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Lbs

Old 12-19-14, 03:05 PM
  #1  
Planemaker
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Lbs

The owner at my favorite LBS and I were discussing online purchasing vs. purchasing local. The owner said he understands that online could be cheaper and doesnít discourage it but, would like a chance to compete for the business. He said that a lot of times if customers would talk to him he could point out better and cheaper alternatives than what the customer was looking for. What really frustrated him though is the person who comes in to the shop with a situation and the shop spends time diagnosing the problem and suggesting the solution, the customer leaves the store. The next time the bike is in the shop it is sporting the equipment that the LBS recommended.

On my recent equipment purchase I provided the LBS with my list and asked them what they could do. When I went in to the LBS yesterday the owner went through each item on my list and in some cases suggested alternatives (he even showed with his product why I would want something not on my list in lieu of something that was on it). Bottom line is I am walking out with my equipment today at a cheaper price than I could get online and I didnít have to hassle with shipping.
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Old 12-19-14, 03:16 PM
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I try to purchase from the LBS that provides services to me. Its in my own best interest that they stay in business.

But then I also just purchased a set of tires for much less than they can.

It's all a balancing act for me.
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Old 12-19-14, 03:33 PM
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A lot of shops can compete by using QBP. They're missing the boat, they can set up a website connection directly to QBP's catalog and let customers order directly, I do it all the time through AEBike.com an LBS in my area. The advantage for me is to get exactly what I want through them, without having to shop their current stock. They have developed an international clientele through their little store front in mythical Kalamazoo.

Marc
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Old 12-19-14, 04:00 PM
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Oh boy...this is definitely a sensitive topic for me mainly because I'm so passionate about supporting the kind folks at my LBS because they've helped me in so many ways...including...

1. Actually "talking me out of stuff" I wanted but they knew I either didn't need or just wasn't ready for yet.

2. Stellar Customer Service & "SUPPORT".

and here's another biggy I noticed....

3. "What They Carry": as it seems whether it be big or small ticket items?...bikes or accessories?....they know the deals from the rip-offs and the great products from the junk....so they stock the best and filter the rest...which gives me a warm fuzzy that no matter what I grab from their pegboards or shelves?...it's going to be a high quality product that works great and isn't going to disappoint.

4. "They Check Me": Whether it be asking me as soon as I enter what I'm looking for and/or if they can help or if I'd like assistance or?...me walking too the register with something I think I want in my hand and then questioning me to look out for me.

Do I pay $5-$10 more (here and there) than what I could get it online for?...yep...sure do!....does it bother me?...absolutely not!..and about 1/2 (or more) of what I've purchased from them so far was right in the hunt with the lowest online prices.

Now if they were driving Mercedes and BMW's?...it might bother me a bit but they're not..however the owner and the head mechanic do ride high end Bianchi's and Treks.

Me?...I'm honored to help them keep the lights on and the doors open....and the help coming.
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Old 12-19-14, 04:15 PM
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Bikes, bike maintenance, and related purchases I do thru my LBS. Clothes, and tubes will be thru REI or possibly Performance or the PI Outlet store. I am starting to purchase tires online.
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Old 12-19-14, 04:18 PM
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often when the Bike shop staff are able to stay around and gain expertise , the Spouse is the Bigger money earner in the household..

Sheldon's Wife , a Tenured Professor at a University, is an example..
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Old 12-19-14, 04:48 PM
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My LBS will do as well, or even better than many of the on-line shops. When they can't match, or beat, the on-line stuff they are up front about this, too. Cycling kit is one area that is strange about this, some can be purchased for less on-line, other things are better gotten in the shop. Last Christmas I did some shopping with the LBS, for our daughter, the LBS beat the on-line hands down, and I didn't pay any shipping, that I could see. A lot of the cold weather gear I have to get on-line since they can't plug in to places they are familiar with, and they are a QBP place, too.

I can't walk into an on-line store and peruse the owners old bicycles hanging in the back, lots of neat stuff there, including a complete Campag NR group set, mint, in the boxes. Drool, worthy for sure. The Trek 720 and the mid-80's C'Dale Criterium series with all Campag are worth the drive to see, and I can't chat for an hour or so with an on-line store. End of long old guy reminisce.

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Old 12-19-14, 05:19 PM
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I've never seen an LBS that has not been willing to match internet prices (in Denver, Tucson and El Paso). The only time I buy on the internet is if there's a specific brand/model of item I want and local shops don't carry it (like Continental Touring Plus tires and CygoLite lights -). Other than that, computers - tubes - my newest floor pump - a new rear wheel - bike locks - bottle cages - clothing - frame pumps - sunglasses - helmet - etc. etc. etc. are purchased locally. I want to help keep these guys in business.
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Old 12-19-14, 05:24 PM
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I do a mix of both. I am also fortunate that my favorite shop is good at giving me alternatives. They will gladly special order if needed, and tell me when it is cheaper to just go down the street to the hardware store. I was even looking for a piece for an old set of DiaCompe calipers one time, and they sent me a couple of miles away to another shop since the owner there used to be involved with DiaCompe, and he ended up having the piece I needed.

They also are good at letting me drool over the high end components... I remember when the first version of carbon Campagnolo rear derailleurs came out because they had one sitting on the counter so people could pick it up and see how light it was. They are also good at telling me when I can step down a level in components and get something that will suit me and my casual style just as well as the higher end stuff.

Plus, even if it has been several months between visits, they call me by name... just like the best web sites.
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Old 12-19-14, 09:32 PM
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I do a mix of both as well. My "local" bike shop is 45 miles away. The one I consider my local bike shop is one of the best there is. If I am in the area I always stop by and purchase something.
I bought my bike online though and I do all my wrenching. I buy most of my gear online as well. I got a good on my bike and it doesn't make sense to drive 45 miles to have my bike worked on when it's very easy to do maintenance. I have been very shrewd buying anything online because lets face it, none of this gear is cheap no matter where you buy it.
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Old 12-19-14, 10:56 PM
  #11  
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So happy many of you have good LBSs.

Me? It's been quite a while since I've darkened the doors of my local nincompoops. Why pay more for locally sourced incompetence?

My last three '+1's were 100% Internet (inspiration, advice, recommendations, reviews, purchase). Bicycles are 1890s technology - it's not tough.

The only cycling related things I buy locally anymore are bike shoes and helmets (and I got my Bell Impulse @ Walmart, not the LBS).
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Old 12-19-14, 11:34 PM
  #12  
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I love my LBS. It's a small place, but what they don't have they can get in a day or two and even if they are a few bucks higher, they often discount labor so it evens out in the long run.

I do buy my clothing on line as I'm looking for very particular items usually not available through their sources.

But I fear they are not long for this world. Located near campus (they're University Cycles), the area was largely older commercial structures. Over the last two years everything around them has been rebuilt into apartment complexes with lower level retail. They're now sitting on the only parcel on their street and the parallel street that hasn't been redeveloped. And they're just leasing the land that would now be worth much more in an alternate use. It's a two man shop and they're older than I am, so I suspect if they get displaced they may not bother relocating.
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Old 12-20-14, 02:21 AM
  #13  
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I now buy most of my bicycle supplies over the internet.

There are a few reasons for that.

I've been doing all of my own bicycle maintenance since I was about 10 years old. So, I have most of the tools I need, and I don't need to go into a shop to ask them to put on a new chain or replace a brake cable. And, now with the internet, there is a better source of more accurate information at the tip of my fingers than any store employee could have. With the nearest store, say 10 miles away, and the best store (I think), 15+ miles away, I stock many of my basic needs such as spare tubes.

I do like browsing in stores such as bike shops... or at least I have in the past. And, sometimes I will buy some trinkets when I do. I usually ask to be left alone as I look things over. However, if I'm actually shopping for something specific, then it is often that one item, or nothing. Unfortunately they usually don't put the most interesting stuff on display.

I find it very frustrating when I go into a store and they don't carry the one item that I'm looking for, and I refuse to spend hours hunting across town when I know I can spend 5 minutes in my living room and find it, plus a dozen similar items to choose from all at half the price I can buy it for at any store.

Sometimes I like to do some research before making a purchase, which is also at my fingertips at home.

I certainly don't need to pay somebody to go onto the internet, buy it, ship it to the store (where I have go return for a second trip) and to mark it up.

I suppose a store makes a decision to either carry a little bit of everything, or just the "mainstream items". So, when I go into the store looking for a little bit obscure brake pad, and they don't have it and claim that it can't purchased anymore... well... it just means that not only do I leave the store empty handed, but I don't come back very soon.

Most of the E-Bay sellers are just small businesses, no different than anybody else.

I do like the idea of small stores where one can find replacement parts in the middle of a trip without having to get stuff shipped. Yet it has its limits.
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Old 12-20-14, 04:23 AM
  #14  
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This thread highlights the benefits and pitfalls of online shopping, whether bike related or not.

It depends on what's important to you; cost, convenience, variety of choice or personal service.

But this is shopping in the 21st century, and as far as small LBSs are concerned I'm afraid that for the customer it's going to be a matter of use it or lose it, and for the LBS, adapt or die.
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Old 12-20-14, 10:34 AM
  #15  
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Yes, I buy stuff over the internet! (which is usually hundreds of dollars.)

However, I always give my LBS a shot at beating their price, matching it, or getting "close enuf." They also get any mechanical work that I am not willing or qualified to do. (I don't do wheels, because the chief mechanic at my LBS is a wizard.)

It's amazing how often the LBS can be competitive......... and they get all the business I can give them. (which is usually hundreds of dollars)

My priority is still me, however! It's usually how much I am willing to take out of my pocket, for ANY given item. (And my LBS understands that)
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Old 12-20-14, 11:00 AM
  #16  
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Honestly, I buy most stuff over the net. It's not so much the cost ... it is the convenience and variety. I commute by bike most days and there aren't a lot of suitable LBSs near my house. It's a lot more convenient for me to do it myself than make a special trip.

That works for me, because I do 99% of bike maintenance myself. If you're someone who doesn't do all your own maintenance (most folks I know), I'd strongly recommend a good LBS instead.

Bike purchases are a different matter. Fit is important, so IMHO, they should always be purchased at a brick and mortar store.
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Old 12-20-14, 11:20 AM
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My situation is unusual, in that I have four very good bike shops, plus an REI, within a 3-mile radius of my house. One bike shop caters to the racing set, and staff there can have a somewhat haughty attitude, but the others are very friendly and welcoming to all sorts of cyclists. Another very good shop, the UC San Diego on-campus bike shop, "Where cycling is academic," is located right where I work. I spend a fair amount of money locally, but, since I ride classic bikes exclusively, I often need online parts sources including eBay and Loose Screws (which is about to be resurrected).

I like to buy fit-critical items, such as helmets, saddles, gloves, shorts, and shoes, in person. Since the callout and actual sizes of tires often differ significantly, I also like to be able to see and measure tires before buying them.
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Old 12-21-14, 03:53 AM
  #18  
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But what has always bothered me is that I can go to a running store, and they have like 50 different shoes, and there is always someone with some good knowledge of them, plus typically they will have some sort of fit clinic now and then for more advanced help such as orthodics. Now granted for LBS the bike is much more important than the shoe, but I've never seen more than a couple shoe styles and not much help on selection. I'm guessing the mark up on things like shoes is pretty good so I don't understand why they don't push them more. I suppose they argue they don't turn the inventory enough to justify it, but it could be lack of marketing is why the inventory sits there. Probably the same thing for saddles. I hear about "test saddles" but have never seen an LBS market that.

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Old 12-21-14, 04:15 AM
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I did go to look at shoes at my LBS. They had a quite +few different shoe styles, but only one SPD style that was appropriate to my needs.
And they were out of the right size when I went in. They said that they could have it the next day, but I wasn't there the next day.

Perhaps had I gone to a high-end MTB store instead of a Road store, I would have done better.

The LBS said they would have offered usage instructions, and would have put the pedals on my bike, and then my bike up on rollers or a trainer. Nice idea, but I had been using toeclips for almost 40 years prior to converting to SPDs... It was pretty quick and easy to learn to use them on my own, on the road, without a trainer.

Anyway, since then I've picked up a couple of previously owned SPD pedals (from an odd local new/used bike store, so it is a type of LBS), for much less than the road LBS had them. And, picked up some shoes online (not perfect, but much cheaper), and not the same brand/model the store had (a little more casual style which is good).
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Old 12-21-14, 08:28 AM
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Bikes and some items bought locally. Amazon and the Discover Card bonus point program for most. We put everything we can on the card and it pays for my cycling gear addiction.
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Old 12-21-14, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by scott967
But what has always bothered me is that I can go to a running store, and they have like 50 different shoes, and there is always someone with some good knowledge of them, plus typically they will have some sort of fit clinic now and then for more advanced help such as orthodics. Now granted for LBS the bike is much more important than the shoe, but I've never seen more than a couple shoe styles and not much help on selection. I'm guessing the mark up on things like shoes is pretty good so I don't understand why they don't push them more. I suppose they argue they don't turn the inventory enough to justify it, but it could be lack of marketing is why the inventory sits there. Probably the same thing for saddles. I hear about "test saddles" but have never seen an LBS market that.

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I think it's because:
  1. Running is more popular than bicycling, and . . .
  2. A lot of people wear running shoes even though they don't run. They just like the stylish shoes.
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Old 12-21-14, 02:31 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by tractorlegs
I think it's because:
  1. Running is more popular than bicycling, and . . .
  2. A lot of people wear running shoes even though they don't run. They just like the stylish shoes.
I'm not sure about popularity, every school kid in America does bicycling... just not with all the fancy extras.

In running, it is all about shoes. Yes, there are shorts, shirts, and sweats, but your shoes are primary with color, style, and fit being important.

In bicycling it is all about the bicycle. I'm not sure how long I'd stay in a bicycle store that was wall to wall shoes.

A bicycle in a bicycle store may be just window dressing, but it is a very vital part of the window dressing. They are nice to look at, but they also show off the latest and greatest components.

However, my primary bicycle was purchased used over 30 years ago. Over that time, I've spent the purchase price many times over on things like tires, tubes, rims, wheels, spokes, handlebar tape, brake pads, toe straps, panniers, replacement derailleur, chains, etc. The list gets pretty long.

I do carry-out, and never have a shop do maintenance for me. I'd even buy a tube carry-out for an emergency flat repair, but "service" is also a component of successful shops.

Anyway, there is a niche for all. I think companies like Shimano are actively trying to choke off their internet sales of shoes. I think it is a crazy idea, but I think they wish to prevent a person from going into a store, wasting the sales staff's time trying on a bunch of shoes, then going to buy them on the internet.
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Old 12-21-14, 06:35 PM
  #23  
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Since I'm aware of my own ignorance, I consider the LBS a valuable resource. When possible, I buy from them. However, if they don't stock something, I can order it online just as easily as they can. I also take the opportunity to tip the mechanics occasionally. That & bringing by some home-made cookies keep them working hard for ME! LOL
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Old 12-22-14, 11:44 AM
  #24  
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[QUOTE=Biker395;17403627]
Honestly, I buy most stuff over the net.---- {if everyone does this**

Bike purchases are a different matter. Fit is important, so IMHO, they should always be purchased at a brick and mortar store. -----{no one will be doing this**
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Old 12-22-14, 01:08 PM
  #25  
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[QUOTE=crazyb;17408275]
Originally Posted by Biker395
Honestly, I buy most stuff over the net.---- {if everyone does this**

Bike purchases are a different matter. Fit is important, so IMHO, they should always be purchased at a brick and mortar store. -----{no one will be doing this**
I've come to recognize that like the rest of the people in this group, as far as bicycling goes, I am a 3 sigma case (e.g. ... far from the norm). Not a lot of people ride 10,000 miles a year or 500 miles at a time. Not a lot of people have the experience or inclination to do all of their bike repair themselves. Most of my cycling friends have no interest.

So I really don't have any worries about the "if everyone does this" argument. Frankly, if everyone did what I did, bike shops would replace most car dealerships and garages, oil consumption would plummet, and bike shops would be loving it ...

... but I'm not holding my breath for that, either.
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