This is just a random post about my thoughts on my LBS. I really want to support my LBSs. There are several good ones in my area and I want to help them stay in business. However, sometimes I feel that I’m getting price gouged. I understand that an LBS is a business and that they need to make money and that part of what comes with shopping at an LBS is some service. I get that…but when I can buy what I need online for 30% to 70% less (depending on the item), I have a hard time spending at the LBS. This creates somewhat of a moral dilemma for me.
This last weekend I needed a very common component that, IMO, should be considered somewhat of a commodity part. I knew exactly what I needed so there was no need for and extensive conversation with a tech/mechanic. In my desire to support my LBS I started calling around but not a single shop had this part. They all offered to order it for me, which is great, but I would have to go to the store and pay for the item and then go back and pick it up after it arrived at the store. The lowest price I could find on this item was $65 + tax. Thinking that this was a little high, I checked online and found the exact same component for $28 + shipping. Given the small physical size of this item, the tax and shipping costs would be similar. I elected to order the part online.
I guess that my main frustration is that this is a recurring pattern. Sometimes the % difference in cost is not as extreme as this but the gap is frequently wide enough that I cannot justify buying from the LBS. Not to mention that if I order online, the item comes right to my door without having to make 2 trips to the LBS. So in some ways buying online is actually better service.
Now before everyone thinks I’m a total jerk…let me just state that if I go to an LBS and they provide some level of assistance, I always buy from the LBS, regardless of the cost. In these cases, they have earned my business by providing some level of service which I’m happy to compensate them for.
I’m just not ready to pay more than double.
I know…now I’ve succumbed to the evil free market. Let the flaming being in 3…2…1…