Review of Cardiff Saddle--Good so far. Keep in mind the shape is that of a racing saddle, if you don't have your bars at least two inches lower than your saddle it probably isn't right for you. I rode 42 miles on the saddle Sunday and felt good. I'm trying not to let the fact that the saddle is drop-dead gorgeous bias my review. I'll have something more extensive after I've put some more miles on mine.
Time: I don't have any of it. I get into work at 9 or 10 and go-go-go until 6 when I come home to eat and spend some time with my wife and son. When he's asleep I either go back up to shop or do computer work at home. I feel like I need to work fourteen hours a day everyday, which I can't do it without being a bad father and husband. Consequently, things like the website and the blog, which are very important, keep getting pushed into the background and neglected.
Good things: Lots more locals stopping into the shop. Buying components, coming by for repairs, having me fix up (or help them fix up) old frames. There is a solid contingent of people in downtown Wilmington who ride their bikes everyday and use them as primary transportation, which is very exciting. I still don't have complete bikes, but right now I don't have many people who come in looking for complete bikes. I do have my eye on a good bike for basic transportation (internal 3 speed hub, stock rack and fenders) that would sell for $320--a Model T bicycle if you will. I'll get a few of those as soon as I can. Gross revenues are up . . .
Bad things: . . . revenue up but not enough profit. This is probably my fault. When sales are good I order more product to build up the inventory. This is good as long as the business still makes money, bad if we have more inventory but aren't clearing enough to stay in business. Also, increases in local business bite into the time that I can devote to building up the mail-order/internet side of the business, which is frankly much more lucrative.
My out of town customers are a dream to deal with. They're smart, polite, and understand that you get what you pay for and are willing to pay for quality and knowledgeable service. (If you're the grammar police beware I endorse the serial comma and will continue to use it.) I often think that my unusual business would have a better chance to survive and thrive if I primarily focused on the specialty customers. But at heart I'm a localist. I want to help the riders in my area. I want more bicycles on the streets of Wilmington, I want to help people who use their bicycles as transportation in my neighborhood and city, and I can't see being in business and not making myself available to the locals.