And Then?

These little piggybackers went aftermarket . . . and reaped the benefits of a built-in consumer base.

What if, tomorrow, we decided not to own cars? The whole world, all at once, just gave them up? What if, say, instead, we decided to ride ostriches to work and school? That would mean two things: The Twilight Zone isn't just black-and-white reruns-it's real life, and we've just entered it-and Lee Schoenfeld would no longer have a business.

All right, maybe thousands, or even millions, of entrepreneurs and employees around the world would be affected. But let's talk about Schoenfeld, a businessman whose store, AutoFun Inc., doesn't sell cars; it sells car accessories. If you go into Schoenfeld's store, located in the heart of Coon Rapids, a suburb of Minneapolis, you won't find a Plymouth or a Probe, but you will see car stereos and car stickers, CD decks and fuzzy dice. AutoFun even sells 8-tracks if you want them. You'll see 32-inch subwoofers and satellite navigation systems. Or Schoenfeld may lead you to a curling iron, a blender or a coffee maker that plugs in to your cigarette lighter. He has child safety seats and floor mats, too, all of which would be completely useless on an ostrich. Except, maybe, for the fuzzy dice. You could tie them around the animal's neck. Where there's a will, there's a way, right?

AutoFun is a store that specializes in aftermarket products. Cars are the market; accessories are the aftermarket.

Many of us have heard of the aftermarkets associated with automobiles. We know that after a car wreck, we can buy aftermarket auto products to fix the thing good as new, and that no matter what, in a few weeks, we'll have forgotten about the incident and be driving like a maniac again.

Er-yes . . . anyway, not so many people are aware that after-markets extend well beyond cars. For instance, cheese is a market, and the screwy inventor who came up with the cheeseball holder created a new aftermarket. Train or airplane travel is a market; the travel agency is the aftermarket. The original Beanie Babies were a market-the Beanie Baby magazines, books and collector cases were all part of the aftermarket.

Get it? Before we go on, let's make sure. Check the correct box:

An aftermarket is a business that can't exist without another particular business. That particular business can completely exist without the aftermarket.

Aftermarket refers to the process of putting away your Cheese Whiz and pickle relish after a trip to the grocery store.

I hate quizzes, and I think your journalist is on drugs.

Hey . . . who put that last one in there?

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Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.

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This article was originally published in the April 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: And Then?.

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