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I'm OK Never Setting Foot Inside an LBS Again

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I'm OK Never Setting Foot Inside an LBS Again

Old 08-30-17, 10:43 AM
  #51  
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I know the OP is there to cause trouble, but I can't help agreeing with him on some points.

I also believe that most mechanics at most bike shops around here are college kids will little experience and that don't care about bikes other than "I ride mountain bikes."

I'm sure this sounds egotistical, but I believe that working at the coop for the last 4 years has provided with more experience than most (notice, not all) of the local young mechanics. I fix bikes (not just my own) better than they would be fixed if I took it to the bike shop. Now, don't get me wrong, there are some HEAD MECHANICS that know a heck of a lot more than me, especially when it comes to newer parts, forks, suspension in general. But if you give me a bike that's older than 2005, I can fix it just as well as most anybody else, if not better.

The difference is this.

I like bikes, and I like learning about bikes. If something comes in that I haven't seen before (say, SRAM doubletap), I'll look at it, play with it for 10 minutes, figure out how it works, then fix it if need be. That sort of freedom isn't present in a bike shop situation. They HAVE to fix that problem much more quickly than I would. Speed is money. The same isn't true for me.

The older experienced guys that all of you are speaking of above are the people who grew up with bikes, fell in love with them, and decided to make a career out of it. The bad young guys are simply guys looking for a job and don't care what they do.

I've had bad local bike shop experiences. I've had the first bike I bought fixed at the LBS a couple of times. Each time I was disappointed with the result. It's one of the reasons I started doing work myself. I mean heck, I went to test ride a bike once that happened to have a kickstand and the crank hit the kickstand. Who WOULDN'T notice that? One crank revolution later I stopped and said "WTF?"

I think what bike shops don't realize is that if you fixed the bike RIGHT, instead of fast, you'd cultivate a lifelong customer. Most bike shops focus on the "speed" part. And "fix" things quickly, only to need to fix it again a week later.

I've had bikes come in to the coop who were "fixed" by the LBSs, and fixed horribly. I had someone bring in a wheel that had it's axle replaced. The axle was a quarter inch too long for the frame so the QRs wouldn't clamp down properly. How do you NOT notice that? Even if the shop didn't have the bike, you must know that you have to replace the axle with one that's the same size. That's common sense.

Don't get me wrong, customers can be awful too. There are two types for me. The first type is the nice, easy going "Fix it right, I don't care if it takes a bit longer." type. The 2nd is the "fix it now" "is it fixed yet?" type. No one likes the 2nd type.
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Old 08-30-17, 10:45 AM
  #52  
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Originally Posted by speshelite View Post
There was someone asking about buying from BD and it just reminded me of the many goofballs I've dealt with over the years at lbs's. There seem to be a handful of specific personality types at the lbs:

1) immature kids such as stoner teens that the shop hired because they're the only person in town willing to turn a wrench all week long for $8 an hour,

Walking into a bike shop is just begging to be inundated with endless examples of arrested development. Thank god for internet sales.
The weekly LBS slam.
If you are so tired of $8/hr shop employees move to a place where the minimum wage is $15/hr.

I was in a bike shop and some dufas people walked in. Instead of being polite they claimed all the prices were inflated, the brand/color/size they wanted wasn't in stock, they tried on shoes and helmets, then left without spending a penny.
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Old 08-30-17, 10:46 AM
  #53  
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
Unfortunately that can be true. Like most any service organization you have the full spectrum from really bad to really good.
Not my point. Point was yet another LBS suck thread. Low hanging troll fruit if there ever was one, especially in in this forum.
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Old 08-30-17, 10:48 AM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
I just got done car-shopping. Talk about sociopaths? Makes LBS seem like a day in the park.
I did too and totally agree! I made the mistake of giving a couple car salesman my cell number. They are relentless, even after I informed them that I already bought another vehicle.

And even the car salesman the sold me the vehicle won't stop calling and e-mailing me. They must get a commission on follow-up surveys or bringing your car back for routine maintenance. I finally ended up blocking all calls from the dealership.
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Old 08-30-17, 10:49 AM
  #55  
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You can't please everyone all of the time. OP is obviously hard to please. Sure, you can let them know you don't like them by not going there. Maybe someone there is having a bad day when you visited. But like any business if the poor behaviour is ongoing and persistent the business won't stay in business for long.
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Old 08-30-17, 10:51 AM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by WT21 View Post
Original Post is a successful compartmentalization of people, so they can be shunted aside. I am sure every one of us on this thread could be compartmentalized and then marginalized by others. (do you think bikers in general are labeled and marginalized by drivers at all???)

Interesting to me, are two different thoughts in this thread:
1) LBSes are expensive. I can get better prices elsewhere
2) People at LBS are stupid

If #2 is correct, could it be related to #1? That is, you can't get good workers, because you have to pay less, because no one wants to support local stores so they can pay your neighbors a living wage?

Meanwhile, Amazon et al are looking at robots and drones. I wonder where all the jobs have gone?

Clearly, if they are a bad shop, they deserve to close. And there are bad store owners out there. Our closest rug storee is run by a real piece of work, so we shop with the guy 2 towns over.

But in general, support local businesses. They are not all wonderful people, but then again, neither are all of us (myself included). But it's about building and maintaining a community of neighbors.
The bolded sentence is stupid. Why would I WILLINGLY pay MORE for WORSE service? No thanks. I'll use common sense.
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Old 08-30-17, 10:51 AM
  #57  
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
I've seen a few different types of bike shops in my area:

1. The established local. There's a local chain, Bicycles, Inc., that has 4 locations. They've apparently been around for 40 years or something like that. Solid service, not too flashy or expensive, huge stock, great place for a beginner, good for long-time cyclists too.

2. The fly-by-night. These are typically started by a lone wolf. They operate for a few years and seem to be making it before suddenly closing. My two favorite shops were like this; a third has opened and maybe he'll somehow establish a niche but I won't be surprised when he closes.

3. The high-end local. These seem to survive by supplying to the racing community and other high-end buyers. They seem like nice shops but I don't spend enough money on bike stuff to frequent them.


I think a lot of the small non corporate shops start a little "above" #2, wanting to be #1, and being pushed by the bike companies to be #3.

Small shop I worked for started off selling three different bike brands, what some might consider to be the "lower end" brands, or perhaps more succinctly the brands without prestige that a couple hold. In addition to the sales of those three brands the shop would also service anything. This was particularly handy with the BBS selling BSO across the street.

As time went on the shop decided to go a bit more upscale and quit carrying two of the original brands to pick up a "prestige" brand. The marketing was much more aggressive and all the employees took training classes online to learn the lingo the brand wanted us to speak. It was also much more aimed towards the "technological breakthrough" and "research and development" aspect than the previous brands. Total load of crap and not only could we, but the customers smelled it coming miles away....the brand did speak for itself and sold well.

Things started moving toward that #3 mark, and in order to carry the specific bike models we were wanting to get, we had to become a "prestige" dealer...IE, they told us what we were going to stock and had brand reps come out and set up the store layout, ad and marketing tracts, etc. We were immediately "forced" to move the second brand to the back of the store and later on this resulted in us losing the brand entirely. We became a private representative of the corporate brand. We quit servicing most other brands of bikes and particularly the BBS models (which wasn't bad for us). At first the relationship was nice. They were Johnny on the Spot about getting what we needed and would ship out non sellers to other locations free, etc. They gave us very little leeway in size or model selection based on that high end store thing. We had mountain bikes on the floor in excess of 10 grand and road bikes to boot. After things tightened up a bit after '08 the relationship suddenly changed and they called in the chips on the inventory owed from the previous year(s). Where it 'had' been "we will help sell"/"transfer out"/"give time" to sell these models and sizes we never wanted in the first place (to get what we did) the attitude was suddenly you took delivery; pay.

This suddenly made the shop #2 and forced the doors to close.
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Old 08-30-17, 10:59 AM
  #58  
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I'd love to see LBS's to succeed because it means that enough people patronize them to make it sustainable, which means that there are more cyclists out there. More cyclists on the road is better for everyone, drivers included.

I might be willing to overlook some of the minor character flaws described by OP and continue to patronized them...maybe.
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Old 08-30-17, 11:02 AM
  #59  
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It's only failing businesses who blame their failures on their customers. Have any of you ever watched "Kitchen Nightmares" with Gordon Ramsay? Most often the restaurant owners say "We need more customers" or "We just don't have the customers" or "The customers don't come in anymore." when in reality it's their awful food and service that drives customers away.

Provide good service, and people will advertise for you. Provide bad service, and people will actively drive other people away. People can't claim that the bike industry is going downhill. It's simply not true. In the last 2 years our coop has doubled in size and doubled in the number of customers that we service. We may not always do things perfectly. There are certainly "mechanics" here who don't really know what they are doing, but there are enough of us here that DO know what we're doing that people keep coming back and recommending us to other people.

There have been times where I've failed to fix things. Twice in recent memory. Both times have been with hydraulic disc brakes. Both times I bled them according to the manual and both times it didn't work. I said "I'm sorry, I don't have the experience to fix this, I'd take it to so and so bike shop and they should be able to fix it for you." And then I didn't charge them. I'm not perfect, and I will certainly admit when I'm in over my head.

Last edited by corrado33; 08-30-17 at 11:07 AM.
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Old 08-30-17, 11:04 AM
  #60  
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Apparently our local Performance store didn't perform, and is now closing shop. It was a big store like a bike department store with a little of everything.

Truthfully, though, its loss should be good for the smaller locally owned shops, so perhaps it isn't all bad.
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Old 08-30-17, 11:06 AM
  #61  
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Yes, one of my favorite #2s looked at the prestige brand route and opted not to go for it. What killed them in the end was that they needed to update their computers and business software. This came shortly after a rent increase, and just before the end of the year. On January 1, inventory tax would be due, so rather than pay for the computer upgrade and the inventory tax (along with the rent increase), they just liquidated everything and closed on New Year's Eve. The owners of that particular #2 were in their 60s. They always wanted a bike shop. Well that had one, been there, done that, checked it off the list, and got out.

I think that happens to the #2s: They launch themselves, get established, but once established a shop can't stay static; they have to evolve/change/grow in order to stay in business, and a lot of the owners decide, yeah, they've had enough, and they pack it in rather than invest more money.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 08-30-17, 11:10 AM
  #62  
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Apparently our local Performance store didn't perform, and is now closing shop. It was a big store like a bike department store with a little of everything.

Truthfully, though, its loss should be good for the smaller locally owned shops, so perhaps it isn't all bad.
I wouldn't be surprised if our Performance went the same way. There are several bike retailers in that part of town, and I think it's likely that one of them folds.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 08-30-17, 11:19 AM
  #63  
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Originally Posted by corrado33 View Post
The bolded sentence is stupid. Why would I WILLINGLY pay MORE for WORSE service? No thanks. I'll use common sense.
Worse than what? Online ordering? What "service" are you getting online exactly?

The bold sentence is only "stupid" because you took it out of context. Read the rest of the post above. Or don't. Doesn't really matter. It's just the internet.

Last edited by WT21; 08-30-17 at 11:27 AM.
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Old 08-30-17, 11:19 AM
  #64  
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
I wouldn't be surprised if our Performance went the same way. There are several bike retailers in that part of town, and I think it's likely that one of them folds.

I get that same feel from a couple of the local Performance Bike stores. One of them is nice, well stocked and neat. The other couple have half opened inventory on the floor, crap laying everywhere and a feel like the employees don't know if they have a job next week. I rather enjoy their clothing lines as they fit larger people better than some of the name brands. In spite of the bike brands they carry they are almost the only place in town (and the only one I have personally dealt with) that will allow you to return a bike immediately for 100%. Not too many shops carry bikes in the size I ride.
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Old 08-30-17, 11:20 AM
  #65  
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Originally Posted by WT21 View Post
But in general, support local businesses. They are not all wonderful people, but then again, neither are all of us (myself included). But it's about building and maintaining a community of neighbors.
I'll support them if they can provide me a service at a price that I am willing to pay (and yes, I have no problem paying a premium to see the item in person and walk out the door with it in my hand). That is the entire reason they exist. It is not my obligation to keep them in business, if they aren't doing that.

Originally Posted by corrado33 View Post
I also believe that most mechanics at most bike shops around here are college kids will little experience and that don't care about bikes other than "I ride mountain bikes."

I'm sure this sounds egotistical, but I believe that working at the coop for the last 4 years has provided with more experience than most (notice, not all) of the local young mechanics. I fix bikes (not just my own) better than they would be fixed if I took it to the bike shop. Now, don't get me wrong, there are some HEAD MECHANICS that know a heck of a lot more than me, especially when it comes to newer parts, forks, suspension in general. But if you give me a bike that's older than 2005, I can fix it just as well as most anybody else, if not better.
Agreed. I don't think there is many shops near me that can repair my bikes "better" than I can, in nearly every regard but wheels. I've probably got less than two hour labor's worth of money into the tools I needed, that isn't a decision maker on my part. They may well be able to do it faster, but my time is pretty much worthless, and I get enjoyment out of working on projects. Plus, when they have another project in queue for another customer, they probably aren't putting the detail into the work that I am.

Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Apparently our local Performance store didn't perform, and is now closing shop. It was a big store like a bike department store with a little of everything.
Two of the three near me were halved in size last summer. Even I thought they were too big, though, they stocked stuff that never moved and had floor space for every bike they stocked. Now, extra sizes of bikes hang from the ceiling, and there still isn't much they don't have of things I'd regularly be looking for. It may be a good sign, that they were able to adapt to market conditions.
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Old 08-30-17, 11:32 AM
  #66  
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Old 08-30-17, 12:01 PM
  #67  
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Originally Posted by 1989Pre View Post
You apparently know what to watch for. Not everyone is as savvy. Those are the people who need protection by society setting a high standard. The mechanics at the better shops you listed should have no problem passing a rigorous, standard test.
The four local shops around me (within 15 miles) run the gamut from great to lousy, as well.
Yelp.com

It will likely tell you first hand from other customers if the shop is good. The resources to vet a shop already exists. If a shopper doesn't use them, that's his problem.

If you put in some kind of regulation it will drive prices up and likely not do anything of any real value. You have to be licensed to be a car mechanic and pass standards and there are still a ton of garbage mechanics out there that don't know a break rotor from an oil pan. Same goes for cosmetology. You have to have a license to cut hair and pass government standards. Yet lots of people get lousy haircuts every day.

Government regulation of an industry rarely raises the actual product standards of that industry. It just adds an extra layer of cost that's passed along to the consumer. More regulation is almost never the answer to improving anything.

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Old 08-30-17, 02:09 PM
  #68  
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Originally Posted by WT21 View Post
Worse than what? Online ordering? What "service" are you getting online exactly? The bold sentence is only "stupid" because you took it out of context. Read the rest of the post above. Or don't. Doesn't really matter. It's just the internet.
In fact, at no time does the post specify any particular level of service. What it says that supporting local businesses is good for the locality ... and specifies that the business owner might not be a "wonderful" person. And further specifies that the rest of us aren't either ... which I think the response to the post proves amply.
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Old 08-30-17, 02:21 PM
  #69  
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The reason I probably won't ever enter another bike shop is purely economic---and if I do, the reason would be the same.

I don't have a lot of bike shop horror stories .... it doesn't take long to size up a shop, and when I used bikes shops I quickly narrowed down the field to two which were worth it ... and however many others, who cares?

I bear no grudges against any shops or LBSs in general. I don't assume most of them suck. I just know that it is Not my business to "support local business." (How many of them ever called me up looking to support me?) If a local business supplies a product or service the community wants or needs, it survives. If I decide to open a fried dog-turd stand, do all my neighbors have to come buy my fried-turd-on-a-stick? But I'm Local!

Money is too scarce for me to waste it on charity, so when I spend on charity I do it deliberately and carefully. I do not consider supporting a bike mechanic to be a worthwhile charitable contribution. I'd rather help people who cannot help themselves, or are in situations they cannot escape or survive without outside help. The guys in the bike shop can either make the shop work, or they can get other jobs. They don't need charity. Right now everything I have goes to stopping people from being killed for their organs in China (https://dafoh.org/) ... to me, knowing people are being arrested, held, and killed to order to provide organs for transplant is a Little more serious than the plight of the guy who cannot sell his over-priced bike parts.

So ... I will buy bike parts online ... and when (as now) all my bikes have all the parts they need ... I will Ride my bikes and not buy parts.

So ... why do I need to support an LBS?
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Old 08-30-17, 02:23 PM
  #70  
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Because he has been the only dude who could fix stuff worth a dang since his dad closed his shop and opened coffeehouses in 2001.
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Old 08-30-17, 02:40 PM
  #71  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
The reason I probably won't ever enter another bike shop is purely economic---and if I do, the reason would be the same.

I don't have a lot of bike shop horror stories .... it doesn't take long to size up a shop, and when I used bikes shops I quickly narrowed down the field to two which were worth it ... and however many others, who cares?

I bear no grudges against any shops or LBSs in general. I don't assume most of them suck. I just know that it is Not my business to "support local business." (How many of them ever called me up looking to support me?) If a local business supplies a product or service the community wants or needs, it survives. If I decide to open a fried dog-turd stand, do all my neighbors have to come buy my fried-turd-on-a-stick? But I'm Local!

Money is too scarce for me to waste it on charity, so when I spend on charity I do it deliberately and carefully. I do not consider supporting a bike mechanic to be a worthwhile charitable contribution. I'd rather help people who cannot help themselves, or are in situations they cannot escape or survive without outside help. The guys in the bike shop can either make the shop work, or they can get other jobs. They don't need charity. Right now everything I have goes to stopping people from being killed for their organs in China (https://dafoh.org/) ... to me, knowing people are being arrested, held, and killed to order to provide organs for transplant is a Little more serious than the plight of the guy who cannot sell his over-priced bike parts.

So ... I will buy bike parts online ... and when (as now) all my bikes have all the parts they need ... I will Ride my bikes and not buy parts.

So ... why do I need to support an LBS?
Yes, instead support the billionaires using automated systems to mass ship Chinese produced product. We don't build anything anymore, so why should we even have jobs to resell/move it, amiright? ("but we have jobs to code those websites!" yeah -- but not for much longer)

Don't support your local "charity" small businesses -- give it to the money-losing internet companies, who stay alive by sucking in new capital from your parent's money-losing 401K investments. Because a bike shop is exactly like a fried turd stand -- do you honestly believe that???

Then, when you don't have a job, you can ask yourself why, and cry out for a universal income, that the Silicon Valley billionaires are not going to give you.

As I said in my post further up -- if it's a bad store, don't give it business. But don't shop there and then buy online. There's a reason the nearest hardware store to my house is a giant orange box 10 miles away and even that ones under pressure from online. People prefer cheap crap over doing business with their neighbors. Don't support your local businesses -- feed the billionaires instead. Good call.

/endrant

Last edited by WT21; 08-30-17 at 02:44 PM.
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Old 08-30-17, 02:43 PM
  #72  
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Okay guys, please keep the thread on track. It's sort of on the side of the road now.
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Old 08-30-17, 02:53 PM
  #73  
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Originally Posted by WT21 View Post
Yes, instead support the billionaires using automated systems to mass ship Chinese produced product. We don't build anything anymore, so why should we even have jobs to resell/move it, amiright? ("but we have jobs to code those websites!" yeah -- but not for much longer)

Don't support your local "charity" small businesses -- give it to the money-losing internet companies, who stay alive by sucking in new capital from your parent's money-losing 401K investments. Because a bike shop is exactly like a fried turd stand -- do you honestly believe that???
You do realize many of the online retailers are nothing but small LBS themselves, right?

Tree Fort Bikes - Online Bicycle Parts and Accessories, Bicycle Tools and Maintenance

Tree Fort is local to me. They are a tiny physical presence, maybe three dozen bike (mostly plus/fat bikes), and something like a 30' wall of accessories. Pretty good online retailer, though, I like them for when I want something in a day or two but don't want to pay for rush shipping. Click, pay, pick up, and one helluva good price match policy/system. If you order from them, you ARE supporting a LBS.
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Old 08-30-17, 03:06 PM
  #74  
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
You do realize many of the online retailers are nothing but small LBS themselves, right?

Tree Fort Bikes - Online Bicycle Parts and Accessories, Bicycle Tools and Maintenance

Tree Fort is local to me. They are a tiny physical presence, maybe three dozen bike (mostly plus/fat bikes), and something like a 30' wall of accessories. Pretty good online retailer, though, I like them for when I want something in a day or two but don't want to pay for rush shipping. Click, pay, pick up, and one helluva good price match policy/system. If you order from them, you ARE supporting a LBS.
Yep.
Bike Friday is local here I'm not sure about Burley, they used to be local.

Many E-Bay businesses are very small businesses or individuals.
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Old 08-30-17, 03:08 PM
  #75  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
The reason I probably won't ever enter another bike shop is purely economic---and if I do, the reason would be the same.

I don't have a lot of bike shop horror stories .... it doesn't take long to size up a shop, and when I used bikes shops I quickly narrowed down the field to two which were worth it ... and however many others, who cares?

I bear no grudges against any shops or LBSs in general. I don't assume most of them suck. I just know that it is Not my business to "support local business." (How many of them ever called me up looking to support me?) If a local business supplies a product or service the community wants or needs, it survives. If I decide to open a fried dog-turd stand, do all my neighbors have to come buy my fried-turd-on-a-stick? But I'm Local!

Money is too scarce for me to waste it on charity, so when I spend on charity I do it deliberately and carefully. I do not consider supporting a bike mechanic to be a worthwhile charitable contribution. I'd rather help people who cannot help themselves, or are in situations they cannot escape or survive without outside help. The guys in the bike shop can either make the shop work, or they can get other jobs. They don't need charity. Right now everything I have goes to stopping people from being killed for their organs in China (https://dafoh.org/) ... to me, knowing people are being arrested, held, and killed to order to provide organs for transplant is a Little more serious than the plight of the guy who cannot sell his over-priced bike parts.

So ... I will buy bike parts online ... and when (as now) all my bikes have all the parts they need ... I will Ride my bikes and not buy parts.

So ... why do I need to support an LBS?
not so much charity as enlightened self interest. I no longer need bike shops for apparel or consumables, but I still need them for service.
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