We are over two Weeks into September now and I am beginning to evaluate the year we had at the bike shop. All in all, the oddest year in my 11 seasons here in Springvale, Maine.
I may be a tad premature in reflecting on what has transpired these last 8 months. The traditional curve of the seasonal bike business has been turned on it's ear this year. Mud Season came late and stayed way past it's welcome. We lost June and July to 22 inches of rain consistently spread out over the 60 days or so. August was excellent. And two plus weeks into September, we have already surpassed last September by a long shot.
One year ago, I was sure CRUM Cycles would not be in existence much longer. I certainly did not expect to be here with my doors open in September, 2009. The shop had been struggling long before the big financial meltdown that visited us last year this time. Add the doom and gloom scenario scared up by so much World wide money disappearing overnight, and yeah, I had pretty much written off the bike shop.
Over last winter I fell into a deeper funk than I usually do when the Sun sits low and the days are only 8 hours long. I anguished over what I would do to make ends meet. I was 56 years old and had no skills other than driving trucks, pounding nails, or twisting wrenches on bicycles. All of which were fields hard hit by the layoffs that resulted from so many companies downsizing or going belly up.
Around February of this year, I came out of my shell and re-opened the bike shop. I had accrued some past due debt from the previous 3 years of struggling. Each ensuing summer was spent trying to pay off old debt and aquiring new debt to have to pay off the next summer. I had fallen into a bad routine for a small retail business.
I entered this year with two things in mind. Keep the doors open long enough to pay down as much debt as possible. And come Hell or high water I would not take on any new debt. If I ended the season by locking my doors, so be it. I would have at least given it one more good shot.
That was back in February. It is now September. Funny how much can change in such a short time. Instead of thinking about the best way to close my doors, I am scheming about the best way to expand and grow. My enthusiasm for this business has never been better. I am considering any and all possibilities I can think of to make CRUM Cycles once again a solid profit based business.
It took this odd summer combined with the economic situation I was in to turn me around. Back against the wall so to speak. Fight or give up. And though the struggle is not even close to over, I have had enough victories this year to reinforce my will to go on. SO let this be my promise to myself and to anyone interested. I am determined to see CRUM Cycles here next year at this time. And hopefully have even more positive vibes to share.