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Why support your LBS?

Old 04-25-19, 03:21 AM
  #1  
3speed
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Why support your LBS?

OK, so I know that's a bold thread title, but I genuinely want to know. I'm struggling with it. In general, my belief system is to support local business, try to live as environmentally friendly as current society reasonably allows(avoiding plastic, etc), be nice to others, etc. But more and more I'm finding it difficult to support LBS. Their prices seem to keep going up, and generally speaking, the service kind of seems to be going down. I recently had a stuck BB removed and it took three shops to find one with the tool to remove a 1990s BB. The charged me $20 for 10 minutes of work. I usually do my own work anyway. In that case, it would have been half the price to buy and own the tool, and do it myself(I would have if I had known it would be $20 to pull a BB). I go into shops and get "well, that's not from the Newest line of stuff, so we'll have to order it. We'll have it in a week. It'll cost $50." or I can order it online and have it to my door in four days for $30. Is this just a fluke of bad luck with where I live? Or is this just how things are going these days? Should I consider spending my money "foolishly" to try to support local people rather than big companies, because the local people honestly Can't come close to those prices? I've never worked at a shop, so I don't know if a $50 msrp means they pay $45 and charge $50 to pay their employees, or if they get it for $10 and charge $50 because that's msrp. Obviously I'm exaggerating for the sake of explanation, but hopefully it gets my point across. REI will charge $150msrp for something that I can easily find online for $100. They order in huge bulk, so I know they aren't paying nearly that. They're charging what the market will pay. Are LBS doing that, so I shouldn't feel bad, or should I be trying to support them even though it doesn't "make sense" for me financially? Are LBS just local business trying to get by, or are they priced much higher for the convenience of people who know nothing about bikes, and I shouldn't feel bad if I don't support them since I work on my bikes?
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Old 04-25-19, 04:48 AM
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Recently, two LBS worked together to retrieve my ex-GF's bike after she was severely injured in a crash caused by a dog. She first tried to get in touch with Bezos, but he didn't return the calls.

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Old 04-25-19, 05:25 AM
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Iím not sure that it is an either/or proposition. For some parts and tasks, a bike shop is fine, and even preferable. For other items I do go online and place an order.
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Old 04-25-19, 05:45 AM
  #4  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
She first tried to get in touch with Bezos, but he didn't return the calls.
Since when is Bezos expected to be in the bike recovery business (or bike servicing for that matter)? I get your point, there are things that the big A can't do for you. I have no problem paying for someone to work on my bike when it's a job that's a bit more involved, but when Bezos can get me something on my doorstep the next day, for cheaper than the LBS, it's not a hard decision to make. If my LBS had some decent inventory and didn't make me wait a week or 2 for parts that I can order myself, I'd buy them there in a pinch. I'm not talking about old/exotic parts, here. Sometimes it's hard to get even the current line of Shimano parts.

Speaking of paying someone to work on your bike, we have a service here that is basically a "bike shop in a truck". The guy pulls up with his fully stocked van, and will do repairs, tune-ups, installation on the spot. Pretty decent pricing too, and his parts inventory is surprisingly complete (again, aside from the exotic stuff).
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Old 04-25-19, 06:09 AM
  #5  
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Originally Posted by ChinookTx View Post
Speaking of paying someone to work on your bike, we have a service here that is basically a "bike shop in a truck". The guy pulls up with his fully stocked van, and will do repairs, tune-ups, installation on the spot. Pretty decent pricing too, and his parts inventory is surprisingly complete (again, aside from the exotic stuff).
Yep. And I guarantee each of them would have charged considerably more than $20 to remove the OPís stuck bottom bracket. Iím guessing most mobile bike mechanics charge more than $20 to just show up.

A $20 bill to remove a stuck bottom bracket seems pretty reasonable to me. Iíve come to realize that my LBS arenít going to have everything I need in stock. If they do, Iíll make the short drive to get it. If not Iíll order it myself.

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Old 04-25-19, 06:12 AM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by MattTheHat View Post
Yep. And I guarantee each of them would have charged considerably more than $20 to remove the OPís stuck bottom bracket. Iím guessing most mobile bike mechanics charge more than $20 to just show up.
Yes, this is true. I use them for the more involved stuff, or when I have 3 or 4 bikes to tune and I'm too lazy to do the work.

Originally Posted by MattTheHat View Post
Iíve come to realize that my LBS arenít going to have everything I need in stock. If they do, Iíll make the short drive to get it. If not Iíll order it myself.
Amen to that!
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Old 04-25-19, 06:29 AM
  #7  
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They have what I want and I can walk out the door with it right then. They generally have a drawer of take-off stems I can rummage through to find something that fits for $10-15. A couple have been in business for a while, and might have a random bit or bob that I need for an old bike in a coffee can somewhere in the basement. Also I hate clothes shopping online.

That is about it. They are a service provider to me, nothing more, nothing less. I will gladly use them if they can provide what I need for a price I am willing to pay, just like any other business out there.
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Old 04-25-19, 07:43 AM
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I only go to mine if I need something done I don't want to / can't do myself. Other than services I think the only things I really ever bought there were brake pads. My wife got her Fuji Crosstown from there some years back, though.

M.
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Old 04-25-19, 08:01 AM
  #9  
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I try to support my LBS when financially sound. Something's I just can't afford to purchase there but majority of smaller items and wear parts they are close enough to online so I support the best I can.

I rarely use the repair side of my LBS, only if I can't fix it or don't have a specific tool that isn't practical for me to purchase. Usually when I visit my LBS I get a cookie and a cup of coffee at the same time and a friendly chat if I buy something or not. They are excellent at CS, but then again I do buy all my bikes at the same store.

Anyways $20 isn't unreasonable to me. I think that is fair, a shop employee gets paid a wage and all the expenses of owning a business are pretty steep so I think that is fair.

What happens when all the LBS do close and only the "box" stores are left? Then I think things would really get wonky.
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Old 04-25-19, 08:01 AM
  #10  
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One of the two i frequent in the metro sponsors the youth mentorship program I help lead. They provide new hybrid bikes, helmets, lights, wedge bag, bottle cages, and computer for the new riders. And they do a yearly tune up for the return kids' bikes.
It's an immense dedication to the program and local community. And they get customers for life as most of the return kids who stick with the program forna few years buy road bikes from that store.

The other local shop is just really knowledgeable and has a good shop personality.


I wish I used both more, but I work on all my bikes and my family's bikes.
I will go to a local shop to special order a tool, buy a wedge bag, or get a helmet. Stuff like that. Oh- bought a topeak morph pump last week because i needed another one and wanted it right then. Cost $12 more than online, butni had it immediately.


I don't have an interest in buying bikes or service from the shops, but I recognize I am in the minority there.
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Old 04-25-19, 08:22 AM
  #11  
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I wouldn't begrudge the $20 for labor. It's a question of "can you do it, or you don't want to do it, and they can." It was 6 or 8 years ago, I brought a bike to a local shop, one of the best service shops in the area, asking them to grease the BB, replace if needed. They couldn't get the stuck BB cap off, didn't want to risk forcing it, and wanted to charge me $15. I had no problem with that, even though they couldn't really do what I wanted, except that the charge was too LOW for the time spent on it.

I did it myself later, but I certainly don't hold it against the shop. I wouldn't have known to brute-force it out if I hadn't known that it wasn't possible with normal efforts, so I had value from it regardless. I haven't asked for shop service since, but it's not about profit margins and labor charges, nor about supporting local business. Can they do something I don't want to, do they have something I need? Those are the main questions.
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Old 04-25-19, 08:38 AM
  #12  
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Support is something I do for my children, not other people's businesses.

A business has to earn my money every time I call or walk in the front door.


-Tim-
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Old 04-25-19, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by MEversbergII View Post
I only go to mine if I need something done I don't want to / can't do myself. Other than services I think the only things I really ever bought there were brake pads.
I'm glad they're there when there's something I can't (or just don't want to) do, but often getting to them is a pain. I prefer older shops because they're more likely to have parts that work with my bikes (exclusively C&V except the kids' rides). I don't expect shops to have all the parts from every single bike ever made, but consumables are nice when I'm in a hurry, which I almost never am. My wife got me a gift card to one local shop a couple of years back that I still haven't used (knee injury and growing kids has decreased the amount of time I spend in the saddle, so I'm not consuming much these days). I may see if I can use it to have them lace up some new wheels, since I dislike the final tensioning/truing steps, but at least I know I can trust my own build when it's done, so I don't know....
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Old 04-25-19, 08:48 AM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by 3speed View Post
OK, so I know that's a bold thread title, but I genuinely want to know. I'm struggling with it. In general, my belief system is to support local business, try to live as environmentally friendly as current society reasonably allows(avoiding plastic, etc), be nice to others, etc. But more and more I'm finding it difficult to support LBS. Their prices seem to keep going up, and generally speaking, the service kind of seems to be going down. I recently had a stuck BB removed and it took three shops to find one with the tool to remove a 1990s BB. The charged me $20 for 10 minutes of work. I usually do my own work anyway. In that case, it would have been half the price to buy and own the tool, and do it myself(I would have if I had known it would be $20 to pull a BB). I go into shops and get "well, that's not from the Newest line of stuff, so we'll have to order it. We'll have it in a week. It'll cost $50." or I can order it online and have it to my door in four days for $30. Is this just a fluke of bad luck with where I live? Or is this just how things are going these days? Should I consider spending my money "foolishly" to try to support local people rather than big companies, because the local people honestly Can't come close to those prices? I've never worked at a shop, so I don't know if a $50 msrp means they pay $45 and charge $50 to pay their employees, or if they get it for $10 and charge $50 because that's msrp. Obviously I'm exaggerating for the sake of explanation, but hopefully it gets my point across. REI will charge $150msrp for something that I can easily find online for $100. They order in huge bulk, so I know they aren't paying nearly that. They're charging what the market will pay. Are LBS doing that, so I shouldn't feel bad, or should I be trying to support them even though it doesn't "make sense" for me financially? Are LBS just local business trying to get by, or are they priced much higher for the convenience of people who know nothing about bikes, and I shouldn't feel bad if I don't support them since I work on my bikes?
I decided long ago that I can't do business on the basis of guilt because there's no way to "support" someone without "not supporting" someone else. There's two good bike stores in my city, and they're both good at different things, and both are non-competitive on prices with online part and accessory purchases. I go to each of them for those things they are good at or for my convenience, and I don't buy parts or accessories from either unless the need is urgent and they have it in stock. Even if I felt obligated to go local at a financial cost to myself, I would only be "supporting" one of the two stores, so would I be guilty of "not supporting" the other one?

Question really isn't whether you should take your business to a LBS that isn't reasonably meeting your needs, it's pretty obvious you have no obligation to do so. I always buy my tires online, for example. Buying from a store just means paying a premium to do so at a randomly selected store, and I'm under no obligation to do so, and can't support both stores with that purchase.

That said, I hate servicing my bikes, and that's primarily what I use the LBS for. I have, in the past, also bought a bike from both of them, but that's because they had what I wanted at a reasonable price.
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Old 04-25-19, 09:05 AM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Support is something I do for my children, not other people's businesses.

A business has to earn my money every time I call or walk in the front door.
This.

This all day long.

You run a business, not a charity.

I understand that a LBS has to charge more than REI. REI buys in much larger volume from the supplier and gets a better price, and can do a smaller profit margin that is made up with volume. The LBS pays more for the parts wholesale, and has to make a higher profit margin because they don't have as many sales.

So I get it. The LBS has to be more expensive than the large retailer. It's not their fault.

But they have to provide a value add to make it worth my money to go to the LBS.

I needed a chain a few months ago. I wanted a Sram chain that comes in 3 or 4 different grades. REI had the mid grade one for $11. The LBS has the low grade one for $25.

I like the LBS, but no. I'm not giving them a 250% mark up and getting the lower quality part just because they are working hard. I also worked hard to earn that $25. I'm not just going to give away $14 of it.

If they want me to pay a mark up, add something of value like do a full drive chain cleaning and install the chain for me.

I personally wouldn't pay $14 for a cleaning and lube because it's easy and I kinda like doing it. But you get my drift. If you want me to pay more than REI will charge me for the part, give me more than REI gives me for $11.

Last edited by Skipjacks; 04-25-19 at 09:10 AM.
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Old 04-25-19, 09:06 AM
  #16  
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If you think a bike shop is too expensive, don't support it. But if that's the case, don't whine when something goes wrong that you don't know how to fix, or can't figure out how to fix, and have to mail order a new bike because the last local bike shop went out of business.
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Old 04-25-19, 09:42 AM
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This one's quickly turning into another "I want my LBS to be all things to all people at online prices" thread. Sorry guys, I just don't have the energy for another one of these. Y'all go ahead without me.


-Kedosto
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Old 04-25-19, 10:49 AM
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Because they have become, and so now are, my friends..
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Old 04-25-19, 10:56 AM
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Did not all this just get discussed in a 6+ page thread?

Ask yourself this about your job. Why use your accounting firm when I can go online and get the same services much cheaper? Why should I spend 40% more to visit your company to get a widget made when it can be done online through a Chinese company at a fraction of the cost? Why should I hire your kid to process paperwork when I can get the same thing done by a younger, more willing person at a much lower cost?

What value does anyone bring to the table that cannot be duplicated at a lower cost elsewhere?

Why tip a waiter/waitress when they are already making 15 bucks an hour minimum wage? Seriously, we just went through all this with no discernible outcome.
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Old 04-25-19, 11:02 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I decided long ago that I can't do business on the basis of guilt because there's no way to "support" someone without "not supporting" someone else. There's two good bike stores in my city, and they're both good at different things, and both are non-competitive on prices with online part and accessory purchases. I go to each of them for those things they are good at or for my convenience, and I don't buy parts or accessories from either unless the need is urgent and they have it in stock. Even if I felt obligated to go local at a financial cost to myself, I would only be "supporting" one of the two stores, so would I be guilty of "not supporting" the other one?

Question really isn't whether you should take your business to a LBS that isn't reasonably meeting your needs, it's pretty obvious you have no obligation to do so. I always buy my tires online, for example. Buying from a store just means paying a premium to do so at a randomly selected store, and I'm under no obligation to do so, and can't support both stores with that purchase.

That said, I hate servicing my bikes, and that's primarily what I use the LBS for. I have, in the past, also bought a bike from both of them, but that's because they had what I wanted at a reasonable price.
There's only one at all in my entire county. Fortunately for me, it's down the road like 5 minutes. The next closest one is in another county, though probably only 20 minutes away. One of my coworkers prefers them, but I haven't tried them out yet.

M.
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Old 04-25-19, 11:21 AM
  #21  
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For one off stuff like a stuck BB or removing the freewheel from the rear hub of 1978 Motobecane Super Mirage I hit up the local bike co-op. They rent fully stocked work benches for $5 an hour and they sell used parts for cheap. I only visit a LBS when I need something now and I can't wait or it doesn't make sense to order online. E.g., I needed to replace the bar tape on a bike this Spring, the LBS had a 20% off sale, so it made sense to swing by and grab some Bontrager tape. It cost me less than ordering online.
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Old 04-25-19, 12:01 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Support is something I do for my children, not other people's businesses.

A business has to earn my money every time I call or walk in the front door.


-Tim-
+1

I say **** the LBS, if they can't provide the service and parts at the price and standard ppl are willing to pay, they deserve to go out of business. I can buy parts on ebay (for cheap), I can find instructibles on youtbue (for free) and friendly advice on bikeforums when I need it, wtf do I need the LBS for?

It seems like the OP has (or wants to have) a sentiment for LBS that I can't fanthom.

Kret
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Old 04-25-19, 12:13 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
If you think a bike shop is too expensive, don't support it. But if that's the case, don't whine when something goes wrong that you don't know how to fix, or can't figure out how to fix, and have to mail order a new bike because the last local bike shop went out of business.
This.
Never ceases to amaze me that some adults cannot grasp the concept of local business in general. The interweb is not a new thing anymore.
If you are unable to weigh the pros and cons between the two there is nothing strangers on the interwebs can do for you imo
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Old 04-25-19, 12:16 PM
  #24  
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In terms of "why" I've been lucky that when I needed some little odd or end, there's been about a 65% chance that they have it, and walking three blocks is worth it to check. The prices on those things haven't necessarily been higher than online, in some cases lower.

But I get that's not a viable business... they're there to sell bikes and service and accessories, not be the cycling equivalent of a neighborhood hardware store.
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Old 04-25-19, 12:36 PM
  #25  
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I go to bikeshops whenever I am in the mood to be profiled and sold a hybrid or beach cruiser.
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