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Why do we call the big chain stores "LBS"?

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Why do we call the big chain stores "LBS"?

Old 08-17-15, 11:02 PM
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Why do we call the big chain stores "LBS"?

Performance
Mike's Bikes
Other's?

I don't think of these as Local Bike Shops. Saying they are is the same as saying McDonald's is a local restaurant.

I live in Portland, but on the "wrong side of the ridge" for bike shops. It's really suburbia west of downtown, with suburban type bike shops. Bike shops with lots of boxed bikes. The Latest and Greatest gizmos. Advice straight out of advertising or TdF commercials. Fixed prices for "tune-ups".

My local bike shops are on the other side of the hill, and although I can get to half a dozen shops much quicker, I can still ride to them. I see them working on bikes, helping people with their commuter bikes get safely to work, showing them how to fix small things themselves, taking time to teach, coach, and encourage. A lot of them don't care much for racing, don't follow the TdF much, and have a bunch of old parts in good shape that they can put on budget conscious bikes that get ridden. One supports the local amateur cyclocross scene. Another is an up and coming 650b frame builder who isn't too big yet to pass on frame repairs and custom racks. Another does sell higher end stuff, Brompton's and lots woolen undies and pretty much the full line of Carradice bags in stock. Higher end stuff, yes, but made to be ridden. And the only all-Rivendell shop outside of Walnut Creek, CA that I know of.

They're not in business to get rich or get ahead, but just want a good life, well earned. It's a lifestyle choice, not a job.

I try to spend my money at these Local Bike Shops.

Just one fella's opinion.
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Old 08-17-15, 11:21 PM
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I don't know anyone who calls Performance or REI an LBS. But there is a whole generation or two of consumers who only know of homogenized retailing, where it is product sales 1st, accessories 2nd, and service 3rd.


EDIT
I am an REI fan boy. Been so for 45 years! We tried to recruit them to Ann Arbor around 1990, but they didn't open up a store there until about 2005.

People who work there are knowledgable, passionate, and mature. Before I had a bench vise, I would bring my tool and rim and they would remove the freewheel gratis.

Also, when the 20% coupons are offered, I always pick up another B-17 saddle.

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Old 08-17-15, 11:36 PM
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Wow, that's a pretty idyllic scenario you put out there.

While rei may not be an LBS, the ones I've been to(and one is opening in my town this fall) have a lot of really useful products that aren't carried by the bike shops in my town.
REI does full service repairs and sell everything from commuters to touring bikes to carbon roadies.
They carry panniers and everything you would need for touring under one roof.
Their selection for adventure cycling is much better than anything in town right now.


I love the bike shops in town that help out on the spot and help solve the issue with the option for me to buy from them. I may not buy that particular item from then, but I do buy from yhem plenty overall.
The ones I like sell everything from full carbon to commuters to kids bikes to mtbs and of course hybrids.


Seems to me that if a bike shop were to sell to only vintage folk with an eye to the better and simpler times, they wouldn't last long. Catering to ALL types of cyclists is going to help ensure your business is around for years to come. It just makes the most sense.
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Old 08-18-15, 12:47 AM
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If you live in a town with more than a half dozen bike shops (of any variety) you are spoiled and I am jealous
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Old 08-18-15, 03:25 AM
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I don't have any chain bike shops in my area, but there are some LBS type places around. Pretty good stores, I guess.
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Old 08-18-15, 03:37 AM
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If you are ever in the Xenia, Kettering (Dayton), or Centerville areas in Ohio, check out K&G bike shops.
They remind me of my time working in a Schwinn shop in the '80's. Love of bike first - and really caring about the experience of the customer on the bike. Service area is 1/2 the store. That is what I think about when I hear LBS.

The folks at K&G have fun cycling, and want their customers to share some of that joy.
That goes a long way!!

(BTW: Mention my name, and they will throw you out )
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Old 08-18-15, 03:47 AM
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The nearest town to me has a population base of over 200,000 and has exactly two LBS and no big bicycle chain stores unless you consider Dick's Sporting Goods, Target or Walmart a bicycle chain store. One store is decent size and does a decent job of trying to cater to everyone, they are going into their third generation of family ownership, been around since the late 1950's early 1960's. The other is much smaller and caters to mainly MTB and road riders. The last couple of times I was in there they had nothing for the commuter or recreational cyclist. Their attitude doesn't help much either. The first store is the one I deal with. They seldom have what I typically purchase in stock but are more than happy to order it for me. It isn't really their fault, the things I typically order are pretty far away from the standard cycling fare that is being offered today.

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Old 08-18-15, 05:21 AM
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Around here, "Performance" is a car dealership, and "Mike's" is a car wash chain. I wouldn't consider a bicycle establishment that had more than 2-3 locations to be an LBS.
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Old 08-18-15, 05:38 AM
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Being in the Atlanta suburbs, I guess I can call myself spoiled...local to me, we have...

Two Performance stores (and several more in the greater ATL area)

At least Four REI's

And...our LBS stores...each one with a bit different eclectic...

Roswell Bikes - recently named by Bicycling Magazine as the second best bike store in the US...not sure I agree with that assessment...but...they do work with people quite well

Alpha Bikes - also in Bicycling's top 50...and my shop of choice...have gotten to know the service guys...and they do a good job on my oddball jobs

Bike Doctor - was my choice...but...as a very small shop, they, interestingly, do not seem to really care about bikes...you get more of a "Performance" churn and burn type feel

Atlanta Bike Tech - a bit further away...but...a dedication to C&V type bikes...the guy that owns it really does prefer older bikes and knows how to work on them...he gets my business for my really odd jobs

There are a couple more within a few miles of my house, but I do not frequent them in any way...one specializes almost exclusively on modern Trek and the other one is basically a mountain bike shop...so...for those folks, good specialists there...


Yes...I would consider myself lucky to have this selection...


As for the title of this thread...I also do not consider Performance and/or REI to be "LBS"...
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Old 08-18-15, 06:06 AM
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Well, "local" pertains to geographic proximity, and "bike shop" pertains to bikes.

Is Performance a local bike shop? Yes, if it's local to you. Their service department, here, is busy. LBS to many.
I've never gotten any work done there, but the employees seem knowledgeable, and I like the clearance table.

Is REI a local bike shop? I repeat myself. I've had wheels built there, and also seen them break 3 Park gear pullers on my bike, no charge, and rebuild a DA 6-sp freewheel with a wider range for one of my relatives. In fact, the guy who trained many of the REI wrenches in my area was known for rebuilding 9/10 sp STI's and now makes frames. So, buried inside the big store, in one area, is an LBS.

If these places have bike service departments, and sell, service, and maintain thousands of bikes for local residents, they are, for those people, LBS.

There is a shop here that caters to triathletes. It in no way resembles REI or Performance, but also has little in common with any small, independent bike shop, either. Their genius is in charging $25 labor to mount a tubular, plus 3x the MSRP for glue, plus MSRP+ on many parts. They get $2199 for a PowerTap hub that sells at Performance for $1799. Theirs is a "turn-key" operation. You give them your bike and your wallet; they return a ready-to-compete bicycle shaped object. For the many who wear the tri-harness, this is their LBS.

"LBS," used on BF C&V, may mean an independent small business owner, one shop to several, trying to compete against REI and Performance and Dicks and Walmart. OK. How many of them are there compared to 20 years ago? Sad, but true. Check this out, from "LBS?":
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Old 08-18-15, 06:11 AM
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I've never been to a Performance and never heard of Mikes. I don't hate on any shops(besides the ones that sell Specialized...lol j/k). Honestly I would like to check out a Performance sometime. Just like everything there's good and bad of everything. There's one LBS by me(thirty miles away) and I would rather give my money to Walmart for tubes then give it them. Just a pompous attitude because their the only shop left in town and probably another thirty miles and they'll tell you too. "We've out lasted them all and the owner of the last store is working at Dicks" Well thanks for letting me know because I'll get a tube there instead. Then prior to that I asked him about a position there and he said straight out "NO, we never have opening because our employees never leave" and in a pretty aggressive tone.

REI I believe has a decent training program for their techs and actually applied to them not to mention their everywhere so if you enjoy working there and want to move you have a really good chance of staying with the store. Also being a "chain" they're more likely to offer some type of benefits for their employees compared to a smaller shop. If your working at a "LBS" your most likely getting your insurance from your significant other or from an outside company($$$) or nothing at all. Not to mention if your working at a shop your more likely a pretty active rider and more likely see bumps, bruises or something worse then the average rider and requiring a hospital visit of some sort. We had a employee at our shop that crashed pretty hard and needed an ER visit which required him to sell most of his bike since he was just a young single guy. We didn't offer paid time off and no health insurance. It hurt him financially pretty bad and took him quite some time to get back because of how far it set him back.

So I wouldn't bash too hard on the "Chain" bike shop. They may not stock the cool smaller niche brands, used vintage parts, employees who see what we see in older bikes. But they share a love for bikes just as we do one way or another.
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Old 08-18-15, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Henry III
REI I believe has a decent training program for their techs and actually applied to them not to mention their everywhere so if you enjoy working there and want to move you have a really good chance of staying with the store. Also being a "chain" they're more likely to offer some type of benefits for their employees compared to a smaller shop. If your working at a "LBS" your most likely getting your insurance from your significant other or from an outside company($$$) or nothing at all.
Good points not yet mentioned.
I read about the REI coming into town- for sure the head tech must be certified thru the REI program and must go out to Colorado for the Barnett Bicycling Institute program.
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Old 08-18-15, 07:16 AM
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Because "LBS" to many means a place that sells bikes. The shop part isn't thought too much of.

I have fond memories of the LBS's of the '70's. Those type of shops are few and far between but still do exist. Even so, I do all my wrenching, as I have on my vehicles. I will use a shop when I don't have the right tool that is too expensive to justify owning. Usually this applies to automotive tools like needing to press a bearing onto an axle.

I do have a good impression of REI that is not too near but not too far. Like others, I would say they are an LBS in a unique store. I have been an REI member since the early '80's. Do I trust them with my bike? I don't' trust too many people with repairs needed.
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Old 08-18-15, 07:35 AM
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IMO a bike shop that is near me is the LBS and it doesn't have to really meet any other criteria except maybe deal mostly, if not exclusively, with bikes. I'm not sure why posting set prices for things like tune ups, wheel trying, etc would exclude. Certainly some of the things a good LBS does like loaning tools, leading rides, remembering your name when you come in would set it apart as a good LBS.

Previous town I lived in had a Peformance and it was fine. I don't buy new bikes and almost never pay someone else to work on my bike but it was the same guys working there, they were friendly and helpful. No sofas, no espresso machines, no Colnagos, but you can't have it all, especially if you live somewhere else than Portland.
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Old 08-18-15, 08:16 AM
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I've recently had to re-assess my position on chain bike stores. I volunteer at a local Community Service organization rehabilitating donated bikes to be used as transportation by our clients (long-term jobless, veterans without other work skills, recently released prisoners, etc.) working in our job skills program. One of the local chain stores (Scheels) has a Community Foundation that has been extremely supportive of our work. The manager of their local bike department volunteers time with us rehabilitating bikes, if we need consumable items (chains, tires, tubes, brake pads, etc.) we just call him up and he puts in a request through the Scheels Foundation. They donated several thousand dollars to construct bike trails through our property (a 73 acre former golf course, now self-sustaining community farm), etc. I like my local shops, and they do also contribute to this project, but they simply can't do it on the scale that the Scheels Foundation has been able to help.
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Old 08-18-15, 08:53 AM
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I live in an area with a wealth of riches. We have a ton of small, locally-owned LBSs and also all the giant chain stores. Heck, I even remember when Mike's Bikes was a small LBS over in San Rafael. The owner of Bicycle Odyssey in Sausalito told me that years ago he was approached by one of the big chains who wanted to absorb his shop. However he refused to do so since he would have to be restricted to selling only their bike lines (either Trek or Specialized...I can't remember which) and would only be allowed to carry the parts, clothes and accessories that they were distributors for. He decided that he didn't want to do that and as a result his shop is one of the best in the bay area, with a huge variety of custom frames, equipment and gear.

I hate going into the chain stores where the choices are extremely limited (but beautifully displayed in blister packaging on nice racks). Also, they never have the parts I need for my old bike, whereas most of the real LBSs do or can either order them or tell me where to get them.
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Old 08-18-15, 09:29 AM
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I am one of those spoiled folks, with several highly rated local bike shops:

1) Leucadia Cyclery (leucadiabikes.com), founded in the late 1970s

2) RIDE (ridecyclery.com), now with two locations (does that make it a chain? )

3) El Camino Bike Shop (elcaminobikeshop.biz)

4) Nytro multisport (nytro.com)

I am an REI member, and I buy clothes there, but forgive me if I do not think of it as a bike shop.
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Old 08-18-15, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by gugie
I don't think of these as Local Bike Shops. Saying they are is the same as saying McDonald's is a local restaurant.
If one is within your normal shopping distance they are: Local
If they are a bicycle retailer they are a: Bike Shop

Not so difficult to imagine the accuracy of the appellation is it?

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Old 08-18-15, 10:19 AM
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I quoted you this morning at my friend's shop

"They're not in business to get rich or get ahead, but just want a good life, well earned. It's a lifestyle choice, not a job."
He laughed.

PS - He's an ex-racer, frame builder, wrench, Friday night beer club; a one man shop + his son during the summer. He sells both new an used, lots of lugged steel, real cool stuff.
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Old 08-18-15, 10:26 AM
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None of the big chains are in our area, unless Dick's Sporting Goods counts, and the new one here is not bicycle oriented at all. A few of their low end mountain bikes, some hybrids and a few "road bikes" is about it. I'm not sure I would patronize a big, national chain type store, I am more comfortable in a small, local run and owned place. I grew up using those type shops for bicycles and dirt bikes, the big time chain operations of any kind turn me off with their way of doing things.

We had one particular local chain that had several locations around the 2 county area, but now they are a single place in a trendy downtown hole-in-the-wall. One of their locations was taken over by one of the employees and is making a go at things, mainly they are Tri- oriented.

The other two are fairly long time local operations, 1. (my LBS,) Pensacola Cyclesport, is Cannondale, Specialized, Schwinn, Masi and a few other small lines. and 2. the Bianchi-Giant shop, Truly Spokin', is a younger, racer type shop. (pretty good folks, just above my price range) Both of these are very active in local events and bicycle promotion.

We just got a Trek Store, what ever that is, but I haven't been there, its supposed to be locals running a company store. Not a big time Trek guy, but the wife has a Trek hybrid that she picked out and picked up, back a few years ago. That shop was the local that went bust.

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Old 08-18-15, 10:43 AM
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There are some where you'd better know your market and how to negotiate......

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Old 08-18-15, 10:59 AM
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Why do we call the big chain stores "LBS"?



Who's calling them LBS? Quite obvious to determine the difference. I rank Dick's Sporting a half pedal above Walmart. The few Dicks Sporting I've been to have a display only / pretend work shop. Nobody is ever in the bike department but they have a workstand and air-supply.

As for the real LBS, most (not all) are good even though you might pay a bit more for parts. Understandable. There's a few that I sometimes leave parts for or the shop guys to have themselves. Owners are always well worth getting to know, even the ones short on patience. Most of the time, I don't buy anything but do refer others to visit such shop and specifically ask for an employee or owner. So in that regards, I support them, adds to their bottom line and they appreciate it.

As for crappy shops, I'll pass that onto others too. Save them the grief and rip-off.
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Old 08-18-15, 11:17 AM
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Bikes: It's complicated.

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Originally Posted by Bandera
If one is within your normal shopping distance they are: Local
If they are a bicycle retailer they are a: Bike Shop

Not so difficult to imagine the accuracy of the appellation is it?

-Bandera
Not so simple.

So your Walmart around the corner is your local supermarket? So you're buying local when you go there, right?

Grammatically, correct.

But I don't think most people think of it that way. Words and phrases often have more meaning than what the dictionary gives us.

Strictly grammatically, when you say you're buying organic, that just means you're buying carbon based food. We can argue about what people mean when they say organic, but I think you would agree that the vast majority of people imply much more than just carbon based.

So, a question to all, what does LBS mean to you?
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Old 08-18-15, 11:24 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by davester
I live in an area with a wealth of riches. We have a ton of small, locally-owned LBSs and also all the giant chain stores. Heck, I even remember when Mike's Bikes was a small LBS over in San Rafael. The owner of Bicycle Odyssey in Sausalito told me that years ago he was approached by one of the big chains who wanted to absorb his shop. However he refused to do so since he would have to be restricted to selling only their bike lines (either Trek or Specialized...I can't remember which) and would only be allowed to carry the parts, clothes and accessories that they were distributors for. He decided that he didn't want to do that and as a result his shop is one of the best in the bay area, with a huge variety of custom frames, equipment and gear.

I hate going into the chain stores where the choices are extremely limited (but beautifully displayed in blister packaging on nice racks). Also, they never have the parts I need for my old bike, whereas most of the real LBSs do or can either order them or tell me where to get them.
I hear you. I was a sales rep in the early 80's, the guy who owned Mike's Bike's was actually named Mike. But he bought it from another guy who's name was Mike as well, so he said it wasn't named for him.

Tony was one of my favorite customers, I called on him back when he was still on Caledonia. Most people I knew said that his shop was the best one in San Francisco-it just happened to be located in Sausalito.

+1 on your chain store theme.
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Old 08-18-15, 11:27 AM
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Local - Within biking distance
Bike - Bicycle oriented store as a core business offering with, of course support
Shop - A place to mechanically work on bicycles and their parts to the basic level.
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