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Old 05-25-09, 12:24 PM   #1
notarealsoccerm
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Bike Shops don't like kids?

I went into a bike shop the other day by myself (mom was next door and I'm 14 btw) and the moment I walked in the owner (maybe) swiveled his head straight at me and had a look of "oh great a kid" on his face. And he said to me rather harshly "Don't touch anything or I'll kick your butt out" I took the advice that I was already going to follow. So I walk down the isles starting at the cruisers, to the mountainsbikes, and finally to the road bikes. All the while he owner followed my every move like a hawk. I felt like he expected me to push down the aisles of bikes in a great domino effect.

So my question is, why do bike shops not like kids? Contrary they seem like they want "us" out as fast as they can. It may be the one that I went to but I've heard other stories of this happening to other kids my age who are just interested in looking for bikes
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Old 05-25-09, 01:31 PM   #2
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It simply because most kids around your age try to steal stuff, or cause trouble. Thats just how it is, and i'm the same way when kids come into the gas station i work at, and so is everyone i work with.

Best bet is to simply talk to the owner and let him know your serious about cycling and your not going to cause any trouble, and get to know them so your welcomed into the shop, rather that considered a potential thief or trouble maker...
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Old 05-25-09, 01:38 PM   #3
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It is wrong to assume that all kids your age will cause trouble or shoplift, but damn...some kids your age really do give an extremely bad impression. Give the oldsters a break, trust takes time.
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Old 05-25-09, 02:04 PM   #4
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So my question is, why do bike shops not like kids? Contrary they seem like they want "us" out as fast as they can. It may be the one that I went to but I've heard other stories of this happening to other kids my age who are just interested in looking for bikes
So did you buy anything?

What do you think the bike shop owner should do? One doesn't have to be in the business for very long before you find stuff missing or empty point-of-purchase packaging in the dressing room. Kids really do steal stuff from the bike shop. Now the bike shop owner is faced with an unpleasant choice. He can restrict kids from coming into the bike shop; he can watch the kids while they are in the shop; or he can continue to eat theft losses. If you can think of a fourth choice, I for one would be glad to listen.

Incidentally, watching kids isn't free and it isn't something that shop guys like to do. The guy who's watching you has to be paid for his time and all of the bike shop guys that I've worked with would rather be doing almost anything other than watching for shoplifters.
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Old 05-25-09, 03:29 PM   #5
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I detect a distinct "anti-youth" ambience in this thread.
"most kids around your age try to steal stuff, or cause trouble" What a load.

Stuff regularly 'disappears' from the quilt shop my wife works at and no Young People ever go in there.

Hope I die before I get old.
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Old 05-25-09, 04:35 PM   #6
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Similar thing happened not to me but right in front of me...Decades ago (I was a teenager)...I went into a shop to get new tubes, there was an even younger kid just looking at the accessories on the wall behind the counter. The guy running the shop (soon Out Of Business) sold me my tubes and the kid asked something...the counter guy said "NOW what is it?" An additional impression at that shop was they had a sign that said "Campagnolo spoken here." I still have a bit of a prejudice against the roadie elitists. Maybe I do hold a grudge?
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Old 05-25-09, 05:02 PM   #7
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Let's face it, you were just looking at bikes and at an LBS to boot. Very few children your age are going to be able to afford one of those bikes, especially when you don't have a parent with you.

I have worked in retail and people your age are some of the worst to deal with. They tend to not be around to buy anything but just want to look and don't realise that 'playing' with something is sometimes very bad. I'm not saying that you would do this.

The store guy was probably out of line for saying he might kick your butt out. But it would have helped if you had talked to him and he might have actually taken you seriously.
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Old 05-25-09, 05:03 PM   #8
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Not that it makes things right but he might have sized you up as not being potential income? It is also true that he may have thought you were up to no good, either reason is bad for business IMO. As a shop owner he should have greeted you like any other customer & saw what he could have done for you. Not only has he lost any future sale he might have with you but perhaps your friends also as I'm sure you told them about your treatment.

We had a similar shop like that around here. I would see the same treatment toward teens & basically anyone not looking at the $2,000 plus road bikes. That shop is now out of business.
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Old 05-25-09, 05:08 PM   #9
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I detect a distinct "anti-youth" ambience in this thread.
"most kids around your age try to steal stuff, or cause trouble" What a load.

Stuff regularly 'disappears' from the quilt shop my wife works at and no Young People ever go in there.

Hope I die before I get old.
Meh, I never said they all do...just that some do and ruin it for all the good kids. I also said his reaction was wrong, just understandable if he's experienced problems with theft and vandalism.
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Old 05-25-09, 05:10 PM   #10
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So did you buy anything?

What do you think the bike shop owner should do? One doesn't have to be in the business for very long before you find stuff missing or empty point-of-purchase packaging in the dressing room. Kids really do steal stuff from the bike shop. Now the bike shop owner is faced with an unpleasant choice. He can restrict kids from coming into the bike shop; he can watch the kids while they are in the shop; or he can continue to eat theft losses. If you can think of a fourth choice, I for one would be glad to listen.

Incidentally, watching kids isn't free and it isn't something that shop guys like to do. The guy who's watching you has to be paid for his time and all of the bike shop guys that I've worked with would rather be doing almost anything other than watching for shoplifters.
What does him actually making a purchase or not have anything to do with anything? Do you make a purchase in every store you enter? If not would you like to be considered a potential trouble maker/thief for not purchasing something? Alienating customers without having a reason other than he's a teen is bad business.
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Old 05-25-09, 05:24 PM   #11
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Let's face it, you were just looking at bikes and at an LBS to boot. Very few children your age are going to be able to afford one of those bikes, especially when you don't have a parent with you.

I have worked in retail and people your age are some of the worst to deal with. They tend to not be around to buy anything but just want to look and don't realise that 'playing' with something is sometimes very bad. I'm not saying that you would do this.

The store guy was probably out of line for saying he might kick your butt out. But it would have helped if you had talked to him and he might have actually taken you seriously.
+1

The guy didn't have to put things so harshly, but it's a business, not a museum. Even we older people get the evil eye from time to time when we show up and just look around. There's no way for the guy to know if you're an avid rider or just starting out, and these LBS's tend to stock bikes that are worth as much as a small car - even a little ding or nick in the paint can bring the value down, above and beyond the theft potential other people have brought up.

They DO want to sell you a bike, that's what they're there for, but they know who typically has the means - and it's kid's parents, not the kids themselves. Had you approached him and mentioned your interest, asked serious questions about the kind of ride you're looking for, I suspect he may have warmed up to you.

May not seem fair right now, but when you're working age, you'll "get" what people mean. There will be more people welcoming you with open arms to spend your cash than you might be comfortable with. Enjoy these days of "pressure-free" browsing while they last!!!
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Old 05-25-09, 05:26 PM   #12
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It simply because most kids around your age try to steal stuff, or cause trouble. Thats just how it is, and i'm the same way when kids come into the gas station i work at, and so is everyone i work with.

Best bet is to simply talk to the owner and let him know your serious about cycling and your not going to cause any trouble, and get to know them so your welcomed into the shop, rather that considered a potential thief or trouble maker...
Nope. Not true. Plus he doesn't realize that the kids could be his future sales. We have bicycle shops around town here trying to turn high school kids onto cycling because the owners know that the kids will then ask their parents for a new bike.
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Old 05-25-09, 05:39 PM   #13
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You know the owner would be the OP's best friend if he showed up to the store with a fist full of cash.
Treating kids this way due to the actions of a minority of children is silly but par for the course.
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Old 05-25-09, 05:48 PM   #14
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What does him actually making a purchase or not have anything to do with anything? Do you make a purchase in every store you enter? If not would you like to be considered a potential trouble maker/thief for not purchasing something? Alienating customers without having a reason other than he's a teen is bad business.
Might be a slight tad off-topic, but only in the US do we consider it ok to walk in and browse and waste shopkeeper's time. It's considered bad form in Europe to just walk in and look around and walk back out without at least greeting the shopkeeper/inquiring about an item/making a purchase. Time is money. Hence, why many don't "get" why Americans have such a bad rep when they travel abroad, unless they brush up on this piece of etiquette first. No one's obligated to buy something, they don't chain you to the register, but they don't expect that you'd waste your own time if you weren't serious. It's on the same lines of showing up at a nice sit-down restaurant with your own fast-food feedbag in tow. People just don't do that.

We take for granted that we have umpteen million "Big Box" choices for purchasing most things. If you don't patronize one place, the guy running the shop figures someone else will eventually be along and replace your potential purchase. For every potential $500 "teen" purchase that he might turn away by his suspicious approach, there's a $2800 Madone that will ride out at the end of the week. It isn't really rocket science from the shop guy's perspective.

You ever been in a restaurant just two of you at the table and then a big party shows up and suddenly you can't get the server to bring you so much as a napkin? Same thing. When 14 year-olds who wander into LBS's start buying serious bikes with their own cash, you'll see that change.
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Old 05-25-09, 05:50 PM   #15
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When I tell my son, now 21, about mailboxes in our neighborhood smashed by 'kids', he asks me "How do you know adults didn't do it?"
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Old 05-25-09, 06:08 PM   #16
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Might be a slight tad off-topic, but only in the US do we consider it ok to walk in and browse and waste shopkeeper's time. It's considered bad form in Europe to just walk in and look around and walk back out without at least greeting the shopkeeper/inquiring about an item/making a purchase. Time is money. Hence, why many don't "get" why Americans have such a bad rep when they travel abroad, unless they brush up on this piece of etiquette first. No one's obligated to buy something, they don't chain you to the register, but they don't expect that you'd waste your own time if you weren't serious. It's on the same lines of showing up at a nice sit-down restaurant with your own fast-food feedbag in tow. People just don't do that.

We take for granted that we have umpteen million "Big Box" choices for purchasing most things. If you don't patronize one place, the guy running the shop figures someone else will eventually be along and replace your potential purchase. For every potential $500 "teen" purchase that he might turn away by his suspicious approach, there's a $2800 Madone that will ride out at the end of the week. It isn't really rocket science from the shop guy's perspective.

You ever been in a restaurant just two of you at the table and then a big party shows up and suddenly you can't get the server to bring you so much as a napkin? Same thing. When 14 year-olds who wander into LBS's start buying serious bikes with their own cash, you'll see that change.
You do make an interesting point.

Anyone working retail develops skills in spotting folks that are only there to occupy your time and not buy anything. Right here on the forums I've read posters suggesting going to a local bike shop to try on shoes, then buy them online. I've had customers call me on the phone and ask for instructions on how to repair something so they didn't have to pay me. The polite brushoff becomes a refined art.

Although none of that is illegal, in some US states it is grounds for shoplifting to be in a store with no money to spend. Apparently the law sees that as evidence enough of intent to steal since most shoplifters will ditch the merchandise as soon as they realize they're busted.

Still, I agree with the posts about treating kids poorly being a mistake. I was a kid once too, and although a shopkeeper might make it very clear that no monkeybusiness will be tolerated, none of them were outright mean to me. They gained my respect and I've been a fan of shops ever since.
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Old 05-25-09, 06:09 PM   #17
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Nope. Not true. Plus he doesn't realize that the kids could be his future sales. We have bicycle shops around town here trying to turn high school kids onto cycling because the owners know that the kids will then ask their parents for a new bike.
Or, the owners understand that 16-yr-olds are old enough to work enough hours to have enough disposable income to throw down on a bike AND have the parents as back-up for add-ons and repairs. I've seen this scenario play out much more often than mom & dad simply shelling out 100%. At 14, the OP isn't the demographic your local shops are likely catering to with the high school campaign.

Not to say you don't have a point about the future sales in terms of people trusting the people who work there and recommend things - but again, bike shops are businesses. A road bike today is a road bike today, two years from now the demand will be totally different. This is why I see so many cruisers and Dutch wannabes right now - another couple of years and the pendulum will swing yet again and it won't really matter that the OP was looking at such-and-so today because they probably won't stock it.
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Old 05-25-09, 06:13 PM   #18
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It's a good thing that shopkeepers didn't treat me poorly.

When I was 12 I'd worked the entire Summer for my Dad doing construction. That Fall he paid me in full. Mom took me to the bike shop where I picked out every single part for a custom bike and paid cash.
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Old 05-25-09, 07:22 PM   #19
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The LBS near me is pretty tolerant of my kids anyway though they did get rid of the crayons from the tall table after my son fell off the stool.
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Old 05-25-09, 08:35 PM   #20
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Now the bike shop owner is faced with an unpleasant choice. He can restrict kids from coming into the bike shop; he can watch the kids while they are in the shop; or he can continue to eat theft losses. If you can think of a fourth choice, I for one would be glad to listen.
Sometimes it's a lot easier to say what's wrong than it is to say what's right. What should the bike shop owner do? Several folks have taken me to task but not a single one has suggested a fourth choice.
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Old 05-25-09, 08:52 PM   #21
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When I was 14 I got a job, saved about a grand (inflation adjusted), and got my first real MTB (Suntour XC LTD baby).

At an LBS that treated me like a customer when I walked in the door.

Shop Owner = FAIL.
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Old 05-25-09, 09:13 PM   #22
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When you walk in say "Hi" and if they ask "Can I help you?" you can reply by saying "It's OK, I'm just looking while Mom is at another store".

Tension gone via a little polite conversation.

Even as an adult I get the 'stink eye' if I just wander in to a store, so I use this tactic to be polite and to let them know not to fuss over me as a potential sale or trouble maker.
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Old 05-25-09, 09:45 PM   #23
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"Don't touch anything or I'll kick your butt out"
This is rude, regardless of who just entered the store. From reading this thread, I guess it is acceptable to treat kids like crap. No wonder they hate adults.

I was a bit of a trouble maker as a teenager and if a manager had spoken to me like this, I probably would have taken a whiz on the floor, and then pushed the bikes over.
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Old 05-25-09, 09:56 PM   #24
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When I was 14 I got a job, saved about a grand (inflation adjusted), and got my first real MTB (Suntour XC LTD baby).

At an LBS that treated me like a customer when I walked in the door.

Shop Owner = FAIL.
+1, only it was a Kuwahara BMX and skyway rims. ahhh the 80's.
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Old 05-25-09, 10:44 PM   #25
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Sometimes it's a lot easier to say what's wrong than it is to say what's right. What should the bike shop owner do? Several folks have taken me to task but not a single one has suggested a fourth choice.
Here's a fourth option, Retro Grouch: Provide exceptional customer service.

I know that may sound silly to some, but it's not. It starts with a simple, polite greeting that acknowledges the customer's presence. Most folks feel welcomed by this, but the potential shoplifter is annoyed from the onset. Good CS involves a high level of positive interaction between staff and customers throughout the visit. When staff/clerks get lazy and just let customers wander around, the store is setting itself up; the potential buyer may feel ignored, unappreciated, or otherwise snubbed, resulting in the possible loss of sales or future visits...and the potential shoplifter is given the privacy s/he needs. That same shoplifter will most likely walk out of or never bother with stores that may seem overattentive. They like stores that don't "bug" them or whose staff are too involved in tasks to take notice.

It's a proven loss prevention strategy. Unfortunately, there are too many retailers...large and small...that have yet to employ it. They think profiling or wearing smocks that ask "How May I Help You" printed on the back is the answer; if you could see their shrink %, you'd see it's not. I'm sure the owner/staffmember referenced by the OP has his reasons for his approach, but he'd probably do the shop (and possibly cycling) a favor if he'd either refine his tactics or adopt a different strategy.
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