Bikes, Beer, Coffee, Food and...Pottery

November 8, 2012

Over the past year, I have noticed many bicycle retailers expanding their services to help differentiate themselves from their competitors. It's interesting that many are beginning to serve coffee, beer and even some food. We all know that bicyclists love GOOD coffee and GOOD beer, so it seems like an obvious additional revenue stream. But is this really a good idea? Bicycle shops often appeal to buyers by offering coffee or beer or some other items bicyclists usually like.

Generally, the restaurant business is not easy and it can blur your focus on your primary business - selling and repairing bicycles, accessories and parts. But while profit margins are not as great as you would think, it still may make sense for bike shops. Coffee, beer and food are good ways to get new customers in the door. If people get in the habit of stopping by their favorite bike shop for coffee, or a post-ride beer, they are likely to bring their friends. This is extremely important. Repeat customers are great, but how often do people buy a new bike? (A loaded question, I know. Just look in my garage.) Generally, most people don't buy a new bike every year so shops need to get new blood in their doors. And, people tend to spend more money after a beer. I have a friend who sells pottery in Door County, Wis. He is amazed how much product he sells after dinner. He says, "It's simple. People stop by my shop during the day and look. Often they like my pottery, but after dinner and a drink, they end up pulling the trigger and making large purchases.'

I'm not advocating getting your customer's drunk, by any means. But having a great social setting for your like-minded customers and prospective customers is a great way to make prospective customers feel comfortable, and it could lead to increased sales. However, keep in mind that there is some additional risk associated with selling alcohol. You should consider purchasing Liquor Liability insurance coverage, which protects your business against claims arising from over-serving alcohol. These claims tend to be associated with auto accidents caused by a drunk driver. Just my two cents, based on observing bicycle retailers who have been selling coffee, beer and food.