Originally Posted by petevandyke
Helmets are ONE exception to the rule that Tony posted that I normally would agree with without exception. Here's why...
Yes, dealerships have to maintain a huge inventory to keep multiple sizes and most or all of the colors of a helmet in stock for when Joe Anybody and his significant other walk in the door. But the mark-up is ridiculous.
Case in point...
Dealership in the area I won't mention by name in the town of Allen TX that rhymes with Naxim Motorsports built a huge new showroom. For a little while I was considering a ST1300 or a FJR 1300, when they opened up I was anticipating that since they had an ENORMOUS showroom, they'd have great prices on bikes and merchandise, too. WRONG. Best price I could negotiate on an '06 ST1300 was $2,300 more than a honda dealership 145 miles north in Oklahoma.
When I read ALL about the new Multitec, I knew I needed to try one on, they're close to home, so I stopped in. Told them the best price I could find online, after trying one on in my size, and they pulled a catalog out from a distributor you and I could buy from, I won't name them, but they rhyme with helmet mouse. He generously said he could knock all of $15 off of the price...which was still more than $100 more than I already showed him I could get it online.
Yamaha dealership near Ft. Worth has the same Shoei that three months ago they told me "the lowest we can possibly go is $499" on sale this week for $349. I don't think they are taking a loss on it, do you?
I have a close friend who runs his own motorcycle repair shop, doesn't sell much clothing or helmets, but he told me that if he were able to move enough of the top-line helmets (which he can't, because he specializes in jet skis, and dirt bikes, and has a lousy location), his mark-up for top-line helmets like Arai, Suomy, Shoei and the like would be about 40%, more for HJC, and close to 100% for lines like Z1R (which placed first in Motorcyclist magazine's test a few months ago) and some lesser-knowns, particularly those made in Korea and China that are becoming more popular and have DOT and Snell certification.
So...Long, boring post short...... on a helmet, which you cannot return once you've worn it, I have no issue with swinging by a local dealer and "fitting" the helmet, then saving $100-$150+ buying it online (helmet harbor and Jeff there have been VERY VERY good to me, by the way--if you have ANY question about ANY helmet, there isn't a better source of info than him, says me, even if he knows you'll likely not buy it from him, try and find THAT anywhere else!), when it's such a high markup item.
Now if we're talking a battery that the difference is five bucks after shipping, or a part with a 2% difference, or clothing that is within a couple bucks, I'll pay the couple dollars to keep the money local.
Yeah, we are going to disagree on this point, that's for sure! Maybe that comes from my time owning a retail sports (SCUBA) shop and dealing with all of the folks that came in to get educated and fit for free before buying elsewhere.
There was one bloke for whom one of our staff recommended and fit a particular piece of equipment for. We even let him try it out in our indoor pool. He left saying he would be back on payday or some other paltry excuse. He bought it online after taking about an our of my employee's time, which inconvenienced our paying customers. He had the audacity to bitch and moan how he did not like the way it performed for him, AND HE DIDN'T BUY IT FROM US! He wanted us to fix it for him for free, and to let him get back in our pool with it. I overheard the conversation, introduced myself, confirmed the details, explained the quandry, and politely asked him to leave my store. But I'm a big meanie.
As for margins, our typical gross margin was 40% - 50%, or up to 100% mark-up. Sounds like a lot, but the overhead is ridiculous with staff, insurance, and on-site indoor pool. There's a joke in the dive shop business that illustrates how great these margins are in real life:
A: Do you know how to make a million dollars in the dive business?
B: No, how?
A: Start with two million.
I try to save every dollar I can when buying something, but if I use your expertise, I will try to patronize your establishment when possible. That's me, though, and I don't expect everyone to see it that way.
When you walk a mile in someone else's shoes, the perspective really does often change.