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Is it bad form to not buy parts from LBS?

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Is it bad form to not buy parts from LBS?

Old 02-24-06, 12:32 AM
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azwhelan
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Is it bad form to not buy parts from LBS?

I was thinking of upgrading my handlebars but I can get them cheaper on line than at the LBS. Is it bad form to buy parts on line and have the LBS install them? Were talking an $80 differene here not nickle dime stuff.
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Old 02-24-06, 12:39 AM
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Who's money is it your using??? If it's yours, then spend it where you want and don't worry about strangers on the internet trying to tell you what you can do with your hard earned money.
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Old 02-24-06, 02:01 AM
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I agree. Some here seem to think that the LBS deserves your business by virtue of being the LBS. I believe they, like all other businesses, must compete for it. I don't think, however, that they must compete exclusively on price. The LBS offers services, advice, and easy returns that the mail orders cannot compete with.

Also, when I factor in my bike club discount and the fact that a lot of major manufacturers either do not allow online ordering or fix prices, that is, they do not allow shops to sell below a certain price (if anyone knows how they get around antitrust law doing this please enlighten me), so many big-ticket items are cheaper at the LBS.

On the other hand, closeout clothing, tires, and accessories are a steal from Nashbar and the like, and I don't hesitate to buy there. This is especially true if the LBS fails to render the non-price services that I count on them for, such as when I get misinformation or bad service. There is one shop in town that I count on for excellent service and knowledge, and I feel good about rewarding them with my business.

One thing I avoid, however, is using the bike shop to try on items and then buy from Nashbar. That isn't cool, as it takes advantage of some of the services that are paid for with other customers' dollars.

As for your question though, if you want to ask the LBS to perform a service (installing the bars), I can't see how that is unethical; however, I do think you should give the LBS the chance to earn your business. Simply telling them that the mail order offers a much better price, while stressing that you would like to buy from them because they can offer installation gives them the chance perhaps not to match the price, but lower it enough to where you could get the bar + install from them for less than you can get the bar (mail order) + install (them). There is probably a threshhold price where you would patronize the LBS--ask them to meet that price.
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Old 02-24-06, 02:50 AM
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Originally Posted by mpearson76
I agree. Some here seem to think that the LBS deserves your business by virtue of being the LBS. I believe they, like all other businesses, must compete for it. I don't think, however, that they must compete exclusively on price. The LBS offers services, advice, and easy returns that the mail orders cannot compete with.

Also, when I factor in my bike club discount and the fact that a lot of major manufacturers either do not allow online ordering or fix prices, that is, they do not allow shops to sell below a certain price (if anyone knows how they get around antitrust law doing this please enlighten me), so many big-ticket items are cheaper at the LBS.

On the other hand, closeout clothing, tires, and accessories are a steal from Nashbar and the like, and I don't hesitate to buy there. This is especially true if the LBS fails to render the non-price services that I count on them for, such as when I get misinformation or bad service. There is one shop in town that I count on for excellent service and knowledge, and I feel good about rewarding them with my business.

One thing I avoid, however, is using the bike shop to try on items and then buy from Nashbar. That isn't cool, as it takes advantage of some of the services that are paid for with other customers' dollars.

As for your question though, if you want to ask the LBS to perform a service (installing the bars), I can't see how that is unethical; however, I do think you should give the LBS the chance to earn your business. Simply telling them that the mail order offers a much better price, while stressing that you would like to buy from them because they can offer installation gives them the chance perhaps not to match the price, but lower it enough to where you could get the bar + install from them for less than you can get the bar (mail order) + install (them). There is probably a threshhold price where you would patronize the LBS--ask them to meet that price.
One of the most intelligent things I've ever heard mentioned on these forums. I agree totally.

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Old 02-24-06, 03:21 AM
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I feel ya on this. My family owns a small business and I know it's tough, but sometimes places like Performance have such great deals. If I could afford LBS stuff, I might. But for the most part I agree that the LBS needs to earn your business. The bike shops around where I live all seem to be a bit snobby, so I just head over to Performance.
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Old 02-24-06, 04:07 AM
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couldn't you install your own handlebars?- it is not difficult
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Old 02-24-06, 04:36 AM
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Originally Posted by azwhelan
Is it bad form to buy parts on line and have the LBS install them?
Unfortunately, it seems it is. Last summer I bought some cranks, RD, cassette, BB, and chain online. Got a smokin' deal through Performance after price matching and 20% off code. My LBS couldn't come close to the deal. Their price was their price and they weren't budging so I bought online and took everything in to have them install. They charged me a fair price for the install and I thought everything was kosher. Well I kept having problems with chain skipping and ghost shifting. I had to take it back to LBS several times and they couldn't seem to fix it. Finally, the owner made a comment to the effect that if I had bought the parts from him I might not be having this problem. He wasn't joking around; he was serious and visibly upset. Finally the truth came out! So, I ended up buying Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance, reading the chapter on RD's several hundred times and fixing the problem myself.

Just recently my shifter lever broke. Took it to LBS and they wanted $275 for parts and labor! I politely explained what it would cost me online and again they wouldn't budge on price. I bought all the parts online, plus a cable cutter tool, and did it myself for $145. Yea, it took me 4 hours to install everything because I had never dealt with cables and housings but it gone done right the first time and it was a very gratifying experience.

In short, I should actually thank my LBS for being the stuck up, price gouging, a-holes that they are. If it weren't for them I wouldn't be the mechanic that I am today.
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Old 02-24-06, 05:53 AM
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Originally Posted by mpearson76
One thing I avoid, however, is using the bike shop to try on items and then buy from Nashbar. That isn't cool, as it takes advantage of some of the services that are paid for with other customers' dollars.
Thank you...unfortunately, that is not an opinion shared by many...however, one can smell an internet buyer a mile away. They ask for detailed advice, and you can immediately tell that they have no intention of buying anything other than free advice.

That can be a lot of fun...

Buy where you want...but be prepared to accept the consequences.
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Old 02-24-06, 06:06 AM
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For the most part, the lowest price wins with me. I don't care if it came from Coloradocyclist, Performance, lbs, or Nashbar. I work hard for my money and refuse to pay full price to my lbs when I can buy somewhere else for substantially cheaper.

The other reason this doesn't bother me is because they get my money when I need them to install the part. So they aren't losing out too much.

Sure I purchase things from the lbs, but those are the ones that have a uniform price. I will however buy from the lbs when it is an item I am really uncertain about and want an easy return guarantee rather than go through the hassle of shipping. Also if the sales person is really knowledgeable and friendly, I will probably buy the product I am talking about from them since they took the time to work with me. See, I support them.

I know I sound crass or like I jerk right now so please don't misunderstand me too much. I wanna support these guys just as much as others do. I just have a problem paying $150 for a handlebar set when I can get it from an online merchant for $115 (just an example).

As another example, when I first went clipless, I purchase my Ultegra pedals off ebay and saved $55 - brand new. However I didn't know much about which shoes fit me or which were best for my needs. The associate was friendly and spend a great deal of time and effort showing and explaining everything to me. Shortly thereafter, I walked out paying the full price for some nice road shoes.

So it depends with me.

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Old 02-24-06, 06:09 AM
  #10  
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As stated above it depends what you buy. Spare parts, set of tires, new chain, a bike jersey, all fine if you see some great deal. A whole new bike, a new crankset you have no idea how to install, a rear derailleur you couldn't setup to shift properly to save your life, not a very good idea.

Regretably i am actually going thru this right now, i got my synapse from a place in the states at an amazing price, but now the left crank arm has a little problem with the alu and carbon joint, and i've been waitting over 2 weeks for things to be cleared up with the place in the states, cannondale, and my lbs. To make matters worse, i tried to fix the problem myself and ended up stripping the BB threads and waitted for well over a month for replacement parts from cannondale before even discovering it was the crank that was faulty.
My next bike will undoubtably be from the lbs around the corner, even if it cost's 1000$ more, it's almost worth it in time i won't have to spend sitting on my ass with no bike to ride. Had i spend the extra money at the LBS and had the same problem it's far more likely they would have simply pulled the parts off another synapse in the store room to get me back on the road asap since the synapse is a 4000$(cdn) bike locally.

Obviously if you want to establish the best rapport with a store, they want you to talk to them, and get any upgrades thru them. However most places won't get mad if you install you're own replacement chains, do your own bar tape, buy your tires elsewhere, or even learn to adjust your derailleurs on your own. Even minor things like seat change, seat post, pedal upgrades probably won't even be noticed by a LBS since they're fairly idiot proof upgrades. Start buying new forks, high priced handle bars(bling carbon), cranks, and take them to the LBS to install and you're in for it. One of the only high price gray area's that i'm still borderline with is wheelsets, so i've been trying to keep my eye open for wheels that the LBS puts on sale so i can try and get the best of both world's.
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Old 02-24-06, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by vilelamb
I feel ya on this. My family owns a small business and I know it's tough, but sometimes places like Performance have such great deals. If I could afford LBS stuff, I might. But for the most part I agree that the LBS needs to earn your business. The bike shops around where I live all seem to be a bit snobby, so I just head over to Performance.
Part of the reason why, I think the stat is that 1/3 of the bike shops in the US in the last ten years that were in business, no longer are.
Bike shop owners are typically enthusiasts, not business people. They have little to no training in customer service, and seem to have little patience with newbie's who want to get into the sport.

However, remember that your LBS pays taxes in your town and employs people and many of them are putting money back into the sport via sponsorships, things like that. Locally, if the big bike shop in my town decided to cut prices by doing away with all the programs and sponsorships that pay for a lot of the events and races and teams in town, it would do more to hurt the local bike scene than about anything else they could do...that includes spending money lobbying for bike paths, rails to trails, etc...how much money does the cut rate guy put into your local bike scene???

In our case, for about $75 and a few classes we will TEACH you how to fix your own bike. Because those customers will buy from the shop and are loyal to the shop...and the loyal good customers CAN get "deals"...it's the guy who walks in off the street that you've never seen before, not in the customer base, no prior business who starts demanding cut rate pricing...no thanks. They will never be a "customer"...

It's funny how little some folks know about how to establish a business relationship.

Believe it or not, there are people who buy from LBS's at VERY good prices. Because they are good customers.

When you guys want technical questions answered, try calling Nashbar...In other words, when you come into a bike shop wanting information, be wheeling in a bike. Walking in empty handed with a bunch of questions...
You get what you pay for.
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Old 02-24-06, 06:27 AM
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Many industries haven't yet figured out that the internet represents the future and retail stores represent the past in terms of consumer product distribution. Just look at the empty malls and retail business failures. It is a slow, painful process, but it is happening gradually. The bicycle industry is one of these industries with its head in the sand. The more enlightened companies will find ways to incorporate the internet into their business plans rather than fighting the internet tooth and nail.

I'll give you a personal example. I'm in the E-commerce business but not in the bicycle industry. I've investigated selling bicycle products on line and, basically, the industry won't do business with me unless I have a store. I may just take them up on it. I may open a store that is hidden from the public just to open up the service of supply. I've actually looked for cheap commercial space in which to do this. Imagine the silliness of having to go through this. I'm likely to do it. I'm actually considering opening a store that is guaranteed to fail just so I can buy products to fill orders. How's that for crazy? How's that for an industry that doesn't have a clue about what's going on and how future trends are developing?

The LBS is a thing of the past in my opinion. A few will struggle on just like a few computer stores still struggle on but I'm certain there won't be any growth in bicycle retailing into the future.

All this is to say you might as well bite the bullet and learn to get along without the LBS. It's bound to happen one day anyway. And I think in 20 years we'll see something replacing the internet so it will happen all over again.
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Old 02-24-06, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by roadwarrior

When you guys want technical questions answered, try calling Nashbar...In other words, when you come into a bike shop wanting information, be wheeling in a bike. Walking in empty handed with a bunch of questions...
You get what you pay for.
Try calling Excel Sports or Colorado Cyclist with questions. You'll get good answers. Nashbar is a mail order company turned internet seller. I don't see them growing into the future. These other two, while developing from retail businesses, are really what internet selling is all about. Excel's customer support is excellent. I've used it myself.

In my industry, you can get better support from internet merchants than from retail merchants in addition to getting better prices. There hasn't been any retail growth for 5 years. The bicycle industry simply hasn't figured out how to do it yet. They are still trying to fight it instead of learning to manage it.
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Old 02-24-06, 06:58 AM
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I try to buy most things at my LBS...they know I am looking on line and they give me their best price...if their best price is within reason (I make sure I add shipping when I am factoring in price differences) I will order/buy from them...they also know there are some crazy deals out there to be had and they just can't get close.

For instance there is a seller on eBay selling CycleOps Fluid^2 trainers for $205+30 to ship...this is WAY better than the $299 my lbs has them marked for...I will see what they want to sell me on for but I am guessing they can't get within $30 of that price and I will go with the online seller. On the other hand if they can get the price under $250 I will buy it from my lbs.
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Old 02-24-06, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by roadwarrior
Thank you...unfortunately, that is not an opinion shared by many...however, one can smell an internet buyer a mile away. They ask for detailed advice, and you can immediately tell that they have no intention of buying anything other than free advice.

That can be a lot of fun...

Buy where you want...but be prepared to accept the consequences.

Yea well part of being in the retail business is upplying information to customers. If an LBS doesnt like doing that then they are in the wrong business.

Personally I buy where I get the best prices on the parts. I work hard for my money and I, like most folks, prefer to get the best deal I can. If I need an LBS to install a part or perform a repair I expect to pay them for their service. As long as I pay them for their services then I see no reason why they should be upset. Quite frankly anything my LBS carries I can get for less online...so I do. When I brought my eBay bought bike into my LBS for a fitting, he admitted he couldnt come near the price I paid. I paid him exactly what he quoted me for the fitting. I also bought a different stem from him even though I know I could have gotten it cheaper off eBay. I bought it from him because he was a nice guy and it was convenient for me. Guess I did exactly the opposite of what I stated above!!
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Old 02-24-06, 07:47 AM
  #16  
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Originally Posted by mpearson76
This is especially true if the LBS fails to render the non-price services that I count on them for, such as when I get misinformation or bad service.

Same LBS sold us two bikes...one had a avatar 133, other had a alias 155, my butt fits a 145. Never once did they bother to sit me on the assometer and do a simple measurement to get the right saddle size. They also sold me the bike with a stem that was way too long, this after a so called fitting. All this I found out on my own since owning the bikes. Who knows what else is wrong. I've decided you really need to be careful who you talk to in the stores. I've run into some real egomaniac salesman and lots of disinformation.

Same thing with the mechanics. They screwed the pooch on the headset when they built it and somehow when it came back from it's '30 day' there were two spokes rattling around in the wheel and the brakes were dragging. I'm convinced this was some sort of joke on us.
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Old 02-24-06, 07:50 AM
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The only thing that irritates me a bit is when I mention I'd like to buy something expensive, for example I was in the market to buy some FSA Carbon Compact cranks, FSA K-wing carbon bars, K-Force SeatPost and K-Force Stem... I mentioned it to my LBS and he said to let him know when I am ready to buy and he'll see if he can make me a deal...

So, I go in and let him know... he proceeds to look up the msrp from the catalog and knock 10% off of it... which happens to be what he sells EVERYTHING for... that doesnt' sound like much of a deal considering how much I was looking to buy. He literally wanted over $100 more for the cranks alone that I had found them from a reputable ebay dealer. I think on those 4 parts I probably saved $250 or $275, plus I didn't pay tax.

One thing I do buy at my lbs are miscellaneous tools (crank pullers, cassette removers, etc), tubes, smaller accessories and I have him do whatever assembly I can't do or don't want to buy the tool to do. I think there are enough people in the world who pay retail and don't ask questions that I'm not going to put a dent in anything. Besides, if I couldn't get things for cheaper than local prices I wouldn't be able to afford to buy them.

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Old 02-24-06, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by roadwarrior
When you guys want technical questions answered, try calling Nashbar...In other words, when you come into a bike shop wanting information, be wheeling in a bike. Walking in empty handed with a bunch of questions...
You get what you pay for.

That's why I always end up here (int the bike mechanics forum) trying to make right what the LBS should have when I bought the bikes.

I didn't get what I paid for.
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Old 02-24-06, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by roadwarrior
Part of the reason why, I think the stat is that 1/3 of the bike shops in the US in the last ten years that were in business, no longer are.
Bike shop owners are typically enthusiasts, not business people. They have little to no training in customer service, and seem to have little patience with newbie's who want to get into the sport.

However, remember that your LBS pays taxes in your town and employs people and many of them are putting money back into the sport via sponsorships, things like that. Locally, if the big bike shop in my town decided to cut prices by doing away with all the programs and sponsorships that pay for a lot of the events and races and teams in town, it would do more to hurt the local bike scene than about anything else they could do...that includes spending money lobbying for bike paths, rails to trails, etc...how much money does the cut rate guy put into your local bike scene???

In our case, for about $75 and a few classes we will TEACH you how to fix your own bike. Because those customers will buy from the shop and are loyal to the shop...and the loyal good customers CAN get "deals"...it's the guy who walks in off the street that you've never seen before, not in the customer base, no prior business who starts demanding cut rate pricing...no thanks. They will never be a "customer"...

It's funny how little some folks know about how to establish a business relationship.

Believe it or not, there are people who buy from LBS's at VERY good prices. Because they are good customers.

When you guys want technical questions answered, try calling Nashbar...In other words, when you come into a bike shop wanting information, be wheeling in a bike. Walking in empty handed with a bunch of questions...
You get what you pay for.
Ok....I am sick of this type of statement...If you build a relationship with your LBS then you will get deals...That is not always the case...

I've been around this bend a few times with a number of LBS's...It seems that when the relationship starts everything is great...The deals are there, but as soon as you slow down in your purchases the deals stops...What do these guys think, I have a bottomless pocket of money that I can continually upgrade components for the heck of it...There's only so much stuff that I need to buy and sometimes it's pretty limited...Then when I go in needing something I get crap pricing and at worse limited selection...

I'm sorry, but a lot of LBS's end up shooting themselves in the foot...IMO the people who get the constant deals at LBS's are few and far between and those are the guys/gals with deep pockets who can continually be upgrading components...I'm sorry, but some lube, tubes, tires and chains ain't gonna cut it to keep the deals coming...Hence the gravitiation to online sources...

Now don't get me started at the crap service I have received at a number of shops when I've brought my bikes in...

Rich
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Old 02-24-06, 07:57 AM
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If I owned an LBS I'd welcome anyone in my shop with parts needing installation with open arms. They're CUSTOMERS. You win them over by being welcoming and accommodating. NOT by berating them when they've walked in your door with service business just because you didn't make $30 on the part they didn't buy from you this time around. If an LBS treats me the right way in these situations (and mine does) the likelihood that I'll by the NEXT part there - and NOT from Colorado Cyclist - is MUCH greater.

Duh. It's the LBS's job to WIN you over, not your job to WORRY about their profit margins. That attitude is CHARITY. They need your BUSINESS.
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Old 02-24-06, 07:59 AM
  #21  
Don Cook
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FWI: My thought is that if you are dependent on the LBS to take care of your bike's mechanical needs then buy your parts there. You'll pay more for the parts, but when you need other's to take care of you, the relationship becomes more important. If you don't require other's to take care of your bike for you, then buy where you wish and get the best deal you can.
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Old 02-24-06, 08:02 AM
  #22  
Jakey
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Between my bikes and parts I've spent a hell of alot of money at my LBS. I no longer feel obligated to buy stuff there. That said..stuff I want THEM to install... I am going to bite the bullet and buy it there, but stuff like tires, tubes, pedals.... I'll buy online all day long. I bought two tires, and four NICE tubes the other day online, and with shipping it was still cheaper than buying just the two tires at the lbs.
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Old 02-24-06, 08:23 AM
  #23  
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Here's what I don't understand and seems to never be mentioned in these threads. Doesn't the LBS make money on any mech work they do? If they do, why wouldn't they be happy to install bars, or whatever else? Maybe they aren't charging enough, but I would think you could make more money on labor than parts. I'm ignorant, so I don't really know, just seems that way. If the LBS gives someone a hard time about installing something not bought there, maybe they need to adjust their labor prices.
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Old 02-24-06, 08:28 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by thad
Here's what I don't understand and seems to never be mentioned in these threads. Doesn't the LBS make money on any mech work they do? If they do, why wouldn't they be happy to install bars, or whatever else? Maybe they aren't charging enough, but I would think you could make more money on labor than parts. I'm ignorant, so I don't really know, just seems that way. If the LBS gives someone a hard time about installing something not bought there, maybe they need to adjust their labor prices.
If you are a merchant of a product, you'd prefer to work on the products that you actually sell...that's just how it is in any industry. I work for a subcontractor and there are times where we won't get a contract for an installation, but will get the maintenance contract. It sometimes feels like we've been 'thrown a bone.'

The LBS would rather get both the sale and the maintenance profits.
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Old 02-24-06, 09:02 AM
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Learning to wrench means never having to apologize for where you buy your parts.

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