Survival is determination for a moment longer
– Charlie Horse
When I was going through bootcamp in the Marines, I’ll never forget what my one Drill Instructor said: “There is no job in the Marines more important than another. I’m in supply ladies, you know what that means? It means when the 03’s are on the front lines and need ammo,it’s my job to get it to them. If my truck is blown up, I will carry the ammo on my back. If my legs are shot out from under me, I will put what I can on my back and use my arms to craw. If they shoot my arms off, I will put what I can between my teeth and crawl on my belly like a snake. I will use every ounce of strength it takes to do my job and get those Marines the ammo they need. And if they kill me, there will be another Marine behind me who will take my load up front.”
For some reason those words really stuck with me. If Sgt Studebaker is still alive and reading this, you were more than just a supply type. You made an impression early on in this young Marines career that it’s team work that wins wars and conflicts, not individuals. Everyone has a job to do and if you take your job as your sole ambition in life,you will have done your part in the bigger picture.
I see a lot of shops struggling today whereas just a few years ago they were thriving. Times have changed. I won’t name any of the shops that I know are having a tough go of it now, but suffice to say nearly all are suffering to some degree or another. The easiest thing to do is close up shop, sell off any equipment and and a job at a factory or as an Amazon delivery driver.But bikers, like the military to some degree, are not quitters. If they have to turn swords into plowshares to make ends meet, they do. In order to survive, they may have to make difficult and gut retching decisions,like laying off workers, cutting production, down sizing or finding a day time job to help pay the bills as they continue to work at the craft they love and do so well.
I see much the same struggle in the gun shop, and at the WorldHeadquarters as well. A guy comes in and wants to buy a Bulls Eye Super-Dooper handgun as seen in this month’s Guns Galore. I look up the price from my wholesaler away from his prying eyes and it’s $500.So I tell him I can sell it to him for
$530, my typical markup on guns.He looks shocked and asks if that’s the best I can do because he can get it down at Sister Guns for $450.
How can that be? Well, no one ad heres to the MAP, MinimumAdvertised Pricing Agreements and price merchandise any way they want. A first tier buyer, the ones who drop a couple of million dollars a year on a particular manufacturer,gets prime pricing and will buy theBulls Eye Super Dooper gun for$390 instead of my third tier price of $400. So he can sell it at $450 and still make $50 on the sale. I just tell the customer to buy it there.
Ironically these customers come in and “want to help the small shops”so they look at a gun and want to buy it from me but want to know how low I can go. Hell, if you really want to help the small shops don’t barter,just pay the marked price. Small shops are less likely to price gouge you but hell, we are getting price gouged by the wholesalers.
I was talking to my friend the other day and we were talking about this very subject. He said he experiences the same thing I do except he sees Amazon as a huge culprit in keeping him competitive.A guy will bring a bike in for repair and wants to buy all the necessary parts off of Amazon or eBay then have my friend just charge labor for the installation of parts. Then to make matters worse, he expects my friend to stand behind the parts he bought off Amazon/eBay. What kind of crap is that?
We here at The Horse have had to make some very tough decisions in order to survive. The vast majority of you not only understand but have offered to help which is greatly appreciated and believe me, we are taking names! Thanks and you know who you are.
If we were to look at this industry as our industry and not just a collection of retailers, then maybe asa culture, as a community, we could pull together and help everyone survive these rough times. Friends don’t ask friends for free parts or discounts. If your friend offers, that’s one thing, but to ask your friend for free parts or below market value cost brings into question the value of your friendship. If your friend lists a part for $100, and he offers you the part for $80, thank him and when you pay at the check out, give the checkout person $110 and tell him not to tell your friend. That way your friend thinks he helped you and did him a favor unbeknownst to him.That’s what real friends do. And yes, I have done that many times at my friends shop here near me.
Taking what my Drill Instructor said, there is no job more important than another. In order for this industry to survive, bike shops,who are on the front line, need our support. Bringing your bike to them is what keeps them going. Buying from them at retail cost, being loyal to them and keeping them alive will help keep this industry alive. In turn,you’d be surprised what these shops will do for you when you need help.Times are indeed hard right now. But the strong will survive. Just hang in there with determination and will to win.