Bikes on Etsy


by Byron on Dec 15, 2010 at 8:22 AM

Mentioned on Twitter that bikes were on Etsy and that generated lots of discussion. Bringing the topic to the blog for more than 140 characters and your comments.


Note I’m not criticizing Bowery Lane Bicycles for marketing on Etsy. I’ve written enough about how an industry with flat sales for 15 years and counting could use some Rework, but the economics don’t seem right.

Would you buy from a DIY marketplace that’s “soap and scarves?” and $600 for a handbuilt-in-the-States bike, really?

How’s that work? What’s the secret sauce? Catalog sales and mail order squeezed margins a decade ago, when Performance et. al turned on their dotcoms. What’s Bowery running at? I hope high and good.

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That’s easy — they’re buying Worksman bikes built out in Queens and marking them up 200% over the original retail.

It’s about the same quality as what you could buy a bit cheaper (in adjusted dollars) from the old Schwinn in the ‘70s. Right now you could get the same for under $100 retail sourced in China, or over $1000 retail as a “Dutch Bike”. It’s all the same mediocre but sturdy hi-ten pipe and sheet metal construction from 70 years ago. It’s a good thing they don’t use derailleurs.

Excellent response—we don’t know them and we’re wondering if they were “assembled in the US.” So handbuilt in this case, isn’t “handcrafted by artisans in a woodsy New York hollow that smells of Pedros and stale beer.”

Yeah - I’ve got a couple of Worksman bikes and they’re SUPER heavy (I’d never use any of their components on my other bikes). Regardless, Worksman & Bowery Lane are American AND UNION made. I would rather people buy these than some other made in China cruiser or dutch-style bike.

Selling on Etsy is a whole other topic.  I’m not really keen on their marketing strategy - marking up the price and giving it an ‘artisan’ label.  That’s just stepping over the line.

Why ETSY? Why not? We are trying to reach an entirely different audience. We are not in any “bike shops” and this is a strategic move because of the intimidation people have of the “bike culture”. Call it what you want but it was one of our best moves to post on Etsy, and not to mention that Etsy liked it soo much they bought a few for their office.

...And keep an eye out cause next year is going to be a turning point for our company and our bikes.

You can always email us with any questions or if you are ever in town swing by and lets grab beers.

BLB Crew

I really like etsy. There are a lot of people on there that aren’t really creating the product themselves in part, and some who aren’t creating it for themselves at all.

I’m not too bothered by that, so long as that distinction is clear and people aren’t misled. If I were to buy a bike on etsy thinking I’d supported a small frame builder and instead got a reworked worksman, I’d be irked. Not that buying American product is wrong, but etsy is a place that a lot of people go to specifically for artist / artisinal goods, and want to support those types specifically :)

Bowery lane certainly isn’t outright claiming to be an artisinal gig, but they do leave it a bit ambiguous, and their about page says that they are “committed to making affordable bikes”, which leads one to think that they *are* actually making them - until I read about how they’re actually worksman.

That’s my only gripe, really. Darkcycleclothing on etsy sells genuine american clothing, which they modify a bit and then mark up - but at least I know that outright by visiting their etsy pages.

Aside from a bit of marketing ambiguity, sure, they look harmless enough.

the tragedy of the collabo