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  1. #1
    Senior Member fettsvenska's Avatar
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    I want to support my LBS but…(rant coming)

    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…

  2. #2
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    ship the job to China, everyone else does ..

  3. #3
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  4. #4
    Senior Member raqball's Avatar
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    I won't flame you..

    I do see your point but I always buy from my favorite LBS and here is why..

    The owner of this LBS is just plain awesome! He always gives me discounts..

    The staff is awesome, friendly and even though it's a rather large LBS, every time I walk in the door everyone knows and calls me by my name.. I am amazed at how they remember everyone's 1st name..

    I can get what I want right now and not have to wait on the mail to deliver it..

    The mechanics at this LBS are top notch!

    I often hang out before and after the purchase and shoot the breeze with the staff. They are all very nice and friendly..

    Sure I might pay more but I want them to stay in business..

    Also, if a special order is needed, I never have to go in and pay for it in advance.. I call, they order, I pay when I pick it up..
    Last edited by raqball; 05-04-14 at 10:36 AM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member raqball's Avatar
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    Double post.. Sorry..

  6. #6
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    This is a common experience that we all have. Nothing to rant about, it's just our economy evolving into something else.

    I dunno what else, but something else...

  7. #7
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    In your case, where you know exactly what you want and nobody has it in stock, just buy online. In other cases, you may want to buy local, in cases where you don't have time to wait 4 or 5 days and the LBS has what you need in stock, or in cases where you might not know exactly what you need.

    i will say that the more I learn about bikes, that though I rely on LBS, I need them less than I used to for components and accessories.
    Last edited by MRT2; 05-04-14 at 10:49 AM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member longbeachgary's Avatar
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    IMO there is not just one shop that can meet all of our needs. For bikes (I bought 5 of them there), some consumables and service my local shop (Long Beach Cyclery) can't be beat. For most consumables and components, Performance is the place. For saddles (specifically Regals), Kings in Seal Beach is the only place that carries them. For all things Trek it's Jax.

  9. #9
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by longbeachgary View Post
    IMO there is not just one shop that can meet all of our needs. For bikes (I bought 5 of them there), some consumables and service my local shop (Long Beach Cyclery) can't be beat. For most consumables and components, Performance is the place. For saddles (specifically Regals), Kings in Seal Beach is the only place that carries them. For all things Trek it's Jax.
    Very true.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    ship the job to China, everyone else does ..
    Didn't see anything about China in the OP. The last thing that I bought turned out to come from a LBS in Des Moines. Not local to me but it's still supporting a shop in Des Moines. As a customer I don't feel an obligation to keep the bike shop guys happy. They earn their money by making me happy.
    My greatest fear is all of my kids standing around my coffin and talking about "how sensible" dad was.

  11. #11
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Was it made in Des Moines Iowa or just shipped out of there ? Taiwan is the center of Making most of the bikes these days . .

    After decades of contract manufacturing and the outside investment that entails, for supplying stuff sold under familiar brands ,
    they are quite good at it.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 05-04-14 at 04:25 PM.

  12. #12
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    The Threat or reality to send your jobs to China is the big hammer over labor & why people think bike shops are expensive..

    is their suppressed wages

    .. but thats lapsing into P&R , so I'll drop it here and take it up more , in that section... over and Out.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Was it made in Des Moines Iowa or just shipped out of there ?
    I assume it was made in the same factory as the more expensive one that I could buy from my local bike store. Why do you ask?
    My greatest fear is all of my kids standing around my coffin and talking about "how sensible" dad was.

  14. #14
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    Do you feel guilty when you do your own work instead of having your LBS do it?

  15. #15
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billyymc View Post
    Do you feel guilty when you do your own work instead of having your LBS do it?
    You mean pay somebody else to have the fun of working on my bike?
    My greatest fear is all of my kids standing around my coffin and talking about "how sensible" dad was.

  16. #16
    tcarl
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    If you have a number of bike shops in your area, shop around. I wanted an item once and found it in three different shops, priced at $15, $18 and $24. I bought it at the $15 shop.

  17. #17
    Senior Member SPiN 360's Avatar
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    The way I see it, the LBS would add value by actually having the part in stock. In that case, it could be worth spending the cash to get it right away. But if they don't have it, well, they haven't created any value for you in the market place so I don't have a problem with you buying it elsewhere.

    Here's my LBS story:
    Recently, I went into my LBS to get a new saddle for my bike. I ended up with a $120 saddle, which is commonly around $70-80 online. But in this case, the LBS definitely added a lot of value because we swapped through 3-4 saddles, I was able to get onto the trainer and ride with them, etc. After this, they performed the fitting again to ensure my positioning was correct. Considering that I saved a vast amount of time versus researching saddles on the internet and then not even being able to test them out, the LBS's higher cost is justified.

  18. #18
    Rhapsodic Laviathan
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    Personally, I hate ordering online. I always go to any of the lbs.
    The speed is break neck, faster than a high speed dual cassette tape deck.

  19. #19
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WestPablo View Post
    This is a common experience that we all have. Nothing to rant about, it's just our economy evolving into something else.
    Yep ... and if LBSs can't keep up ... oh well.

    IMO if they do want to stay in business, they've got to step up their customer service ... a huge, massive, giant leap from what it is now.



    Quote Originally Posted by longbeachgary View Post
    IMO there is not just one shop that can meet all of our needs.
    Yep ... we get our stuff from everywhere. From all over the world.

  20. #20
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    This is the dilemma that we all face at some time. I have found that much of what I buy locally is priced very reasonably. But, like you, I have seen some items that were very expensive at the LBS. Some things like Assos gear I only buy if heavily discounted and that's never at the LBS if you can even find them. For me it has always been a day to day juggling act. I do try to support my LBS though and I have noticed they all seem to be doing well.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Yardbent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    .....
    IMO if they do want to stay in business, they've got to step up their customer service ... a huge, massive, giant leap from what it is now..............
    perhaps my position is not unusual

    live in farmland - no LBS - nearest is in Glasgow 20miles away...but no car

    1....emailed said Glasgow shop ref building me some wheels ..........no reply
    2....last Monday phoned a 'Classic Bike' shop - good chat about buying a crankset
    he promised to send an invoice [by email] for a Bank Transfer [as doesn't take Debit Cards....]
    ------------still waiting...

    from comfort of my home last night - ordered similar crankset from eBay [cheaper] - paid [over a Bank Holiday] delivery due Wednesday

    No contest.!

  22. #22
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yardbent View Post
    perhaps my position is not unusual

    live in farmland - no LBS - nearest is in Glasgow 20miles away...but no car

    1....emailed said Glasgow shop ref building me some wheels ..........no reply
    2....last Monday phoned a 'Classic Bike' shop - good chat about buying a crankset
    he promised to send an invoice [by email] for a Bank Transfer [as doesn't take Debit Cards....]
    ------------still waiting...

    from comfort of my home last night - ordered similar crankset from eBay [cheaper] - paid [over a Bank Holiday] delivery due Wednesday

    No contest.!

    We lived for many years way out in rural Australia, with the nearest bicycle shop 100 km away.

    We had two choices ...

    1) Go to bicycle shops who usually did not have what we wanted, and would provide us with the really helpful offer that they would order it at quite a high cost, that we would have to wait 6 weeks for it to come in, and that we would have to drive 200 km round trip (again) to get it when it came in ...

    2) Order our stuff online, without having to deal with untrained salespeople, and have exactly what we wanted delivered to our door within a week ... for significantly less money.


    The only time we would buy anything from a bicycle shop was if we happened to be in the area for another reason and if they happened to have something we wanted in stock at that moment. We rarely bought anything from a bicycle shop.

    I also get a little tired of the untrained sales people. I have worked retail and have had to go through training at each different place before they'd let me out on the floor. I get a little tired of the attitude, the rudeness, the poor stock knowledge, and the general lack of customer service.

  23. #23
    Senior Member mr,grumpy's Avatar
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    This is my take on the LBS issue, and any local business for that matter. If you buy from a local guy you are buying the item, the service and the knowledge. You are buying the ease of return or repair. You are buying it now and IN THE FUTURE. For every one. You know how to put air in your tires? Great! Regular Mechanic that you are. Put your own air in. Order your air from the internet, it's cheeper by far. But, in three month when your bottom bracket crumbles away don't be shocked to see the storefront that used to be a bike shop shuttered. If you are at the "air i the tires" level you're not fixing a bottom bracket yourself. Not easily. Not cheaply. Now what? Buy a new bike (from where: you helped run the bike shop out of business)? Quit riding and take up X-Box?

    That being said, I'm not paying retail for things like cables and such and I often find the selection at MY LBS lacking. They don't always know what I'm talking about when I ask for stuff and aren't always interested in finding out. In fact at MY LBS the only thing that the seem interested in is selling new road bikes to roadies, but I think that that is a demographic type of thing. Still, having them there is better than not.
    "I'm built like a marine mammal. I love the cold! "-Cosmoline
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    My little bike blog.

  24. #24
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    I buy wherever it makes sense for me. Sometimes the decision is strictly financial, and sometimes it is for other reasons, like to buy from people who support cycling in the local area.

    I lean toward buying at one of the two shops that I use regularly (the two closest to me) so that someone in my community benefits from the money I spend (the other side of the equation). My area is suffering financially in virtually all sectors, so even though I do spend some money online, I keep at least some of my money local. I don't mind spending more when I look at the broader impact.

    Plus, when I need advice, or some quick service, I know where to go to get good treatment.
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

    People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.
    - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  25. #25
    Newbie
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    My big city (500,000) has only one true bike shop. There is a smaller place, but he doesn't have much in stock. There are many shops in other nearby cities, but that would mean a 15-20 minute drive or more. There are also none of the co-ops where you can get DIY help. I don't have a workshop or garage anymore(divorce). I work in a big city with many bike shops, but there aren't any shops within 15-20 minute drive of there either.

    I decided recently I wanted a compact double, for my older bike with a 7 speed drive train. I found the part online cheap. So instead of taking it to my local shop, I researched some alternatives. There was a guy on CL advertising mobile repairs. I got an estimate from him - $80, and a couple of days without the bike. Thought that was about what I'd get charged at the LBS, and a similar timeline. Finally I found another guy, one man operation working out of his house.

    Contacted him, he said it would be about an hour, and his rate was $35. I came by on a Saturday morning and he wasn't busy. I was impressed when I got to his shop, which was part of his basement, well laid out, organized., and a steel ramp to get bikes down the stairs. Turns out he used to own a bike shop, went into another business, and retired. He installed the crank quickly enough, but then took his time adjusting the derailleur, and had to move the front derailleur down. He was happy to have me there with him, explained everything he did, told me what to check for in case my crank needed tightening after being ridden hard.

    He did the job while I waited, was friendly, knowledgeable, great to work with. That is someone I will do business with again. I will get my parts where I can.

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