How It All Started from Beginning Part 3
We last left off with my trip to Daytona Bike Week. I met new friends and come home back to my life at a Motorcycle Dealership which I owned with a business partner. I go on few rides and get a couple more parts for the Honda Ruckus. A year goes by, and my Business Partner and I have a falling out. I offer to buy the business since we are 50/50 partners. He tells me he is going to buy me out and I agree. I take 8 months off from work and start restoring old vintage Honda Motorcycles from Honda CB350, CB550, CB500, CB750, and a few others. Below are some of the bikes I was restoring at the time.
Above is Kawasaki completely restored from a box of parts for my father.
Above is 1972 CB750
Above is 1973 CB 350
This is when café racing was starting to become popular. I don’t sell anything just add to my collection often restoring these motorcycles better than Original. I see my Ruckus in the corner and decide one night to start an online store, incorporate a new business, get with some vendors, and buy maybe a thousand dollars worth of parts. The online site was basic. I get on Facebook and start promoting parts. I noticed no one at the time had a Ruckus Only shop. They always sold other parts and the Honda Ruckus part selection was a very small part of their product line. People like PasswordJDM, sold mostly Honda Civic parts, BOWLS sold clothing, and others sold parts from their homes. If you wanted a stretch motor mount, you got it from this guy, want a stem for handlebars you got it from another person, and most people sold them on the ruckus Forum TOTALRUCKUS.com for sale classified section. There was no online store for only Honda Ruckus parts and since parts were limited, pricing was at the time expensive because these people were the only ones who made a certain part for their hobby. I sold a few things here and there, purchasing the parts first and stored them in my garage. I then got hooked up with DWT wheels and I started selling wheels.
A few months passed and I get a call from DWT stating that they Googled my business address, and they did not allow home-based vendors. They were going to stop selling to me. At this time, I was selling a lot of solid wheels and modifying them to fit on the original Honda Ruckus GET motor modifying them with a drill press to fit the 4/140 bolt pattern. I told DWT to give me a week and I would have commercial brick and mortar location. They agreed, but now I had to find a place. Why is The Ruck Shop in Zephyrhills and not Tampa? Well, I didn’t have a lot of time and I honestly didn’t know if I wanted to do this full time. Plus, the location I found was literally 1 mile from the front door of my home. I had owned and sold a 54-employee telecom business, was a Realtor at one time, and then helped a friend out with his motorcycle shop only to grow it to a large 7000 sq ft shop became his business partner and now sold it as well. Did I want to sell only Ruckus Parts? Was this a business that was going to last and did I want to do this 40 hours a week? I was having fun restoring motorcycles but selling parts was fun too.
I decided to take the approach and business model of BOWLS in California. I was going to sell clothing and Ruckus parts. So, I picked up Metal Mulisha clothing, DePalma clothing, a local Ruckus Mafia clothing line, VonZipper Glasses, Rockstar , OGO, Camelpak, and Honda Clothing with a wall full of Honda Ruckus only parts. I went to Ikea and bought some furniture, some of which I still have today. Got some paint, Slat wall, a computer, a credit card processor, signed back up with one of my old motorcycle distributors, and had a friend that used to be one of my motorcycle techs help me with the store build-out. I had paid the first and last month’s rent and had a year lease. I called DWT and said I was live and now had a commercial location. I got the store open in 3 days, working 16 hours a day to get it to freshen up and like I wanted it.
My vision was to have a hang-out place, with a 42 TV, couch, coffee table where people would make the trip to Zephyrhills and hang out and buy some clothing and a few parts. I would not have set hours and thought to myself, I will have a boutique-style shop. This model or idea didn’t last long. I found myself taking orders for parts getting them and then charging the customer after I got the parts and would often order more than one to have for inventory in the future. Word got around that there was a Ruckus-only shop and that I shipped the same day and ONLY sold what I had in my store. I did not take people’s money and then ordered parts. I felt if you could not afford to get a product for a customer and hold the stock you should not be in business. I didn’t go to the mall and order clothes they have them on the shelf. This was before online ordering and Amazon were popular. The downside to this business model was that since I had parts in stock customers would buy more than they thought and had no money left for clothing, sunglasses, watches, and other apparel that I had at my shop. No one hung out either. They made the trip, said “Wow look at all the stuff !”, bought stuff, and left. I had hundreds of dollars in clothing and only could sell Ruckus parts.
Beginning days of The Ruck Shop
I discounted the clothing lines cheaper than one could get at the malls and even tried picking up the NEFF clothing line to no avail. Clothing got dusty but hey the shop looked cool or so I thought. I started to add more product lines to my online store and my moto when I started as it is still was “Affordability for the Masses” and “We only sell what we have in stock” I wanted to grow this Honda Ruckus Hobby or scene because I loved these little scooters. I never advertised on TotalRuckus.com, placed post in classified section. I relied on word of mouth and customer’s recommendations to others on that forum. The business started to grow, and I was now working 10 hours a day and re-investing all profits back into more inventory. Next time we will talk about parts, my first employee, and my first CNC machine.