- the rudiments of running a business,
- the mechanics of selling or wrenching motorcycles,
- how to purchase at Italian fashions at wholesale,
- the complexities of maintaining an Italian wine list,
- Italian cooking in general, and, clearly,
Thursday, April 26, 2012
THE BIKE SHOP IN THE SHOPPING MALL: BULLY OF A BUSINESS PLAN!
I like motorcycles. My wife likes dresses. We both like eating out now and then. Especially Italian. And ever since our trip to Italy six years ago, she loves gelato.
I visit motorcycle shops on the road both as a respite from the seat and for a chance to talk bike and drool over inventory. Pretty much invariably, motorcycle shops are stand alones in areas that may be slightly more industrial than commercial. The chances of someone simply walking by and stopping in a bike shop seem slim.
My wife will sashay into a Nordstrom or a Macys without any provocation what so ever. In smaller towns, no dress boutique is safe. I wander in with her, hang for a few minutes and then slip quietly out the door looking for a nice cigar store and hoping beyond hope that she’ll not find something to her liking. (This conveniently ignores mathematics pointing out that the female could buy a hell of a lot of nice outfits for the cost of the male’s $17,000 scooter.)
Since purchasing the Guzzi last year – and having scant knowledge about the sparsity of dealerships for the marque and seeing more and more retail space lay fallow – this thought has germinated: What if Joe Motorcycle Dealer placed a Guzzi showroom in a small shopping center that already supported (or had space available for) a dress boutique, a fancier pizza palace, perhaps a nicer ristorante, and a gelato bar? It’d be very cool if a Fiat/Alpha Romeo Studio popped up near by. Instead of being on some main drag on the outskirts of town next to an electrical parts supplier or a mini-storage, or an RV lot, the cycle shop would be near something of interest to those not so interested in cycles.
So while Mom is checking out shoes and skirts and singing like Maria from Westside Story, Dad could be sizing up a nice Griso SE or a Norge or a V-7 Classic dreaming of the open road and/or his misbegotten youth. Add a Piaggio group scooter brand, and when Mom comes in to scoop up Dad, he could say, “Honey, set those bags and boxes down by the door and settle in on that little LX 150. You’d sure look cute on it.” (Dad might consider substituting younger, slimmer, or even more beautiful depending on his personal chutzpa/confidence quotient.) After some back and forth, he could suggest pizza, or perhaps lasagna and some field greens with a little Chianti while he continues to coo about how simply stunning she looked on the Vespa.
One thing would naturally lead to another and either there would be a divorce or Dad would follow Mom’s Corolla home astride a new black V-7.
I’d implement this bullet-proof business plan myself except that I know virtually nothing about:
Quite recently, my wife slipped into a Macy’s in an aging mall in downtown Sacramento. We were on our way to Old Town for dinner. Just down the concourse, “The Power Sports Store” had replaced an ill-fated imported-furniture store. It seems, the good folks at Elk Grove PowerSports had already seized on my concept, placing a Triumph / Vespa / Aprilia / Guzzi / Ski-doo / Sea-doo showroom in the heart of a general shopping center. Genius, I thought. Simply Genius.
(Turns out the bikes and watercraft on display are sold out of the company’s Elk Grove location – the better for safe traffic-less test-drives, etc. But the concept of man entering mall shop stuffed with shiny road hardware and gear seems very solid to me.)
Drawn like a kid to a Toys R Us, I entered and left, minutes later, with something labeled Giubbino umo col. Ne TESTA DI MORO. The price was less than I’d seen listed anywhere I’d looked for the item and, on top of that, it hung from the 30% off rack. How could I resist?
Moments later, I marched back up the concourse with my new Moto Guzzi-badged, summer-weight, leather jacket only to find my wife exiting Macy’s empty-handed.
Dinner was very quiet that evening.
Resources: Elk Grove Powersports (nice folks, good reviews from customers, great inventory): http://www.egpowersports.com/
Church of the Open Road Press