So here we are. The beginning. I have $100 in the bank, and the world is my oyster. Here begins my potentially epic business adventure. Are you ready for this?
This story starts with… Scooters. Kid’s scooters. You heard me!
Where we’re living at the moment in Nelson, New Zealand, my son Charlie’s pre-school is just round the corner. Literally a block away. His favourite thing right now is riding his little folding scooter everywhere, and it’s become an important part of his pre-school routine.
The problem was that he was starting to get really fast! So much so I was unable to keep up with him without running, which is undignified at that time in the morning! So I had started to look on TradeMe for a second hand one so I could ride with him for some solid father-son time. (Also I watch a lot of Ryan Williams on YouTube so if I’m honest dear reader I kind of wanted one anyway!)
I picked one up from someone not far from our house for $15, and was surprised by a couple of things:
- $15 was a lot less than the $150 this thing had originally cost!
- There was very little wrong with it that a quick service and a couple of cheap parts couldn’t fix.
And then came the beginnings of an idea! What if there was a market for refurbished scooters available for a reasonable price? So many kids want a scooter for ripping to school on, but they’re damn expensive new. I couldn’t afford one of the decent ones for Charlie if he asked for it (luckily he hasn’t reached that stage yet!), and I can’t be the only person in the same position.
So I began to investigate.
The perishable parts (and the bits that look most shitty on a used scooter) are the deck grip and bar grips. I found bar grips on Ali Express for $3 a pair, and with some quick measurements and a google search, worked out I could make 4x scooter sized grip tapes from a single sheet of skateboard grip tape, at a total of just $2.50 per scooter. A total of $5.50 in parts per scooter.
I noticed something else – the bit that most devalues second hand scooters is that usually the headset is loose and making a hell of a lot of noise. Having done some work on old bikes in the last few years, I knew that this was a really simple fix with some lube and a couple of spanners. This was a super easy fix, and another part of the refurbishment “service” I was devising.
It was also evident from the terrible Trademe ads I was seeing that people wanted $50 for their wrecked second hand scooters , but by watching what was happening I knew that $15-$20 was the actual market value people were willing to pay. I wondered what would happen if I could add value to these scooters by refurbishing them and combining that with a great ad and pics? Maybe I could increase the value to the $50 people imagined they were worth.
I decided to test it out. I bought another old MGP scooter for $10 (From the same person, funnily enough!) and got to work. I stripped off the wrecked stickers, grip tape and bar grips then dismantled, cleaned and rebuilt it. I then replaced the grip tape and bar ends.
It looked great! The next steps were to take it down to the skatepark with my camera to take some high quality pics of it, and then to write the Trademe ad. This was my opportunity to make an impression, and I spent a lot of time planning and writing it. Here’s a little sample of the text:
“Save $$$ (and waste) by buying refurbished instead of brand new!
5 point refurbishment:
* Full disassembly and de-gunge
* Headset clean, bearing clean and lube, reassembly and adjustment
* Wheel bearing and spacer removal, clean and lube
* BRAND NEW bar grips!
* BRAND NEW deck grip!
Perfect for the kids’ commute to school, ripping around the skate park or for the young-at-heart looking for an economical way to get around town. Who needs the hassle of parking a car or locking up a bike?! Grab a bargain and go for a rip today!”
In this I’ve tried to do a couple of things;
- I’ve tried to tap into the belief that buying recycled is a good thing to do, as recycling and reducing waste is something feel passionate about, myself included!
- I’ve been explicit in outlining the value I’ve added in my refurbishment, and I’ve given that process a name, “5 point refurbishment”
- I’ve tried to get people reading the listing to imagine their kid “ripping” to school on this scooter, or to imagine themselves using it as an alternative mode of transport.
- Put a little bit of my personality into it so it’s a little more engaging (hopefully) than just a boring description of an item!
In summary, what I’ve tried to do overall is take a product and add value to it, and then market it well by making a great ad. With any luck, this will translate into a sale and ideally, profit!
I’ll let you know how I get on next week. Until then, thanks for reading! Subscribe for updates, like if you liked it, and leave a comment if you have a question or something nice to say 🙂