Okay, for the most part I don't hate the traditional bicycle shop. Why? Well, I managed one for 8 years, sold hundreds of bikes and thousands of parts myself. Lead, organized and participated in years of rides, races and clubs. So what's my beef?
After a frustrating and expensive build up of my new super expensive, self indulgent BMC SLC01 I have come to realize bike shops just aren't the same anymore. In the old days it was easier to know most everything a customer would ask. Now days, these young yahoo's don't know !@#$%. As an informed customer you walk in with specific questions and these guys haven't even been taught basic salesmanship, it's frustrating after having spent my youth in a shop and moved on to bigger and better things.
If it wasn't for Online shopping a customer is left to the anecdotal advice from people you assume are experts. Why? Because they work in a shop, however, lest we forget sometimes we hired people to work in the shop for a lot of reasons. Not because they know ANYTHING. Maybe because we got sick of them hanging out in the showroom so we figured we might as well pay them and put them to work.
I spent 200+ miles commuting, several hundred dollars on cables to solve a build up problem. Yes, I SPENT SEVERAL HUNDRED DOLLARS ON CABLES! Reason: shops are conveinent and I'm impatient. I went with the recommendation of the shop mechanic, got hosed b/c the mechanics are known for raiding the packages and taking #$@# out of them for personal reasons or for a repair. Got home and of course, parts missing in an unopened package, sure it could have happened at the factory: unlikely. Call the local branch of the shop..."Uhhh...no you have to take that back to the location you got it from even though we are the same chain store...we don't open the packages and take stuff out". The product wasn't good for me but I've got another bike build I'll use it on...went back and was in the process of buying some overpriced little goodies (Nokon's) when I notice two things; First, the salesman felt it necessary to finish wrapping some bar tape and make me wait 10 minutes to spend $150 bucks on $100 bucks worth of cables, secondly, to witness him raiding another set of brake cables to make my set complete. So they don't raid new packages and they have a reputation built on customer service? Right. Sorry if you're the guy who buys the next set of $@#$@# Nokon's from these guys.
Next was a trip to buy a simple front derailleur clamp, a Campy 35mm (or 34.9mm to be exact) clamp. Sure overpriced junk that a simple Shimano or any other hunk of aluminum would do but what the h3&& it's a fantasy bike. I tell the dreadlocked, half bathed mechanic what I'm looking for...after a few seconds blank stare to figure out what I said off he went...back with a Shimano clamp to which I said I was really wanting the Campy. Well, a few mumbles to another know it all and boing! "They don't make one", was the reply. And I thought to myself....I just told this guy I saw it on the internet..I asked for a highly specific part and I don't look as stupid as he does so why does he think I came in here? To ask for a part that's not made? Someone drew up a graphic, posted to multiple websites with pricing, sku#'s, specs all to fool me. This is a top 100 bicycle dealer? Probably, top 10, in fact both these shops are. Anyway, for the price of thier $3 Shimano clamp selling for $30, I ordered the real deal from Performance online, overnighted it and got it for $35 to my office.
The shop I worked for would be lucky to make top 1000 but IMO it's 1 in a million. Full machine shop, custom paint booth, 40+ years of cycling/racing experience. If we didn't have it, we made it! Fit kit before fit kits were invented, employed "real" cyclists, "real" mechanics, not half doped goofballs and parts changers.
My point? Am I anal retentive...according to Freud...probably. However, these two shops represent the leading edge of an industry that has changed it's face. As consumers we really no longer need to depend on the local brick & mortar shop for anything other than basic service and original bike purchases. The highly educated buyers are probably better off researching things on their own and buying Online. Believe me I wasn't a proponent of this b/c I knew the backbone of cycling are the events and comradery the shops/clubs offer but I am now convinced buying Online is the answer. You get what you pay for, not a bunch of stupidity, laziness and ambivalence.
My suggestion: don't sell the crap unless you know what the #$#%@ you're talking about and don't give me that "personal attention" garbage that local shops offer. Twenty years ago when Arnie Nashbar, Gary Snook and Colorado Cylist/Excel/Branford Bike were the only mail order around...sure. Now days, not hardly. You go into these two particular shops, get wrong information, 2nd rate attention at HIGH PREMIUM PRICES WITH huge margins and these guys expect loyalty? Why? For past benefits? IN DALLAS TEXAS I WOULD SUGGEST YOU BUY YOUR HIGH END ITEMS ONLINE AND NOT IN THE SHOPS.
This arguement has no end but I had to vent somewhere. I just wished that bike shops would advance their practices like other industries and train their people better instead of still relying on cheap labor to sell carbon fiber, titanium, carbon nanotubes, space age polymers etc., in other words don't take your Enzo to the Dodge dealer. They may be big, move lots of mdse. and sponsor future professionals like LA...but they still hire yahoos!
My .02 and you get a nickel back.