“I laughed because he is always doing schemes all the time,” Gitomer said.
Now, more than a decade later, he has learned his friend was right. Gitpmer is the owner of Mile Wide Sports in Flagstaff, where he sells mainly bicycle parts of all types over the Internet on eBay and Amazon. Mile Wide carries a broad spectrum of bike parts and accessories that traditional bike shops don’t have the room for or desire to stock, from parts for kids’ bikes all the way to racers, he said.
In fact, the major source of his stock comes from bike shops that have overstocked or when they want to get rid of seasonable items that have not sold.
“I could buy stuff all day long. The problem is getting that product online,” he said.
Each item must be researched, cataloged, photographed and then put online. “That is one of the advantages of selling over the Internet, you don’t have to stock everything,” he said. Still, he cannot carry it all. “It’s impossible. You can’t take care of everyone.”
But Gitomer comes close. He has had his business for about 10 years now and it has been growing steadily. One of the reasons is a very organized warehouse.
He says eBay brings in all sorts of customers from all over the world, 24 hours a day.
“It’s a very simple process. It works great.”
As an example, say a person wants to buy an item for a mountain bike: they go to a bike shop and learn they will be charged $70 for it and it will take a week or two because the item will have to be ordered. The customer reconsiders and decides to check online on eBay, where they find the item for $42 and it can be shipped the next day.
“Not only can they get it cheaper, it gets to you in a few days,” he said.
He says eBay and Amazon have the same kind of environment, with different sellers selling different products, but those who shop on Amazon are more informed. Price is not a barrier at Amazon.
“On eBay, everyone is looking for a deal.”
He says that he made a lot of mistakes over the years and has learned from each and every one. Now, he is happy to call his business “a well-oiled machine.”
Two employees help him in the process when someone wants to buy an item. He thinks that the way things are marketed makes a difference. For example, he had a bunch of motorcycle goggles that had been sitting around for a while. But, when he raised their price $5 and marketed them as open cockpit aviator goggles, they began flying off the shelf.
Gitomer reports that his business has grown, even though the country has been in the throes of a recession. He thinks one of the reasons is that shoppers are getting smarter.
“How much does it cost to start your car and drive across town? If you add that up – the car, the fuel, the upkeep – by shopping online, a person can save the gas money. The item can be shipped to your mailbox in three days and it probably costs less,” he said.
And Gitomer is no stranger to the bike business.
He had been a sales rep for a bike shop and got tired of traveling.
From Kansas City, Kan., he came to Arizona to attend college at Arizona State University. Although he started in the business school, he found it too mundane and ended up with a BA in Liberal Arts.
“I don’t think I would change a thing,” he said. “My business has grown and it seems to come when I needed it. I’ve made decisions to make changes; it happened when I was prepared for it.”
These days, he has the opportunity to take a little time off when he wants.
“I can walk away and nobody knows my office can be in my pocket.” FBN
To learn more, visit www.milewidesports.com.