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Best discounts @ the LBS?

Old 11-01-06, 09:53 AM
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Best discounts @ the LBS?

After reading the thread about using the LBS or internet for bicycle-related purposes, I started thinking about when the best time to hit the LBS for big-ticket items.

For the ones who are stuck between finding the best deal yet want to support the LBS, when is the best time (month, week) to come in to purchase a bike?
It could be rare to find a bike with a 50% discount (like ski/snowboard items pre-season and late season), but any discount would definitely help.

In your experience, what is the biggest discount you have found on bikes and what month was it?
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Old 11-01-06, 10:04 AM
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The best time to get a smoking deal on a bike starts around August and goes through the winter. That's when you can find a shop that is trying to liquidate last year's bikes to make room for the new ones.
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Old 11-01-06, 11:01 AM
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Discounts @ LBS? Never heard of that round here.
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Old 11-01-06, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Portis
Discounts @ LBS? Never heard of that round here.
That's because people are too busy bashin' 'em!

Seriously, we just saved a guy over $100 off what he was about spend online for an XT group and wheels.

The MO people sell for as high as the market will bear. They inflate, then offer discounts to select groups of people to create the appearance of being the best buy.
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Old 11-01-06, 11:39 AM
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Eh any time I want. Paid $1755 for a 2006 Roubaix Comp in Nov 2005, and Paid $1700 for an 06Cannondale Rush 800 in Sept. Both of those were like 20% off. Just picked up some Centaur Ergo levers for $155 again from the LBS.

If you are a good and frequent customer many a bike shop will cut you many a deal.
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Old 11-01-06, 12:29 PM
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If you want LBS discounts, there are a number of factors:

1: Time of season... Aug-Oct is when the bicycle season is winding down in most parts and when the latest year's goodies are coming in.

2: "faction" with the LBS (for you MMO players out there). Most shops run on razor thin margins, so if they know you will be back for accessories they will make profit on, they will be more inclined to cut you a better deal on a new steed. Moreso if they know you and you have bought stuff from them before.

3: Politeness. Here in Austin, there are a lot of people who have a lot of cash, and attitudes to match. Of course, they will pay the MSRP, to the penny. People who come in who show even the basics of manners will likely get a good percentage off.

4: Reputation. Shops don't really appreciate people (and will charge them full price) who browse their stuff (mainly for prices and ideas), leave without buying anything, then come in later on with some mail-order bike needing to be assembled. There is nothing wrong with buying mail-order, but (and this is a personal thing) I try to buy stuff from local shops first.
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Old 11-01-06, 01:12 PM
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At the LBS I frequent they have promotions throughout the year. When I bought my bike in March it was during their "no sales tax on bikes event" and I ended up saving $40. I've established a relationship with this shop and when I make a big purchase (like when I bought a wheelset) I get 10% off on every item I purchase. On everyday small purchases, there's no discount and nor do I expect one.

In July all road bikes were 50% off in honor of the TDF.
August-Sept there was no sales tax on bikes and the prices on the 2006 models dropped significantly, but they filled up with 2007 bikes so fast I saw very, very few 2006 bikes when their liquidation event started.
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Old 11-01-06, 02:10 PM
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5 finger discount? My LBS offers 10% off accessories when you buy a bike with them. Unfortunately all of their accessories are MSRP. Even with shipping I come out far ahead shopping online.
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Old 11-01-06, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by seriouslysilly
After reading the thread about using the LBS or internet for bicycle-related purposes, I started thinking about when the best time to hit the LBS for big-ticket items.

For the ones who are stuck between finding the best deal yet want to support the LBS, when is the best time (month, week) to come in to purchase a bike?
It could be rare to find a bike with a 50% discount (like ski/snowboard items pre-season and late season), but any discount would definitely help.

In your experience, what is the biggest discount you have found on bikes and what month was it?
After Interbike usually - although the best discounts are on discontinued items or stuff they're desperate to shift (Polar Vantage NV for less than cost )
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Old 11-01-06, 04:06 PM
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I just bought another bike from my preferred LBS. I got about 30% off an '06 model. They know me, I'm honest and polite about my needs and budget, and I bought an in-stock bike in October. Odds are they'll never charge me anywhere near MSRP on a bike. They see me once in a while (monthly?) and I buy something every time I walk in the door. We're both happy.
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Old 11-01-06, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Grasschopper
Eh any time I want. Paid $1755 for a 2006 Roubaix Comp in Nov 2005, and Paid $1700 for an 06Cannondale Rush 800 in Sept. Both of those were like 20% off. Just picked up some Centaur Ergo levers for $155 again from the LBS.

If you are a good and frequent customer many a bike shop will cut you many a deal.
Or it helps when you're good friends with the manager
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Old 11-01-06, 08:24 PM
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My LBS beats the internet on everything except for pant clips, and they compete there if you have to pay shipping, which you do. On special order items, though, they are slow. Slower than the 'net, I mean.

I do wonder if you could get a good deal at the end of spring semester in a college town, though.
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Old 11-02-06, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Lurker1999
5 finger discount? My LBS offers 10% off accessories when you buy a bike with them. Unfortunately all of their accessories are MSRP. Even with shipping I come out far ahead shopping online.
Come out far ahead monetarily? That's only one dimension. Your shop's in Boston? Wonder how steep their rent is? Are they convenient? Do they treat you well?

Dissing them to save a few bucks on accessories is shooting yourself in the foot. Accessories is one of the few places any $$ is made. They can't make it on bike sales alone.
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Old 11-02-06, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by badkarma
Or it helps when you're good friends with the manager
Well yea that helps too.
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Old 11-02-06, 09:49 AM
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4: Reputation. Shops don't really appreciate people (and will charge them full price) who browse their stuff (mainly for prices and ideas), leave without buying anything, then come in later on with some mail-order bike needing to be assembled.
This again? What the hell? So people are not allowed to comparison shop now? Everytime they walk into a store they must pay full retail on it regardless of whether it's a rip off or not?
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Old 11-02-06, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by BikeWise1
Come out far ahead monetarily? That's only one dimension. Your shop's in Boston? Wonder how steep their rent is? Are they convenient? Do they treat you well?

Dissing them to save a few bucks on accessories is shooting yourself in the foot. Accessories is one of the few places any $$ is made. They can't make it on bike sales alone.
And what do I get for the premium I pay at the shop? Is there a price list on good will generated? Does good will expire? How much of a discount do I get in the future for good will? How is it my issue if their business plan is not profitable on bike sales alone?

Must be nice to be paying Oxford, Ohio prices and telling people in Boston what to do.
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Old 11-02-06, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by BikeWise1
Come out far ahead monetarily? That's only one dimension. Your shop's in Boston? Wonder how steep their rent is? Are they convenient? Do they treat you well?

Dissing them to save a few bucks on accessories is shooting yourself in the foot. Accessories is one of the few places any $$ is made. They can't make it on bike sales alone.
Oh please. Most people don't buy online because they want to screw over their LBS. They buy online because they can pay $20 for something that would cost them $45-$60, locally. A lot of people can't afford to pay the inflated prices that are necessary to run a store front. Them's just the facts o' life.
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Old 11-02-06, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Lurker1999
And what do I get for the premium I pay at the shop? Is there a price list on good will generated? Does good will expire? How much of a discount do I get in the future for good will? How is it my issue if their business plan is not profitable on bike sales alone?

Must be nice to be paying Oxford, Ohio prices and telling people in Boston what to do.
Do you really want to know?

Let me answer with a question. Other than a few dollars in your pocket, how does your purchase at MO help anyone in your community? Let's see, fewer tax dollars generated for the local economy, greater chance of yet another LBS going bye bye, no one left to come wrench for free at your local charity rides, no one to help get new cyclists on bikes and help grow the sport...

I spend large amounts of $$ in my community to try and make cycling safer and easier for everyone, not just those whose business I have earned. I'll let you know when <insert MO company here> sends someone down to volunteer on the trails committees and goes to DC at their own expense to convince our political leaders that bikes are a solution, not a problem.

You can spend thousands at MO and your "discount" will not magically increase. Same at the gas station or at Wal*Mart. Why do you expect this to happen in a business that is barely profitable to begin with? I've been in business for myself for two years working 70-80 hours weeks with no vacation and in those two years I've been able to pay myself an amount in the high 4 figures. Thankfully we live frugally. I love what I do and do it willingly. But it is hard to see those of you who can only discern the value of an amount of money acting as is if you are wiser by avoiding shops solely on the basis of a dollar value.
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Old 11-02-06, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by MMACH 5
Oh please. Most people don't buy online because they want to screw over their LBS. They buy online because they can pay $20 for something that would cost them $45-$60, locally. A lot of people can't afford to pay the inflated prices that are necessary to run a store front. Them's just the facts o' life.
There's nothing in my store that can be had online for a half to one third of my asking price as you suggest. Nothing.

My prices are not inflated. If they were, I wouldn't be driving an 18 year old car. The flunky taking phone orders at Performance gets to take home more than what I make as a shop owner.

MO sells as high as the market will bear. They remain profitable largely because they don't need to do the unseen messy work of truly caring about cyclists and the communities in which their customers live and they pay less for stuff to begin with. The playing field ain't level. Never has been. I console myself with the fact that fewer than 13% of shoppers consider price the most important element of where they shop. The rest, I hope, value that which I bring to the table that goes past what can be easily obtained with a credit card and a computer.
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Old 11-02-06, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by BikeWise1
There's nothing in my store that can be had online for a half to one third of my asking price as you suggest. Nothing.
I'm just going by my own personal experience:
Leg warmers can be bought online for $20-$25. My LBS sells them for $49.
Clipless pedals start out at $20 online. The cheapest ones from my LBS are $60.
These are only a two examples.

I don't have anything against bike shops. I've spent quite a bit of money at shops in my area. Unfortunately, I am part of the 13% that has to think in terms of price when putting my limited "expendable" money to use. You mention that you live frugally; many people are required to bike frugally, as well.
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Old 11-02-06, 11:33 AM
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My wife got a $1100 dollar Schwinn for $499 in the first or second week of October.
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Old 11-02-06, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by MMACH 5
You mention that you live frugally; many people are required to bike frugally, as well.
I understand that! But I can't help but notice how many "frugal bikers" are very often changing parts on their bikes. I wonder how much longer their stuff would last if they hadn't gone with a part made with the lowest possible cost in mind. My father, also a frugal man, once stated he was "not rich enough to be able to afford cheap tools". I feel the same way about bike parts.

Buy it well the first time, from someone who stands behind it, and treat it well. That's frugal!

I don't know if that remotely describes your situation, but I certainly understand being frugal. It's different from being cheap. My father-in-law is cheap! He buys cheap tools that break. He's been through half a dozen drills and spent lots more than I ever did for my 9 yo DeWalt that's still going strong!
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Old 11-02-06, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by BikeWise1
I understand that! But I can't help but notice how many "frugal bikers" are very often changing parts on their bikes. I wonder how much longer their stuff would last if they hadn't gone with a part made with the lowest possible cost in mind. My father, also a frugal man, once stated he was "not rich enough to be able to afford cheap tools". I feel the same way about bike parts.

Buy it well the first time, from someone who stands behind it, and treat it well. That's frugal!

I don't know if that remotely describes your situation, but I certainly understand being frugal. It's different from being cheap. My father-in-law is cheap! He buys cheap tools that break. He's been through half a dozen drills and spent lots more than I ever did for my 9 yo DeWalt that's still going strong!
Well said. This does work well in theory. However, sometimes you don't have the money on-hand and/or credit limit to buy the better part.

Buying cheap is sort of hit and miss. Some parts last for years while others give you grief from the moment you install them. Also, if you invest in a higher end part, hopefully you'll take better care of it.

Keep up the good work.
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Old 11-02-06, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by BikeWise1
Do you really want to know?
Yes I still want to know what the value of goodwill is.

Originally Posted by BikeWise1
Let me answer with a question. Other than a few dollars in your pocket, how does your purchase at MO help anyone in your community? Let's see, fewer tax dollars generated for the local economy, greater chance of yet another LBS going bye bye, no one left to come wrench for free at your local charity rides, no one to help get new cyclists on bikes and help grow the sport...
Funny, I still end up paying "use tax" on my internet purchases. And it generally works out to the equivalent of sales tax. So no matter how I spend my money I still pay tax on it.

Unless your business plan calls for selling bikes below your dealer cost each person that buys a bike is still giving you some profit. If your business plan calls for selling bikes as a loss leader then so be it. But don't expect me to support that business plan when you don't have economies of scale to support that model.

Small businesses have it tough all over, not just LBS. Most people base their shopping patterns on a combination of price, convenience and other intangibles. But unless you're selling a far superior product for more money, your product better come with some clearly superior intangible to make up for the higher price.

My LBS salesman seemed slightly annoyed when I asked him to install the hex bolt for my seat post which he recommended I buy in place of the QR at the time I was buying my bike. I see no need to support that level of customer service. No goodwill was generated by my purchase. It reduces the equation to a pure financial standpoint and they lose on all fronts on price.

Originally Posted by BikeWise1
You can spend thousands at MO and your "discount" will not magically increase. Same at the gas station or at Wal*Mart. Why do you expect this to happen in a business that is barely profitable to begin with? I've been in business for myself for two years working 70-80 hours weeks with no vacation and in those two years I've been able to pay myself an amount in the high 4 figures. Thankfully we live frugally. I love what I do and do it willingly. But it is hard to see those of you who can only discern the value of an amount of money acting as is if you are wiser by avoiding shops solely on the basis of a dollar value.
I have no expectations of future discounts. I have already gotten my desired discount at the time of my purchase. You're saying I should spend money with you to support you yet not expect a "discount" in the future. So I get to hope that on your (not you specifically) whim I'll benefit in some way from this later on? No thanks, I make my charitable contributions to real charities, not small businesses.

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Old 11-02-06, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Lurker1999
Yes I still want to know what the value of goodwill is.
I didn't originally use that term, but I'll try to answer as best I can. I wasn't there when your LBS seemed "slightly annoyed" in fulfilling your request. On here, you come across to me as a little abrasive, but that's just my read, and I am only one among hundreds. I don't know what your personality is like in real life. That's the inherent flaw of this media. You may be "Father Theresa" for all I know. Where I am going with this is there could be a zillion reasons for your perception of how you were treated by the salesman. Are you happy with the bike? Are you glad you own it? I am not defending the salesman, just stating I wasn't there and so have no idea of the flavor of the experience...

In my area, people expect me to know their name when they walk in. We're not perfect, but we try. People shop with us because we take care of them in a way that pleases both of us. I am very fair in this regard. My mother-in-law doesn't get a better deal than you would if you walked in. Everyone who buys a bike from me gets the best service we can provide. We patiently instruct city leaders down to elementary school gym teachers about cycling, all at no charge. Our loyal customers help to finance this by choosing to keep their $$ local. It's a conscious choice. I don't know if that could be goodwill or not by your definition, but my customers seem to think there's an intangible value there somewhere.

I'm a little confused about why you even bothered with a shop to begin with. Since you apparently do not believe we have any real value, why not just buy the bike online too? It certainly would've been cheaper.

By the way, you are the first person I have ever heard of who actually claims to pay the taxes in your state for online sales from other states. At least I'm guessing that's what you meant by "use tax". Props!

Sorry for the OT.
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