncle

    Drunk_Uncle Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2009
    Oddometer:
    3,435
    Location:
    Boerne, TX
    The Honda shop in Mannhiem Germany has a great cafe complete with clock with red/white Death's head. Weird seeing HA decals on every company vehicle of a Honda dealer.
    JagLite likes this.
  18. akrider

    akrider mild adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2003
    Oddometer:
    1,847
    Location:
    Anchorage, Ak
    Ok That log cabin in the parking lot The Motorcycle Shop might be a good place to start. Now somebody just needs to work out a rental agreement, stock it, buy the required kitchen equipment, get a food handlers permit........you get the idea. Oh it may only be a good idea in the warmer months.
    Andrewmc, JagLite and keith in alaska like this.
  19. KHud

    KHud Survivor Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    4,473
    Location:
    The Outpost, Silver City, Montana
    Noch ein Pils, bitte!!!
  20. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2004
    Oddometer:
    9,131
    Location:
    Anchorage, formerly Spenard (hub of the universe)
    work on trying to not suck