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Biggest challenge yet for new Village Ski and Bikes owner: Replacing cash register trapped in 1987

Village Ski and Bikes, a Lake Ridge staple since 1984, recently underwent new ownership. Tom Finn, a retired Marine purchased the shop in December 2016 and has big plans for Village Ski and Bikes.

ODC: Why did you buy the business?

VSB: Because I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. I’m not quite ready to retire, and, having previously owned a business I’m unemployable in the sense that I don’t want to work for someone else, so owning a business was my only option. I’ve been a customer of Village Skis and Bikes buying skis and bikes for over 17 years and when Jim told me he wanted to sell the business but hadn’t found the right person, I decided to take a look at it. I liked what I saw, and when Jim told me he wanted to continue working here part time, I just couldn’t pass it up.

ODC: Can you share with the readers a little about yourself?

VSB: My wife and I have been married for 39 years. We have two children that both graduated from Virginia Tech and two young grandchildren. I also enlisted in the Marines and eventually became an officer and finally became a Marine aviator flying the F4 – Phantom. I’ve owned another business here (Finn Autobody Inc. in Woodbridge from 1995-2006) in the area for over 11 years and I’m looking forward to serving the community again.
ODC: What’s a big challenge you’ve had to overcome so far?

VSB: Replacing Jim’s cash register system that he bought in 1987. It still ran DOS, C:\ and all that stuff. We had to format 3.5 inch disks for data storage and navigate through a cumbersome menu system to sell each product. It didn’t help manage the inventory at all. It was only slightly better than writing things down on a piece of paper. So we bought a state of the art system that runs on an IPAD and uses cloud storage. We’ve spent the past month loading the inventory data.

ODC: What’s a piece of advice you’d share with another person considering the purchase of an existing business?

VSB: Spend a significant amount of time with the present owner to make sure you understand how the business runs and that you trust him to not take advantage of you in the transaction. Knowing Jim for 17 years made that part easy for me. Also, don’t just focus on the purchase price. Make sure you have enough working capital as there will always be unforeseen expenses.

ODC: What all does Village Skis and Bikes offer?

VSB: We sell several brands of bicycles with Giant Bicycles being our primary line. Other brands we carry include Felt, Raleigh, Eastern, and Redline. We sell all models of road racing bikes, BMX bikes, mountain bikes and children’s bikes to electric assist bikes. We offer expert repair of all brands of bicycles, as well as a complete line of accessories, parts, clothing and cycling equipment.

We sell several brands of skis and snowboards with Elan being our primary ski line and Ride being the primary snowboard. We also carry Atomic skis and are planning to add Rossignol and possibly Head Skis for next year. We offer complete service and repair of skis and snowboards. We sell Dalbello and Roxa ski boots and offer expert boot fitting. We also have a complete line of snow clothing, goggles, and helmets.

Our last line is skateboards including parts and equipment.

ODC: When did the store originally open?

VSB: Jim started this business in 1984 in Tackett’s Mill. He moved to the present Old Bridge Festival at Dillingham Square location about 1990.

ODC: What are some of your plans for the business?

VSB: We will maintain the “Your Family Fun Store” orientation of the business while moving the bike business a little towards the performance side of bicycling. We plan to offer professional bike, shoe, and saddle fitting. I’m planning to start a group ride program.

My big goal is to add indoor skiing in the form of a treadmill carpet Snow Sports Simulator. This would be a great way for us to teach people how to ski and snowboard before they get to the slopes. They would also be able to try out boots before buying them.

ODC: What have you loved about owning the business so far?

VSB: Three days of skiing in Colorado that qualifies as “work.”

For More Information:

Tom Finn
Village Ski and Bikes
12383 Dillingham Square
Lake Ridge VA 22192
Phone: (703) 730-0303

*This post is written by Rod Loges and Jenn Mathis, of One Degree Capital in Occoquan, in collaboration with Potomac Local.
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