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  1. #1
    Older Than Dirt
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    Area bike shops (long)

    It is common to rant about the incompetence or lack of customer skills displayed by many LBS. Since I have no shop within 25 miles of home, I catch my needs at shops when I am travelling for work in my 8 county territory. This is a summary of my ratings of the shops in my part of the world.

    City ONE:

    Shop C: The big Kahuna. This bunch is not at all interested in the bald, grey-haired buy when he comes in. They have eyes only on the racers, be they road or trail. I do not use them for much.

    Shop H: These folks are family owned and the staff is very friendly. They also have problems with many simple requests like a few spokes of the correct length. They've sold kids bikes for so long, they seem to have forgotten how to deal with a more serious rider. A shame.

    Shop P: Most of the help is totally ignorant and arrogant. They have the best bike mechanic in the city, however. I ignore most of the help (some I will tolerate) and see the head wrench.

    Shop F: These folks are friendly and seem to want to help. They never, ever seem to have what I need on hand and they have no concept of the term ETA. A small inventory and limited selection keep me out of this shop most of the time.

    City TWO:

    Shop U: The area's tandem and recumbent shop. They seem to be more in tune with what I need, but, they are a long way from home and never have the bits I need in stock.

    Shop P2: The parent of Shop P above. The owner and his son run this one. The difference between night and day. This is a well run shop with helpful and competent people. A pleasure to do business with, but they are over 50 miles from my home.

    Shop B: I visted once. They were not busy. I was ignored for 30 minutes. I won't be back.

    Shop P3: A very average, more BMX oriented shop.

    City THREE:

    Shop B: In the same family since 1923. They take time to listen and try to help. They are reasonable. They don't always have the best prices, but I do business with them because they act like they want my business.

    Shop S: The family that runs this shop has a family attitude: rude.

    Town FOUR:

    Shop K: In business since 1930 and I don't have a clue how or why. No discernable bicycle knowledge, no interest in serving the customer, no effort at decent display. Wally-World in a small building.

    Town FIVE:

    Shop C: A one man operation in a college town. The owner is willing to talk, willing to help and has a decent stock. This is one of the places I try to do business with.

    I guess the purpose here is to point out that there is a real lack of total effort in most shops. Perhaps it is the long hours and the limited income. Perhaps it is the fact that most of the people who work in bike shops have too much of a love of the iron and not enough love of the customer, but I've visted a lot of bike shops once. I have been back to very few and only a couple I really like to patronize.

    I do wish Reverend Chuck was a wee bit closer as I've visited his place of employment and found a really good bike shop.

    Doc
    Say Ya to da Yoop, eh!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DocF
    I guess the purpose here is to point out that there is a real lack of total effort in most shops. Perhaps it is the long hours and the limited income. Perhaps it is the fact that most of the people who work in bike shops have too much of a love of the iron and not enough love of the customer, but I've visted a lot of bike shops once. I have been back to very few and only a couple I really like to patronize.

    I do wish Reverend Chuck was a wee bit closer as I've visited his place of employment and found a really good bike shop.

    Doc
    I think the above quote could pertain to any type of shop, selling bikes, radios or whatever. There are good and bad shops in every field.

    There also seem to be trends in industries. To the people who have worked in food service, how many have worked for restaurant owners who are complete jerks? I sure have. How many have worked on the line with drunks and junkies of one sort or another? That's been every restaurant I've ever worked in.

    I think the reason we cyclists find it so offensive when we run ino a bad LBS is that we have a passion for bikes and cycling. As customers we would like to see that same passion in the people who are selling us the goods that we want, that we really, really want. Some of us keep bikes and cycling as a central focus of our lives. Some shop employees don't. They see selling bikes and parts as a job, like any other, not as hobby or a focus of their lives. This might explain some of the lack of knowledge to the person who is really passionate about cycling.

    Conversely, some people working at bike shops really love bikes and cycling. To them bikes and cycling are a central focus to their lives. To a certain type of person working at a place that serves the needs of peoples passions gives them a feeling of superiority. Thus, they act like arrogant asses. They have the goods that you want and they know it. You have to be nice to them.

    From the view of someone working at an LBS, I'm sure they get a lot of gawkers, window shoppers and stupid questions. It would be enough to make anyone a little standoffish.

    Then there are just good bike shops run by pleasant, well informed people. It's a good thing that there are pleanty of these around. This is where I choose to spend my money.

    Funny thing is that I have seen the three types of shops mentioned above all over the world. It's not just an American phenomenon.

  3. #3
    The Red Lantern Rev.Chuck's Avatar
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    "From the view of someone working at an LBS, I'm sure they get a lot of gawkers, window shoppers and stupid questions. It would be enough to make anyone a little standoffish"

    We get treated like idiots pretty often as well. This past monday a guy came in wanting tires for his girlfriends thirty year old Motobecane, which he had not seen. He absolutley insisted tha it had 26" tires on it, "because all bikes from that time did". I tried to explain to him that it was probably a 27" and then showed several bikes, including another Motobecane with this size tire on it. He still insisted he knew what he was talking about and it was a 26" even though his GF was saying the tires looked like the ones I had pointed out. I was not trying to make him look stupid, I was trying to help him out so he would not have to make two trips.
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  4. #4
    Industrial Strength BS hoodlum's Avatar
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    Raleigh is extremely lucky to have several great LBS's. We have our share of the others, too. I feel bad somtime because there is honestly two or three places I would like to give all of my business to.

  5. #5
    Dilettante zbicyclist's Avatar
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    I have the opposite situation. I did a Yahoo yellow pages screen about 5 years ago, and there were 40 bicycle shops within 10 miles of either my home or office.

    The past few years have not been good to the LBS business. The two closest bike shops to me, and several of the others, have gone out of business. These shops would pretty much fit in with the bottom half of the shops you describe. My "favorite" was a family shop where the second generation owner was nagged by his mother (whose husband had founded the shop) and his wife while his teenage daughter sold and his young son played around, providing a bit of domestic comedy along with the bike shopping. I took my bike there after an auto accident. They asked when I needed it -- I told them they had 4 weeks, since my hand would be in a cast until then. I came back 6 weeks later and they hadn't started on the bike.

    As another poster noted, mediocrity in small retail is common across types of businesses.

    So, why are many of us enthused about the particular shops we use most? Because there are good shops out there (near most of us), and you only need to find one or two and it's as if the rest don't exist. It's like restaurants -- if there are a few good ones near you, the number of mediocre places doesn't matter.

    My sympathies, though, to those without a good shop near them.

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