First, I apologize in advance if this turns into a BD sux thread.
I'd like to hear from people who own or work in a bike shop, or anyone who has insight into the industry (I don't).
How can the LBS continue to compete with the Bikesdirect model (and whoever else uses a similar business model -- I assume there are some, but dont really know who they are). I know the stock answer is "we offer more service and expertise" -- and that counts some, for some people. But people have gotten so used to buying expensive and complex items over the intertubes that I must assume that the internet bike sellers are really eating into the LBS bike sales. Maybe not?
There have been similar discussions regarding the ski industry over on Epicski.com. Some shops have responded by increasing what they charge to mount bindings on skis purchased elsewhere. Some shops are trying to make it up in services. Bootfitting is still a staple (it's generally not good to buy ski boots without a fitting). But the reality is ski shops are struggling big time. The economy, of course, doesn't help. And when I can get skis and bindings for 50% of price of my local shop by buying over the web, even if I have to pay for the mounting (some web shops will mount for free, many won't) -- hard to resist.
The BD value proposition can look very very attractive for some of their bikes -- the component groups are very solid for the price point. In fact, when a newbie goes to a bike shop to buy a bike and asks what the difference between a $500 bike and a $1200 bike is -- they almost inevitably get a response like "mostly the components" If they then go look at BD website and see those same components on a $600 bike -- what conclusion do you think they will draw. The LBS is essentially promoting the BD model to their prospective customer.
Having Target sell the Forge line of bikes at the price point they're at can't be very good for LBS business either I suppose. Users seem to have pretty favorable experiences.
Disclaimer - I have no affiliation with BD. I once owned Target stock. I have a great relationship with my LBS. That wont' keep me from at least looking at BD in a few weeks when I start shopping for a new bike for my 11 y.o. daughter.
BTW, if this has been discussed before - sorry. I searched, but couldn't find this kind of discussion among the many BD bashfests and shillfests.