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How do "Bike Community" stores stay in buisness?

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How do "Bike Community" stores stay in buisness?

Old 12-30-16, 05:44 PM
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How do "Bike Community" stores stay in buisness?

I'm not really sure what they are called, but I've decided to call them bicycle "Communists".

When I first got into cycling every LBS had a used section, and would take your old bike in on trade. But 20 years later it's like going to Walmart, and everything is new and financeable. So I guess you're stuck searching ebay etc.

Unfortunately after searching Kijiji and CL for the last few months for a new project, and finding nothing. I heard a couple people on this site mention great finds they made at their local "community" Bike shop. And lucky for me my city has one, finally a store that deals only in used bikes.

Going there was a complete gong show!

Now I like the whole concept of a "Bike Community" for $20 you can get a 1 yr membership, that allows you to go there as often as you like, and use their tools to fix your bike. They also have classes for $10 that teach bike repair.

First thing I notice is that they have plenty of used bikes on the wall. YES! but when I start looking at them, the ones that half decent are pretty pricey. A good $100-$200 more then what you would expect to see them on Kijiji.

Then I see it...They have exactly the Kuwahara Newport I do, just way more beat up and no price tag. But this one has brand new modern Mavic wheels on it, and I really wanted them. I ask the volunteer how much?

Volunteer: "Uggh, I think it's a rental"
Me: "I have the exact same bike, and I'm interested in the wheels. Would you be willing to just sell the wheels?"
Volunteer: "I ughh err well no, because it's a rental"
Me: "Ok fair enough, I noticed you have lots of wheels here. Do you have any more like these for sale?"
Volunteer: "Well we wouldn't know if they would fit your bike or not."
Me: "Well that's exactly why I'm interested in these ones, because I know they would fit my bike. Could you ask if they could sell me them, and then just replace them with another set later?" (no one's going to rent a bike in the middle of winter here)
Volunteer: "No it's a rental"

Then I see a nice vintage blue Gitane from either the 60's or 70's...But again no price tag, and I don't wanna go through another "it must be a rental" so I keep walking.

I notice a guy struggling with his mountain bike. He's got two volunteers trying to diagnose what the trouble is to why it doesn't shift. I can see from a mile away that the derailleur is severely bent, it's almost touching the bike spokes. So I chip in "You're derailleur is bent" And I suddenly get the most filthy looks from all the store "Volunteers" ...er ok I wasn't trying to be smart, just trying to help. So I back away slowly

Finally I find some clipless pedals in a box I like and go to pay for them. They don't accept debit! Cash or Credit card. This tells me that they are making so little money they can't afford the debit machine fee's. But I get a deal the pedals cost only $3 bucks, even though it took the guy 20mins to find them on the computer.

TL;DR

They don't check stock...

They don't accept debit...

They don't accept trades (Might be fronting stolen property)

They don't wheel and deal...

They overcharge for decent bikes...

They might not actually know how to fix a bike...

They don't allow you to bleed brakes there.

How do they manage to stay in business? Are they all like this?

Have you guys pulled some amazing finds from places like this?

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Old 12-30-16, 06:16 PM
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They don't accept debit? Usually it costs the store more money to take credit cards. I always ask the LBS and other local shops, pubs, etc., which they prefer. Invariably they say debit costs them less. It also reduces my bank's monthly service fee if I use my debit card 10 times a month (harder than you'd think, since some places accept only credit for convenience, despite the higher cost).

Regarding the inexperienced staff, that's pretty common among younger folks. They have to learn somewhere. Our local REI has only one or two experienced mechanics and some trainees. I've been in a couple of times at night when they had only trainees assembling new bikes for the holidays. But they didn't pretend to know more than they did or fake it. When I had a question about a replacement cable liner for my mountain bike's canti brakes (the short 6" or so bit that guides the cable around the seat post clamp area) they suggested coming back during the day to ask the chief mechanic. They gave me a foot of Jagwire brake cable housing in case I could use it, no charge, but it wasn't what I needed. I accepted it since I can use it elsewhere on the bike, and they were trying hard to be helpful.

But it's also common for inexperienced folks to fake it on the job, especially when customers are present, or when they're trying to impress someone.

Ideally they'd hire someone experienced who used to manage a real old school bike shop. But it's not easy to find folks like that. I know of a guy locally who had to shut down his old school bike shop earlier this year. Very knowledgeable. Just not enough traffic to keep the doors open.

I suspect it also takes some savvy in websites and social media. That's not necessarily the strength of the typical old school bike shop owner or manager. But a good presence on social media can really help. The tricky bit is staying upbeat and not overreacting to criticism or sniping from curmudgeons and tolls. I can think of another guy who runs an old school bike shop, including selling used bikes he fixes up. By all accounts he does good work, but he's inclined to fight it out online over complaints and it just makes everyone look bad. That's why it's best to hire a savvy social media person.
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Old 12-30-16, 06:42 PM
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...I'm assuming that yours, like the co-op here (preferred term), is staffed by unpaid volunteers, and that all of those bikes you saw came in as donations.

So basically the overhead expenses are building rent and stolen, broken, and used up tools. Also, I presume yours, like mine, has some sort of non profit status. So what exactly were you expecting to find there ? None of them work all that well, IME. The best ones make it clear to the volunteer "mechanics" that they ought not to get involved in any repair they are not confident they can effect without making the problem worse.

There is usually at least one person with some knowledge and experience in repairs present as the "shift manager."

Often that is also the person who can price a bicycle for you, because if everyone can price, you get guys asking everyone present for a price in hopes of getting a better one from the next guy. Once again, I don't really understand what you expected ? The situation is chaotic by nature, given that there is rarely anyone paid to work there........but the alternative for people who cannot effect their own repairs is usually much more expensive, and if you frequent a local one regularly, sometimes good stuff shows up at (IME) pretty cheap prices.

I was the Saturday manger here for several years. Your OP sounds a lot like some of the Yelp reviews I got from people with unrealistic expectations about what is and is not possible in a bargain priced, all volunteer environment. And clearly, selling the wheels off one of your rental bikes is not a good business move.

If you need better organization, you probably ought to buy your used stuff on e-bay and if you can do your own repairs already, you're probably not the target audience. If you want someone to schmooze you on your visit and prospective purchase, you ought to find a for profit retail environment.
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Old 12-30-16, 07:13 PM
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"They don't accept debit? Usually it costs the store more money to take credit cards. I always ask the LBS and other local shops, pubs, etc., which they prefer. Invariably they say debit costs them less. It also reduces my bank's monthly service fee if I use my debit card 10 times a month (harder than you'd think, since some places accept only credit for convenience, despite the higher cost)."
Exactly, that's what I don't understand. Now personally I don't mind buying small things with cash, but I generally prefer using debit for larger things that cost a couple hundred dollars. Just feels safer.
Regarding the inexperienced staff, that's pretty common among younger folks. They have to learn somewhere. Our local REI has only one or two experienced mechanics and some trainees. I've been in a couple of times at night when they had only trainees assembling new bikes for the holidays. But they didn't pretend to know more than they did or fake it. When I had a question about a replacement cable liner for my mountain bike's canti brakes (the short 6" or so bit that guides the cable around the seat post clamp area) they suggested coming back during the day to ask the chief mechanic. They gave me a foot of Jagwire brake cable housing in case I could use it, no charge, but it wasn't what I needed. I accepted it since I can use it elsewhere on the bike, and they were trying hard to be helpful.
It sounds like your shop is at least reasonable. The kid could have at least asked for me as I can handle incompetence, but faking it, or not even trying drives me up the wall. lol.

Ideally they'd hire someone experienced who used to manage a real old school bike shop. But it's not easy to find folks like that. I know of a guy locally who had to shut down his old school bike shop earlier this year. Very knowledgeable. Just not enough traffic to keep the doors open.
I find it ironic that they try to push bikes as clean transportation, and you should be going green and carless. But now you don't get any help or service, and it's rather difficult to buy and maintain a bike. People rather throw them away then fix them after only being a few years old because the bike shops are too expensive and hard to deal with. Yet in the old days bike shops were set up like a auto dealership, where they accepted trades, they would help you with the small things. Anything to keep you riding and happy.

I suspect it also takes some savvy in websites and social media. That's not necessarily the strength of the typical old school bike shop owner or manager. But a good presence on social media can really help. The tricky bit is staying upbeat and not overreacting to criticism or sniping from curmudgeons and tolls. I can think of another guy who runs an old school bike shop, including selling used bikes he fixes up. By all accounts he does good work, but he's inclined to fight it out online over complaints and it just makes everyone look bad. That's why it's best to hire a savvy social media person
That's probably true... This place seems to have a good website https://edmontonbikes.ca/ the store is nice and clean etc. Just a little frustrating to deal with lol.
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Old 12-30-16, 07:22 PM
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Just like for profit bike shops, bike co-op's need to have a strategy/
By nature, that is a challenge.

BicycleCucina has made great strides, even buying their own building.
SBbike also has figured out how to make it happen.
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Old 12-30-16, 08:08 PM
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Often that is also the person who can price a bicycle for you, because if everyone can price, you get guys asking everyone present for a price in hopes of getting a better one from the next guy. Once again, I don't really understand what you expected ? The situation is chaotic by nature, given that there is rarely anyone paid to work there........but the alternative for people who cannot effect their own repairs is usually much more expensive, and if you frequent a local one regularly, sometimes good stuff shows up at (IME) pretty cheap prices.
You know an easy way to fix that problem? You put a price tag on it...For example that Gitane, I don't know if they wanted $50 or $5000 or they just like looking at it. Either way they made me feel unconformable asking about it. Or the pedals I bought, I had estimated they would want at least $40 for them which I was willing to pay. If I knew they only wanted $3 I would have snapped them up, and bought a few other odds and ends.

At the end of the day even a charity is still a business and needs to be ran like one. That means doing inventory, stock, and training employee's.

I was the Saturday manger here for several years. Your OP sounds a lot like some of the Yelp reviews I got from people with unrealistic expectations about what is and is not possible in a bargain priced, all volunteer environment. And clearly, selling the wheels off one of your rental bikes is not a good business move.
If you're getting tons of negative yelp reviews, then you're clearly doing something wrong like not explaining your policies or have a poor attitude. I don't see why my money is worth less then someone else. Clearly I had a need for some wheels, and they could have taken the 10mins or so to help me...That is good business! I might have even been inclined to donate an a bike to them in the future, because of the one time they went the extra mile to treat me like a human being.

I've done volunteer work myself, there's no reason not to have some personal pride in your work, and go the extra mile to help people. It makes them feel good, and it also helps you feel good about yourself.

If you need better organization, you probably ought to buy your used stuff on e-bay and if you can do your own repairs already, you're probably not the target audience. If you want someone to schmooze you on your visit and prospective purchase, you ought to find a for profit retail environment.
A little organization keeps your business afloat. For example if the bike was in a clearly marked rental section, or the bike was marked a rental bike I wouldn't have even asked about it. But since it's mixed in with 20 for sale bikes, I assumed it was for sale and sadly it got my hopes up.

Please explain what exactly is the target audience?

I don't want them to smooze over me, I just wanted them to actually sell me something that I need.
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Old 12-30-16, 08:10 PM
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We've got a couple of really good co-ops around here, staffed by very skilled volunteers. I think it's that Portland has an unusually high number of people who really care about bikes and are willing to give their time to help out the community.

On the other hand, I stopped in a Performance Bike shop the other night to kill some time while waiting for my daughter to text me her order for the fast food place up the street. Uncharacteristically, I wasn't there long before someone asked me if I needed help. It was one of the mechanics. I told him I was looking for Campagnolo cables. He told me that I could use any road cables with Campy parts, but that they've had so many problems with Campy systems that they don't support them any more. Maybe if they used the right cables....
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Old 12-30-16, 08:17 PM
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We've got a local co-op.

They run it like a business.

As far as taking wheels off of a complete ridable bike.... NO!!! Why would you even complain that you can't get the wheels off of a "floor bike"?

Our local shop does strip a few bikes. But often the parts are worth more than the whole, and it is obvious that have troubles moving high dollar bikes..

A few days ago I was in and asked if they had any Campy bits.. Hidden away in the back room was a pair of wheels built on vintage Campy Record low flange hubs complete with flat skewers... They followed me home for $75

Our coop doesn't buy any used stock.. it is all donations. So, that $75 went into profit/wages (well, non-profit). They do buy and sell some limited new stock.

I think the Portland coop does buy some used stock. And they have more quality stuff on the floor, but the prices are also about double the Eugene prices. No doubt my Campy/Mavic wheels would have been $150 or $200 in Portland

They do have a few volunteers, especially for events like bike valet parking (which they take donations for and charge the venue for the service). But there is always at least one paid employee, sometimes a few. The manager isn't noted for his people skills.

How many annual subscriptions do they have? A few hundred? It all ads up, plus they still sell parts to the subscription holders. And the better "mechanics" will buy a subscription, and volunteer some tech support too.

I doubt they're making a lot of money, but they do make enough to pay a few staff members.

Oh, our local co-op also does 100% scratch builds (from bare tubes). Costs for a new trike is somewhere in excess of $3000.

Here is one of the co-op trikes for sale (2nd owner).
Cargo Trike - Local Made at CAT, heavy duty, stable, and rare ... - $3200 (Lowell)


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Old 12-30-16, 08:51 PM
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As far as taking wheels off of a complete ridable bike.... NO!!! Why would you even complain that you can't get the wheels off of a "floor bike"?
Well around here BITD your LBS would do that on a used bike. It wasn't uncommon to wheel and deal like "Hey I'm interested in buying this bike, if I pay an extra $50 bucks will you put on the handle bars from that bike over there." They would say either yes or no. I once walked out with a bike with a different set of wheels, crank & pedals, and handle bars. It was double the original price and I may have payed too much, but I was super happy because the bike fit me perfectly.

I'm not really super upset that they didn't sell me the wheels, it's a rental I get it. I'm more disappointed that they didn't want to help me as there are at least a 100 or so pairs of modern wheels hanging on the roof, but I don't know what they have. I have to travel over an hour to get to that store, and I don't really have the means to transport my bike there. That's why when I saw the exact same 1988 Kuwahara, with an upgrade I've been wanting to do for the past year. I got excited. They could have helped me measured the one at the store, looked through their inventory for some similar wheels and hooked me up. It's not like I wanted them for free.
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Old 12-30-16, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by cbrstar
You know an easy way to fix that problem? You put a price tag on it...For example that Gitane, I don't know if they wanted $50 or $5000 or they just like looking at it. Either way they made me feel unconformable asking about it. Or the pedals I bought, I had estimated they would want at least $40 for them which I was willing to pay. If I knew they only wanted $3 I would have snapped them up, and bought a few other odds and ends.

At the end of the day even a charity is still a business and needs to be ran like one. That means doing inventory, stock, and training employee's.
...I suggest to you in all sincerity that you might want to volunteer at yours in order to influence the direction of it. It ought to be very educational.



Originally Posted by cbrstar
If you're getting tons of negative yelp reviews, then you're clearly doing something wrong like not explaining your policies or have a poor attitude. I don't see why my money is worth less then someone else. Clearly I had a need for some wheels, and they could have taken the 10mins or so to help me...That is good business! I might have even been inclined to donate an a bike to them in the future, because of the one time they went the extra mile to treat me like a human being.

I've done volunteer work myself, there's no reason not to have some personal pride in your work, and go the extra mile to help people. It makes them feel good, and it also helps you feel good about yourself.
...nobody said I was getting tons of negative Yelp reviews. Until you did. You can take that for what it's worth.

Originally Posted by cbrstar
A little organization keeps your business afloat. For example if the bike was in a clearly marked rental section, or the bike was marked a rental bike I wouldn't have even asked about it. But since it's mixed in with 20 for sale bikes, I assumed it was for sale and sadly it got my hopes up.

Please explain what exactly is the target audience?

I don't want them to smooze over me, I just wanted them to actually sell me something that I need.
...once again, you can make the place better by your own informed participation. What you're doing here is whinging about some people who, if I understand you correctly, did you a favor by selling you pedals for 3 bucks that you expected to pay 40 bucks for. Am I missing something ?

You made some assumptions about something you know little if anything about, and were disappointed. Welcome to the real world. Don't expect any further response from me. I just tried to let you in on the way things are, because you asked. My mistake.
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Old 12-30-16, 09:45 PM
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When I got back into riding about 3 years ago I rented space ($10 per hour) several times in a local co-op before I eventually put together my own set of tools and a stand, and it was mostly a positive experience. It allowed me access to pro-quality tools, stands, and someone to answer a question here and there if I couldnt remember something. I enjoyed the experience and it was very helpful.

Compared to a modern shop though it was run pretty so-so, with one of the employees having very limited 'people skills', (lol). But.. I accepted that - as others in this thread pointed out - being due to the not-for-profit vibe of the place. Right or wrong I wouldn't expect to be treated like a king in a business like that. I think as others have posted, you need to have realistic expectations when dealing with a co-op.

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Old 12-30-16, 09:54 PM
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Originally Posted by cbrstar
I'm not really super upset that they didn't sell me the wheels, it's a rental I get it. I'm more disappointed that they didn't want to help me as there are at least a 100 or so pairs of modern wheels hanging on the roof, but I don't know what they have. I have to travel over an hour to get to that store, and I don't really have the means to transport my bike there. That's why when I saw the exact same 1988 Kuwahara, with an upgrade I've been wanting to do for the past year. I got excited. They could have helped me measured the one at the store, looked through their inventory for some similar wheels and hooked me up. It's not like I wanted them for free.
I'm still not quite sure what the issue is.

I know I was across town at Dick's Sporting Goods when I did something stupid and snapped my Quick Release in half. So I asked if they had a new QR they could sell me, and they had NOTHING. I would have expected them to pull one, or a pair off of a bike from the back room and order a replacement. Maybe the salesperson didn't realize that without the QR, I was stuck 20 miles from home and no way to get back home. And ordering in for "next week" wasn't an option.

But, at the co-op. Say I saw something really special on a beater bike. For example if someone put some Campy Record hubs on a beater... I might hunt in the back room for a spare. Offer to true the wheel, repack the bearings, polish the cones, and swap the tire over... FOR FREE, if they would sell me my special wheels. But, I personally wouldn't expect them to just strip them off the bike unless it was truly inappropriate such as sewups on a town bike.

Our co-op has several levels/grades of bikes (and similar with parts).
  1. Museum bikes, hanging on the ceiling. I'm not sure what the story is on these, but they appear to be "not for sale", but who knows, maybe for the right offer.
  2. New, custom order, scratch built cargo bikes (for a pretty penny).
  3. Local cycle delivery bikes. Generally not for sale, but I did hear that one of their backup bikes was sold against the employees wishes.
  4. New parts and components. Usually a fixed price.
  5. Floor Demos of in house produced bikes. Most are "rentals", but I presume they would sell some for the right price.
  6. Floor Used Bikes. These have been "refurbed" by staff and volunteers, and are for sale intact.
    I doubt they would be too excited about stripping parts off of these bikes.
  7. Bikes waiting rebuild. They have these hidden away, but will apparently take offers on whole bikes.
    I doubt they would part them out, unless perhaps someone was to volunteer to help them build something more saleable.
  8. Upstairs Bikes. Generally not for "parting out". However... who knows, they might be coerced. Usually pretty battered and already missing parts or mismatched parts.
  9. Intact parts. They take "reasonable offers" on anything that isn't marked.
  10. Broken Parts. There was discussion about allowing stripping of things like derailleur pulleys, cages, springs, etc. But, I'm not sure if anything happened with that. But generally cheap enough that one might be able to buy a busted derailleur for full price, strip it, and donate back the excess parts.
  11. Misc Bolts and Screws

Anyway, I doubt the would be happy to sell wheels off of a bike they've already invested time and labor into building up.

I was a little puzzled by the Portland Co-op that wanted to sell me used rims, but didn't want to let me go back and look at them. And my interests in used parts are so varied that I can't just request something off the top of my head (other than e-bay searches).
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Old 12-30-16, 09:54 PM
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Originally Posted by exmechanic89
When I got back into riding about 3 years ago I rented space ($10 per hour) several times in a local co-op before I had put together my own set of tools and a stand, and it was mostly a positive experience. It allowed me access to pro-quality tools, stands, and someone to answer a question here and there if I couldnt remember something. I enjoyed the experience and it was very helpful.

Compared to a modern shop though it was run pretty so-so, with one of the employees having very limited 'people skills', (lol). But.. I accepted that - as others in this thread pointed out - being due to the not-for-profit vibe of the place. Right or wrong I wouldn't expect to be treated like a king in a business like that. I think as others have posted, you need to have realistic expectations when dealing with a co-op.
Well fair enough.
But I wasn't expecting to be "treated like a king"... I don't understand why helping someone find a part they are looking for is such a huge luxury service. And even though it's a co-op it's still a storefront.
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Old 12-30-16, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by cbrstar
Well fair enough.
But I wasn't expecting to be "treated like a king"... I don't understand why helping someone find a part they are looking for is such a huge luxury service. And even though it's a co-op it's still a storefront.
Also consider maybe you were there on an off-night. The place I was going to was better on some days than others, lol.

On a side note I buy everything used and on eBay or CL, and have a couple of cycling friends I met here on the forums I get stuff from sometimes. I think with a co-op you probably have to go there fairly often, and develop a relationship with the people there, to find any bargains. I just dont have the time or inclination to do that. Not knocking it, just not something that interests me.
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Old 12-30-16, 10:33 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK
I'm still not quite sure what the issue is.

I know I was across town at Dick's Sporting Goods when I did something stupid and snapped my Quick Release in half. So I asked if they had a new QR they could sell me, and they had NOTHING. I would have expected them to pull one, or a pair off of a bike from the back room and order a replacement. Maybe the salesperson didn't realize that without the QR, I was stuck 20 miles from home and no way to get back home. And ordering in for "next week" wasn't an option.

But, at the co-op. Say I saw something really special on a beater bike. For example if someone put some Campy Record hubs on a beater... I might hunt in the back room for a spare. Offer to true the wheel, repack the bearings, polish the cones, and swap the tire over... FOR FREE, if they would sell me my special wheels. But, I personally wouldn't expect them to just strip them off the bike unless it was truly inappropriate such as sewups on a town bike.

Our co-op has several levels/grades of bikes (and similar with parts).
  1. Museum bikes, hanging on the ceiling. I'm not sure what the story is on these, but they appear to be "not for sale", but who knows, maybe for the right offer.
  2. New, custom order, scratch built cargo bikes (for a pretty penny).
  3. Local cycle delivery bikes. Generally not for sale, but I did hear that one of their backup bikes was sold against the employees wishes.
  4. New parts and components. Usually a fixed price.
  5. Floor Demos of in house produced bikes. Most are "rentals", but I presume they would sell some for the right price.
  6. Floor Used Bikes. These have been "refurbed" by staff and volunteers, and are for sale intact.
    I doubt they would be too excited about stripping parts off of these bikes.
  7. Bikes waiting rebuild. They have these hidden away, but will apparently take offers on whole bikes.
    I doubt they would part them out, unless perhaps someone was to volunteer to help them build something more saleable.
  8. Upstairs Bikes. Generally not for "parting out". However... who knows, they might be coerced. Usually pretty battered and already missing parts or mismatched parts.
  9. Intact parts. They take "reasonable offers" on anything that isn't marked.
  10. Broken Parts. There was discussion about allowing stripping of things like derailleur pulleys, cages, springs, etc. But, I'm not sure if anything happened with that. But generally cheap enough that one might be able to buy a busted derailleur for full price, strip it, and donate back the excess parts.
  11. Misc Bolts and Screws

Anyway, I doubt the would be happy to sell wheels off of a bike they've already invested time and labor into building up.

I was a little puzzled by the Portland Co-op that wanted to sell me used rims, but didn't want to let me go back and look at them. And my interests in used parts are so varied that I can't just request something off the top of my head (other than e-bay searches).
If Dicks helped you out that one time, they would probably had a customer for life with you, and would have made their money time and effort back with future purchases right?

I know myself. Back when I was in school and dead broke. I went into a guitar store looking for a special wrench to adjust the truss rod on my guitar. The store owner pulled one off a new guitar set and handed it too me. When I asked how much worried I couldn't afford it. He smiled and said "Just take it, and maybe someday buy a guitar from me" That simple act of kindness meant so much to me that I not only bought my next guitar, but my next 7 guitars from him, and told all my friends who played how awesome his store was.

I think you understand how I felt about the wheels. The bike is in rough shape, and the wheels are worth 10x what the bike is worth...Heck their too good for my bike, but my bike has sentimental value and I want to fix it up, so I can keep up with my friends this summer who have nicer new bikes. I was willing to pay what ever they asked. If they said I needed a membership I would have gotten one.
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Old 12-30-16, 10:58 PM
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Originally Posted by cbrstar
If Dicks helped you out that one time, they would probably had a customer for life with you, and would have made their money time and effort back with future purchases right?
I don't know.

It does tend to help me stratify the stores that sell new bikes/products.

Department Stores ==> General Sports Stores (Dick's, GI Joes, etc) ==> Boutique Sports Stores (REI) ==> LBS

I suppose I now have a pretty poor view of those general sports stores. I may buy a sleeping bag or something there, but just don't think about them for bike stuff at all. The bikes did look somewhat solid though, albeit heavy.

I do buy both bike and other sporting goods stuff from REI.
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Old 12-30-16, 11:50 PM
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The Coop near my house in PA has a few really good mechanics and they tend to look down on you and treat you poorly and look down on you unless you become part of the staff. They also have a few of the originals left who will bend over backwards to help
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Old 12-31-16, 12:25 AM
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Hi,

Just some follow up comments on the postings by CliffordK, 3alarmer and exmechanic89. I live in North Central Oregon and we’re fortunate to have several decent co-ops in our area. Portland has two really good ones and a couple that I haven’t tried. The one in Eugene is pretty good, but a bit clunky. Sometimes you find bargains, sometimes things can be pricey. A knowledgeable, well run shop will know the value of their products. Last fall I scored a Campagnolo Nuovo Gran Sport high flange front hub in great condition for $25, primarily because I had developed a relationship with the co-op.

I recently moved from the coast to Salem where I found a relatively new co-op that I will be volunteering at after the holidays. I previously volunteered at one in Bakersfield, CA.

Please understand that these are primarily staffed by volunteers and, for many of them, this is their first experience dealing with customers. They may or may not have the proper training or guidance. Like all of us, people have their ups and downs. Having spent many years in various types and levels of management, I understand these issues.

Many times I have found that the senior or experienced staff are always busy and I’m likely to draw someone who is relatively new. So, when I enter a co-op, I politely explain what I’m looking for and how it applies to the bike or project I’m working on. I try not to give them attitude or talk down to them. This can, at times, be difficult depending how the staff member behaves.

The best approach is to either join the co-op or volunteer to work there. I’m a decent bike mechanic and have a good set of tools, but often need parts for rebuilds and restorations. I’ve found that volunteering gives me access to the rare need for specialty tools, inexpensive, used parts as well as the opportunity to use my business operations and customer service experience to help the business improve,

Cheers,

Van
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Old 12-31-16, 12:53 AM
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Originally Posted by cbrstar
...
Back when I was in school and dead broke. I went into a guitar store looking for a special wrench to adjust the truss rod on my guitar. The store owner pulled one off a new guitar set and handed it too me. When I asked how much worried I couldn't afford it. He smiled and said "Just take it, and maybe someday buy a guitar from me" That simple act of kindness meant so much to me that I not only bought my next guitar, but my next 7 guitars from him, and told all my friends who played how awesome his store was....
Wow. That guy was a marketing genius. Customer-for-life for a $1.47 hex wrench. I like his style.
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Old 12-31-16, 01:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Senior Ryder 00
Hi,

Just some follow up comments on the postings by CliffordK, 3alarmer and exmechanic89. I live in North Central Oregon and weíre fortunate to have several decent co-ops in our area. Portland has two really good ones and a couple that I havenít tried. The one in Eugene is pretty good, but a bit clunky. Sometimes you find bargains, sometimes things can be pricey. A knowledgeable, well run shop will know the value of their products. Last fall I scored a Campagnolo Nuovo Gran Sport high flange front hub in great condition for $25, primarily because I had developed a relationship with the co-op.

I recently moved from the coast to Salem where I found a relatively new co-op that I will be volunteering at after the holidays. I previously volunteered at one in Bakersfield, CA.

Please understand that these are primarily staffed by volunteers and, for many of them, this is their first experience dealing with customers. They may or may not have the proper training or guidance. Like all of us, people have their ups and downs. Having spent many years in various types and levels of management, I understand these issues.

Many times I have found that the senior or experienced staff are always busy and Iím likely to draw someone who is relatively new. So, when I enter a co-op, I politely explain what Iím looking for and how it applies to the bike or project Iím working on. I try not to give them attitude or talk down to them. This can, at times, be difficult depending how the staff member behaves.

The best approach is to either join the co-op or volunteer to work there. Iím a decent bike mechanic and have a good set of tools, but often need parts for rebuilds and restorations. Iíve found that volunteering gives me access to the rare need for specialty tools, inexpensive, used parts as well as the opportunity to use my business operations and customer service experience to help the business improve,

Cheers,

Van
Good points, I might join and give that a try.

Originally Posted by Lascauxcaveman
Wow. That guy was a marketing genius. Customer-for-life for a $1.47 hex wrench. I like his style.
lol Well it was a Gibson style wrench that I needed for a inexpensive Harmony I had found at a garage sale. Still not very expensive, but he still pilfered it from a new Gibson. It's sometimes the small things that mean the most
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Old 12-31-16, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K
We've got a couple of really good co-ops around here, staffed by very skilled volunteers. I think it's that Portland has an unusually high number of people who really care about bikes and are willing to give their time to help out the community.

On the other hand, I stopped in a Performance Bike shop the other night to kill some time while waiting for my daughter to text me her order for the fast food place up the street. Uncharacteristically, I wasn't there long before someone asked me if I needed help. It was one of the mechanics. I told him I was looking for Campagnolo cables. He told me that I could use any road cables with Campy parts, but that they've had so many problems with Campy systems that they don't support them any more. Maybe if they used the right cables....
From what I can tell, the Performance in Beaverton just pushes boxes. I think the only thing I've ever bought there was a cable or a tube.
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Old 12-31-16, 11:46 AM
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Old 12-31-16, 02:03 PM
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I spent some time volunteering at a local "community bike" place; it was both fulfilling as well as exasperating. While there WERE a few knowledgeable mechanics, there were also quite a few that were absolutely clueless (many of which it seems were doing their 'community service' requirements there). Tools were mostly cheap and/or worn out, questionable components were re-used all the time without being checked, and the 'shop manager' ran the place like a commandant at a foreign legion post. Most bikes were built or repaired for those who were poor at no cost, but a few "gems" were sold in the back for cash.

Once when I was working, a volunteer gave a client's bike to the wrong person, who quickly fled with it. Another time, a fistfight broke out between men waiting for repairs. I finally gave up and stopped volunteering. I have so little free time anymore, I felt like my efforts were wasted there.

The 'better' bikes they had were sometimes quite good deals, but I wouldn't expect any repairs done there to be correct.

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Old 12-31-16, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Lascauxcaveman
Wow. That guy was a marketing genius. Customer-for-life for a $1.47 hex wrench. I like his style.
Originally Posted by cbrstar
lol Well it was a Gibson style wrench that I needed for a inexpensive Harmony I had found at a garage sale. Still not very expensive, but he still pilfered it from a new Gibson. It's sometimes the small things that mean the most
Either that, or he has a demo unit in the back of the shop that he brings out and pilfers to make it appear to his customers that he is willing to go that extra mile. After the customer leaves, he goes back and ties a new 30Ę wrench to it to be ready for the next customer
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Old 12-31-16, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK
Either that, or he has a demo unit in the back of the shop that he brings out and pilfers to make it appear to his customers that he is willing to go that extra mile. After the customer leaves, he goes back and ties a new 30Ę wrench to it to be ready for the next customer
lol well either way it is pretty ingenious. Even though I could have bought the same guitars a tiny bit cheaper at the giant mega guitar store down the road. It made it feel like if I had a slight problem with one of them, he would be willing to listen and at least try to help me out. Where as the giant corporate store would be just "To bad, so sad".
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