Peddle Your Blues Away: Should Your Tackle Store Sell Bikes?

Making money in the tackle/sporting goods business can be challenging, to say the very least. Making money in our current COVID-19 environment is even more so.

The problems for the retailer are magnified by pressures exerted by competition, vendors, supply chain problems and by an ongoing margin squeeze. The tackle retailer might justifiably cry “help me!”

For the tackle/sporting goods retailer, this help can be found . . . with the common bicycle!

“Hold your flat tire, Bud, surely you are kidding me. We sell fishing tackle and other outdoor gear. Just how is the bicycle going to come to my rescue?” Well listen up and check your internet.

Right now, in this Coronavirus environment, the sales of bikes have skyrocketed. Particularly in the cities and suburbs, people have moved from mass transit and auto travel to bicycles. The demand is so great that for many bike shops, they have almost no inventory and product is snapped up upon arrival at the stores.

Tackle/sporting goods retailers selling bikes is not new. Just do a search on tackle stores selling bicycles and you will see quite a list of such retailers. In my own case our stores sold lots of tackle, sporting goods and bicycles . . . in fact, thousands of them.

Here are the positives for selling bikes: they take up relatively little store space since they can be displayed on double decker bike racks as well as outdoors. The per unit dollar sales is very high, from around $300 to $1,200 per unit. Performance bikes might sell for as high as $2,000.

While the profit margins are relatively low for bikes (usually under 20%), the gross margin dollars are high and the turn rate is really good. In addition to the bike sale itself, the accessory sales are fantastic with margins in the 40% range.

So, what’s preventing the tackle dealer from selling bikes? Currently, only two things: (1) “We are strictly tackle specialists” syndrome and (2) product availability. In the case of the latter, product will become available with some time and some leg work on the part of the dealer. Moreover, bikes can be direct imported rather easily.

Regarding the “we are specialist” syndrome, get over it. Right now, you need sales, margins and profits. Again, I invite you to visit the internet for tackle retailers who are specialists in fishing and bikes. They can’t make bank deposits with “specialists”. Banks only accept dollars and bike sales are fully compatible with fishing and sporting goods.

In terms of sales staff productivity, it takes almost the same amount of time to sell a consumer a rod and reel outfit with line and relevant accessories as it does to sell a good 10-speed bike. But the gross margin dollars garnered on the bike sale will dwarf that of the tackle sale.

Fishing tackle and sporting goods are great product categories and their sales of ancillary accessories enrich the bottom line. That said, consider adding some quality bicycle sales to your product mix, harvest these additional profit dollars and “Peddle Your Blues Away!”