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  1. #1
    information sponge
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    How to help your LBS help you

    I was responding to another thread, and I realized this could use it's own thread.

    Some of you may be wondering why your lbs doesn't stock all the parts you want, or why they make you buy more of something than you actually need.

    The fact of the matter is that inventory costs money, and stocking inventory that won't sell is the equivalent of sticking a stack of $100 bills on the shelf and letting them rot. There's a fine balance to strike between stocking everything your customers want and keeping enough money loose to order what you can't anticipate your customers wanting.

    Furthermore, the bicycle industry is so focused on the next new thing that it is extremely un-profitable to keep around old stock that MIGHT someday sell at full price if you can blow it out the door and recoup some cash to order the new stuff that you'll actually sell soon. There are a VERY FEW shops out there that can afford to stock old stuff. There are several in Madison, WI. I walked into Budget Bicycle Center and found more NOS mountain bike stuff than I could have ever dreamed existed. Yellow Jersey is well known for having obscure old stuff you wouldn't imagine you could find new (individual freewheel cogs? you bet!). They're the exceptions, and they are able to afford to do it for one two reasons.

    1. They have a large-scale reputation for having esoteric stuff.
    2. Their NOS inventory is subsidised by massive sales of other things somehow.

    There are other shops that focus on very specific things and have amazing inventories of things that other shops wouldn't ever have (not because they don't want to) like that Suzue Promax CF hubset you've been lusting over. The shop I work at probably won't ever have a pair sitting on the shelf, because that isn't our focus. We can get them for you, and we will be happy to do so, but we just don't have them. On the other hand, if you're looking for a Tour-Easy recumbent in your size, we've probably got it. Yojimbo's doesn't. If you are fortunate enough to have a shop in your area that specializes in the facet of riding that you are into, it's likely you'll find parts that you want in stock.


    you may wonder why your LBS doesn't have the colored spoke nipples you want, and they won't sell you the exact number you need. The fact of the matter is that colored bits are very personal, and you don't tend to sell much of them, and they're expensive. If they sell you 32 blue nipples and 32 red nipples, they've got 68 red nipples and 68 blue nipples gathering dust in the shop, tying up money that could be spent on innertubes that will actually sell quickly.


    So all that said, how do you help your shop help you?

    1. Be willing to wait for an order to come in rather than jumping immediately to the internet to solve all your problems. Most shops can get you better turn-around on special order items than you'll get ordering them on the internet.

    2. Be willing to pay a little more to get exactly what you want. If a shop orders 12 of an item, they're going to get a better deal than they will if they order one of the same item. Different sizes of the same item don't usually count for bulk buying, so they're far more likely to buy sizes they think they'll sell than they are to buy sizes they won't sell as much of.

    3. Be willing to help create the market. The fact of the matter is that shop owners are not mind-readers. They will never start to stock the items you're looking for if you don't ask for them. Women's specific products have come to be part of the market because there was money to be made in the sales of such items. Someone somewhere started asking people to start making them.


    Your local bike shop can only survive and provide you with the services you need if you actually spend money and time and help them help you instead of buying things off the internet.
    Philosophy and feelings don't change the laws of physics

  2. #2
    Doortrapper popluhv's Avatar
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    Good stuff.

  3. #3
    Senior Member LoveParkRIP's Avatar
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    Well said.

    I am new at my shop, and I see so much potential. I was trying to get a general idea of what this relatively small niche of the cycling world looks for at their LBS. I think it's important to check with the public and ask what it is they look for the most. Sure, it's easy enough to place orders, and on those unique ocasions where somebody needs a extremely large/small size or some obscure color, we are always here to help. Like treechunk said, help yor LBS help you.

  4. #4
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    I said the same thing until I moved to VT.
    If you dont internet, you are not riding.

  5. #5
    puvpntb
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    I think you really hit the nail on the head treechunk.

    It seems that the traditional LBS has gone through the same growing pains as every other industry affected by the internet and "globalization" in general. There are some LBS' which can never be duplicated online in terms of service, knowledge and experience. Online shopping is just another tool, its not a panacea for something as tangible and social as bikes - but it can be a useful tool at the same time. Support your LBS, support all the honest businesses you can.

  6. #6
    Doortrapper popluhv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by -=£em in Pa=-
    I said the same thing until I moved to VT.
    If you dont internet, you are not riding.
    Yeah, I hear that. Where in VT are you?

  7. #7
    Hello. crushkilldstroy's Avatar
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    i wholeheartedly agree with this. if they don't know you want it, they aren't going to stock it. so yeah, utilize that special ordering option enough and they'll carry it. i've found that my lbs can often match or at least get close to the prices i can find online. tax usually ends up costing about as much as shipping, and it often arrives faster than if i ordered it from nashbar.

    one more thing that's somewhat on subject....

    when you special order something, for the love of christ pick it up. i haven't worked in a bike shop before, but i've worked retail long enough to be pissed off when people don't come back for their product. there's nothing worse than johnny nobody special ordering some random thing that nobody else needs and then never coming back for it.

    and a comment that's completely off subject....

    gregg sure uses a lot of them fancy $10 words.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jacquie Phelan
    Until mountain biking came along, the bike scene was ruled by a small elite cadre of people who seemed allergic to enthusiasm.

  8. #8
    Senior Member jamey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crushkilldstroy
    gregg sure uses a lot of them fancy $10 words.
    haha i was thinking the same thing. don't worry gregg, we won't be grading your BF posts.

  9. #9
    MADE IN TAIWAN wangster's Avatar
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    It helps if you are friendly with the lbs or just go to a certain one so they know your face and they'll be more likely to give you a better price. I don't go to my lbs that often, just sometimes when theres something that I can't do myself or don't have the tool for it and they know me and know that I'll go to them if I need it and when they order stuff for me, it's always been same competative pricing as the online stores so I'm not missing out and if I pay cash, I dont' get charged tax plus no shipping so it comes out cheaper than online at the end.

    lbs don't generally make a lot of money on parts, but they are willing to order for you and make a little, so its worth your while to go there and give them some business and they'll help you out when you make the big purchases.
    "Oh, I see. Running away, eh? You yellow bastard. Come back here and take what's coming to you. I'll bite your legs off."

  10. #10
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    just to play devil's advocate... it could also be that some local bike stores markup significantly the same item i can get online, in the same amount of time and have delivered to my doorstep without having to deal with lycra-clad morons who don't have a clue what you're talking about in the first place. i'd rather order online from someone who actually has he products i want, and experience dealing with them.

  11. #11
    Senior Member mattface's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by -=£em in Pa=-
    I said the same thing until I moved to VT.
    If you dont internet, you are not riding.
    LEM I know just what you mean, but if you're ever up in Burlington, check out Old Spokes home.

    I finally made it up there, and their inventory is a bit down because it's the beginning of Feb, but they still had the basic fixed gear stuff I can't find in stock anywhere else around here, and they also carry a lot of stuff for older bikes. They've got a HUGE collection of older bikes in the upstairs area. Seriously more than I could take in. Everything from old Rod brake english 3-speeds to 80s road bikes, 50s cruisers. basically bikes of just about every description except new upstairs, and downstairs the new stuff included Soma, and Surly.

  12. #12
    05 Roubaix Comp Double
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    Sorry. I go the lbs and they dont have it i'll go to a few others. If they dont,its online for me.
    Touch every 3rd person and you'll find an idiot.

  13. #13
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    I would say 50% of my purchases come from the LBS. Most consumables like tires, chains, cleats I buy online because they are a lot cheaper and I'm always buying them. My shop can't even buy Look Keo cleats because the distributor has a minimum order and I'm the only one that uses them and the LBS told me to go buy them online somewhere.

    On the other hand, I'll buy my rims, spokes, bars, stem, non-consumable items from the shop. Being loyal to the shop has its rewards like free stand time, friendship, advice, and free stuff!

  14. #14
    Senior Member auroch's Avatar
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    I actually just bought a rack and a set of panniers from Treetrunk's
    store. I knew next to nothing about touring stuff, but I knew that
    that LBS specializes in commuting & touring stuff. In the end I got a ton
    of help on what I needed including how to install my rack (plus a few
    bits & pieces to make it work).

    Just now I checked online and the LBS sold the panniers at a lower
    price than online and while the rack was a bit more it was definitely
    worth the extra dough getting help in rigging it. Further I know for
    sure that I would've bought inferior products if I depended on just
    the internet. Also I'd rather spend my weekends riding instead of
    sitting on my computer like I do all week.

    cheers,
    jeff

  15. #15
    King Among Runaways hyperRevue's Avatar
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    I guess I'm pretty lucky.
    Between my two LBSes I can get pretty much any track specific thing I need right away.
    The internet is left for ridiculous deals on very expensive stuff (hello new 75s from MUD) and/or superfulous stuff (hello sella italia saddle from Chucks).
    I try to be very loyal to my LBSes.
    "I owe everyone an apology" - hyperrevue

  16. #16
    bicycle fetishist
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattface
    LEM I know just what you mean, but if you're ever up in Burlington, check out Old Spokes home.

    I finally made it up there, and their inventory is a bit down because it's the beginning of Feb, but they still had the basic fixed gear stuff I can't find in stock anywhere else around here, and they also carry a lot of stuff for older bikes. They've got a HUGE collection of older bikes in the upstairs area. Seriously more than I could take in. Everything from old Rod brake english 3-speeds to 80s road bikes, 50s cruisers. basically bikes of just about every description except new upstairs, and downstairs the new stuff included Soma, and Surly.
    I'm fortunate enough to live about a mile from Old Spokes, who have helped me numerous times in finding parts that are used and also work(!), not to mention letting me use some specialized tools for free. I also ordered my Steamroller frame from them, which went very well.

  17. #17
    we're here, we steer!! mrRed's Avatar
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    I love shopping at my LBS, and getting to shoot the **** about bikes there. There's nothing like getting excited about parts, and seeing the parts you've been contemplating on a bike that the shop owner rides, abuses and races. Plus, if you're a good customer, they'll do a lot of legwork for you in finding what you want in the most ass backwards places as well as not making you put down deposits, which is really freaking sweet.

    I <3 my local LBS.
    Culture? Art? Making a difference? Hey, go **** yourself. We're too busy drinking, doing drugs, trying to **** random people and you want us to make money on top of all that? Really?

    Well, ****. I don't give a ****.

  18. #18
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by popluhv
    Yeah, I hear that. Where in VT are you?
    Im right outside of Rutland in the thriving metropolis of Proctor.
    Are you close by ?

    Quote Originally Posted by mattface
    LEM I know just what you mean, but if you're ever up in Burlington, check out Old Spokes home.
    Thanks ! I will check them out. Im in Burlington occasionally. I found a really
    neat one in Rochester, right off Rt. 100 around Pittsfield and Killington called
    Green Mountain Cycles.
    The rest of them are all new TREK, Schwinn etc that gets cleared out to make
    room for ski-snowboard stuff in November, but Im sure your aware of that
    already If I went in and asked for a cog lockring they wouldt have any
    idea what I was tlaking about. New stuff or nothing....Oh yeah, I forgot...Battenkill
    Sports in Manchester is real cool...a real, year 'round shop but its 32 miles away
    from me Vermont...Great place to ride, bad place to build or break stuff.

  19. #19
    puvpntb
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    Ok, I'll try this again, using less $10 words:

    Bike shops are hurting because the internet steals customers. Shop at your local bike shop because they offer benefits you can't get online.

    ****

  20. #20
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    if you want your lbs to help you, i'd reccomend not throwing poo at them.

  21. #21
    Doortrapper popluhv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by -=£em in Pa=-
    Im right outside of Rutland in the thriving metropolis of Proctor.
    Are you close by ?
    I guess not, but if you are looking for good equipment, the TreadMill in Potsdam NY has some good stuff. It is about twice as far away from you as Burlington.

  22. #22
    The Red Lantern Rev.Chuck's Avatar
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    Wow. What a positive thread. Being a regular really helps. I like having customers back and we try to have or get what everyone wants at a price that they can afford and will keep us in business.
    If you want a shop to carry something fairly specific, and you have freinds looking for the same thing, tell the shop you know some other guys that are really interested in the Sturmey Archer 45mm shift pins, and they will get them if you stock them. That is really how we started stocking parts for fixed conversions and single speeds. It is not a money maker, but there are people that want to hold it before they buy it and we are the only guys that have any of that stuff and like talking about it.

    If you think a part, or labor is to much try not to snicker and roll your eyes, this is not the way to a good deal. Just say you can't afford it. You might get a deal that way.
    Are you a registered member? Why not? click here to register. Its free, and only takes 27 seconds!
    Help out the forums, abide by our community guidelines.

    I am in the woods and I have gone crazy.

  23. #23
    Senior Member rvabiker's Avatar
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    After spending $1000+ at my LBS and getting ready to spend at least that much again and then going in there a couple times and having them act like I'm in their way, I buy everything I can online. They lost a lot of business becuase of ****ty sales people and they'll never know.

  24. #24
    i am sure that i hate you spud's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rvabiker
    After spending $1000+ at my LBS and getting ready to spend at least that much again and then going in there a couple times and having them act like I'm in their way, I buy everything I can online. They lost a lot of business becuase of ****ty sales people and they'll never know.
    who is/was your LBS?
    putting the pi back in pirate!
    Itís an upstanding member of the solar system
    Apply the laws of earth and make it a victim
    Of Proposition 187

  25. #25
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    This is a no-brainer, but try to frequent your LBS at non-peak hours or during the off-season for custom orders or other stuff that requires "personal" attention. A lot of my family & friends gripe about lbss crappy service, but they always show up at 6:00pm in the middle of May after not riding for 5 months, and expect to be able to get face time w/ their favorite mech or salesman and a quick turn around time. Use your head, now is the perfect time to talk shop at the lbs, as most (that is those who don't convert to a ski shop for the winter) are dying for business and are happy to have a customer to pay attention to (assuming you buy something)

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