Author Topic: Your Local Bike Shop  (Read 13296 times)

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tofubicycle

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Your Local Bike Shop
« on: March 18, 2007, 03:09:57 pm »
I'm curious to hear any thoughts or stories folks may wish to share on their experiences in LBSs, motivations to frequent them as opposed to buying online, or the other way around, and why. What are some of the upsides and downsides to frequenting an LBS? Anything to this topic you'd like to share, I'd be interested in reading.

Thanks!

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i'd rather be biking.

tofubicycle

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Your Local Bike Shop
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2007, 03:21:16 pm »
I got my start in the bike industry by frequently hanging around a small two-person repair-only shop in Madison, WI. I had just left my previous job of 4 years and wasn't doing anything but pulling a few shifts for the local courier company and riding for pleasure. Eventually the two guys at this small shop would have me run errands in exchange for free service. It wasn't long before they started to consider moving into a larger space and trying to run a small but full-scale shop. I and a handful of other folks with varying degrees of experience were pulled together to open up the new business. The primary motivation, other than the love for bikes and the need for paycheck, was the general dissatisfaction we all felt with some of the more typical aspects of the bike industry. We weren't happy with a lot of the attitude and poor customer service so often offered to customers who merely appeared to be new or not every serious. We were tired of the way female customers were frequently treated. Of course, I'm not attempting to bad mouthing other shops in the city of Madison, I'm bad mouthing what is poor and unfortunately not uncommon behavior in the shop level of the bike industry. So we set out to do the opposite of that and to create a shop environment that we would want to shop, to leave our bikes to be serviced, and even to hang out.

Years later I took a break from the bike industry and eventually moved to Washington DC where I now live and work - at a LBS. It's good to be back, has revived my interest in this kind of work and I recon I'll be doing it for quite a while. This is a bigger shop though and more -shall we say conventional- compared to what I had grown used to. I still see a lot of problematic things that could easily be described as common place at many shops around the country. I'm certainly not the only one who sees this kind of poor service in shops and my interest in continuing to work towards creating shops where people can go to get away from it, has motivated me to start up this discussion.

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......(O) (O)...........
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i'd rather be biking.

Offline Sailariel

Your Local Bike Shop
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2007, 04:39:18 pm »
Our LBS is a small one man operation. The owner is very knowledgeable and has been a mechanic all his life--motorcycles and sports cars--now bikes. He tries to sell only quality bikes--preferably bikes made in the USA. He has one line made in Taiwan. On line buying is a problem because most often the on line folks underprice by a lot. His best defense is to offer good service and a 10% discount to local Bike Club members. He does excellent fittings and works on all bikes that are brought in. You get treated the same if you bring in a `Mart bike or a Pinarello. He and I both like classic bikes and we both like to build bikes. My hobby bike shop is as well equipped as his commercial shop. I fix bikes for people who can only afford to buy parts from our LBS but can`t afford the labor--mostly working poor people. I`m retired so I have the time. The owner of the LBS is also a very close friend.


cyclesafe

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Your Local Bike Shop
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2007, 05:49:30 pm »
IMHO, an LBS must earn its excess markups.  If it provides poor or unneeded services, I would rather buy online.  Its cheaper, fast enough, and doesn't involve a trip to the LBS.

To those who say "support the LBS for the times you need the part right away or for when you need the service", I say "I do, when I buy the over-priced part".  However, 95%+ of my business in from online retailers.



Offline jl_longstaff

Your Local Bike Shop
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2007, 06:58:59 pm »
My experience with LBS have been discouraging to say the least.  I've been away from biking for a while but am not a newbee, I can repair/adjust my own bikes and have no problem building up my own.  The service I get in a LBS is; I have their interest until they discover theat I am not buying now, I am not buying top of the line, and they "percieve" that I don't know what I am looking for.  I tell them what kind of riding I want to do and where.  However they start selling what i presume to be their price leaders/profit engines.
I want to buy a Bianche Volpe but being internet ignorant I don't know where to look,  do you?


Offline TwoWheeledExplorer

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Your Local Bike Shop
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2007, 09:37:03 am »
I have been pretty lucky, and had three good shops in a row; two small, one location stores and one shop that is part of the largest #### dealer in MN. (As we moved around from 'burb to 'burb, it became inconvenient to drive clear to the other side of town to go to a shop, so I changed dealers.) Couple of observations...Even LBSs owned by the same company are not going to be the same or have the same interests or skill levels. We have 3 or 4 shops in the Twin Cities that, unless you are a dedicated road-racer, don't even bother coming through the door with your silly-little-chain-problem. We have a few shops that are no better than the discount stores they constantly gripe about, and we have a substantial number of shops that are really great. These are the ones you'll see doing support at social rides in the community, putting on educational programs, wrenching workshops, etc. and supporting trail building, volunteer trail patrollers (like ours) and police/EMS bike units.

The shop I go to now, I met the owners at church, and a couple of their staff are also members of our congregation. They have grown phenominally in the past few years, but they still take the time to fit each rider to their bike, whether it is high-end or not. That is part of the reason I like my Bianchi Volpe (See "Volpe vs. ???" in the "Gear" section.) so much.

Ride safe,
Hans

National Mountain Bike Patrol-MN
www.trailpatrol.org
2WX: The Two-Wheeled Explorer
www.twowheeledexplorer.org
"St. Louis to the Western Sea if nothing prevents."--John Ordway, Corps of Discovery

Offline Dan_E_Boye

Your Local Bike Shop
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2007, 06:11:37 pm »
One thing about many local bike shops I notice now that I'm a bit older is that they are usually staffed by kids and they have that snotty kid attitude.  I don't like kids telling me what I want when I specifically tell them I want something different.  

When I lived in Eugene I only found one bike shop I liked and it was a small shop right off campus.  You would think Eugene would have a lot of good shops but I didn't think so.

I like to see something in person before I buy so if I can see it and test ride it I would rather buy in person.  The problem is if I want something unusual I'm not likely to find it in a local shop.  I'm interested in trying one of the new Rans mountain bikes but our local Rans dealer does not have any in stock.  I'm also interested in a Cat Trike but again, none to try out in person.

I guess the bottom line is I buy from where I can find it.  


Offline driftlessregion

Your Local Bike Shop
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2007, 10:12:38 pm »
I only buy mail order when I absolutely can't buy it locally. My problem is choosing which of the fine  (with the exception of one) locally owned Madison shops to patronize.


tofubicycle

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Your Local Bike Shop
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2007, 09:34:56 am »
Thanks so much for the responses thus far! I'm always curious to hear more on this topic.

driftlessregion, I'd be very curious to hear your general impression of that little bike shop next to Cafe Zoma on Atwood if you'd like to share them. It's been a long time since I was involved there, I know they moved into a new location, and I'm curious to hear how they're doing. If you're so inclined you could email me at tofubicycle (at) gmail (dot) com and anything you wrote would be between us.

--
......... __ o
.........-\<,
......(O) (O)...........
...........................
i'd rather be biking.

Offline Sailariel

Your Local Bike Shop
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2007, 01:05:40 pm »
I always buy locally. Both of our shops are one man operations. One caters to the high end crowd and the other takes care of everything from high end down. I would hate to see local shops done in by the internet and large catalog stores.


Offline jl_longstaff

Your Local Bike Shop
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2007, 06:11:07 pm »
I would readily buy from a local bike shop if I could get what I want.  They don't seem to want to help, only to sell me what they have built up. I'm not offered a bike to try out, they don't have my size built up, or they don't even have the type of bike I'm looking for!  They will always try to sell me something I have expressed no interest in. Shape up!...or go out of business!  It makes no difference if they can't, or won't the result is the same.


Offline jl_longstaff

Your Local Bike Shop
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2007, 06:37:04 pm »
I would readily buy from a local bike shop if I could get what I want.  They don't seem to want to help, only to sell me what they have built up. I'm not offered a bike to try out, they don't have my size built up, or they don't even have the type of bike I'm looking for!  They will always try to sell me something I have expressed no interest in. Shape up!...or go out of business!  It makes no difference if they can't, or won't the result is the same.

This message was edited by jl_longstaff on 3-20-07 @ 2:40 PM

Offline jl_longstaff

Your Local Bike Shop
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2007, 06:41:56 pm »
Sorry; I tried to erase the second edition, didn't work.


Offline dombrosk

Your Local Bike Shop
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2007, 11:50:53 am »
It's sad to hear that there are so many folks with bad experiences with local shops.  I am fanatically loyal to my local bike shop, which is *not* part of a 'chain' despite being named the 'bicycle chain'.  They've helped me modify my ancient hybrid bike to be a great touring/commuting workhorse without ever trying to sell me something I didn't need or want.  Sometimes I'll buy the 50% off eVENT rain jacket I'll spot on-line, but more often I'll do my research on the web and then print out the item for my LBS to order for me.  If you would be OK with your local bike shop closing, then definitely don't shop there.  Otherwise, consider using your dollars to vote for local businesses.


Offline ride29

Your Local Bike Shop
« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2007, 04:37:48 pm »
I love my local bike shop! It's a place where I can go, talk with the owner about all aspects of bikes and biking for an hour, pick up what I need, put my hands on and drool over all the new bikes, even take them for a spin. If I need to have a wheel rebuilt - I know John is the guy to do it. If anything on my bike needs fixing or tweaking, I know his son Kevin is the guy to do it. If I need advice about parts and components - I know the shop is the place to go. I try to be loyal with purchase, although I have purchased online (just purchased my Arkel bags and Old Man Mountain racks directly from the factory). I, for one, would NOT want to see all bike shopping become online.

By the way, my bike shop's owner is even a member of warmshowers.com, and is willing to put up and take care of touring cyclists in a nice trailer on his own property. How's that for supporting bicycle touring?

Daryl Bernard
Daryl Bernard