The Angry Singlespeeder: Don’t “Showroom” Your Local Bike Shop

Opinion

Brendan Collier of The Hub Cyclery in Idyllwild, CA works in front of a warm fire.

Editor’s Note: The Angry Singlespeeder is a collection of mercurial musings from contributing editor Kurt Gensheimer. In no way do his maniacal diatribes about all things bike oriented represent the opinions of Mtbr, RoadBikeReview, or any of their employees, contractors, janitorial staff, family members, household pets, or any other creature, living or dead. You can submit questions or comments to Kurt at singlespeeder@consumerreview.com. And make sure to check out Kurt’s previous columns.

The other day I was at my neighborhood bike shop when I saw this schmucky looking dude trying on some cycling shoes. I too was checking out shoes, but only ones that were on sale because, well, I’m a cheapskate. After trying on three pairs of spendy carbon sole shoes, Schmuck seemed to find a pair he liked. So instead of putting the shoes in the box and walking to the register, he pulled out his smartphone and took a picture of the shoebox.

Considering I still rock a dumb-phone and am clueless about anything related to apps, I asked him what he was doing.

“There’s this cool app that lets me check to see if I can buy these shoes for cheaper online,” said Schmuck. “Yep, here we go. Sweet. I can get these for $75 less on Amazon!”

Schmuck got up, put the shoes back on the rack and walked out the door. For a fleeting second I thought it was a damn good idea for an app, but then I realized something; as much as I think Strava sucks, trying out products at your local bike shop, then using your smartphone to buy it cheaper online is even worse.

What Schmuck was doing is called “showrooming” and it’s become a huge issue for independent bike dealers worldwide. According to marketing research companies Aprimo and Forrester Research, one in five consumers are now showrooming, and one in three leave the store like Schmuck, and then purchase the product from a competitor.

I don’t care if you want to go to Target or some other big box, corporate-owned store worth billions of dollars and showroom a set of cooking pans or a Dutch oven for your wife, but woe to the schmucktard who walks into a local, family-owned bike shop and showrooms.

 
Bike shops supporting bike shops. A mob of Adams Ave. riders at Velo Hangar in Solana Beach, CA

Hey, here’s a crazy idea. Why not take that pair of shoes up to the counter, show the owner of the shop what you can buy it online for and see if he might be able to work a discount? The bike shop might not be able to sell it as cheap, but you’ll save on shipping, you’ll get personalized service and most importantly, your schmucky cheapskate actions won’t be slowly eroding the business of a local bike shop owner and the entire bike industry as a whole.

If your weak justification for showrooming is that don’t you like your local bike shop anyway, then don’t go there to begin with. Either buy the product online and run the risk that it might not work out, or find a bike shop you like and support them. If you try to use some lame economics 101 justification about “healthy competition”, stop for a second and think; do you care the slightest bit about an industry that provides you with incredible technologies to ride a bicycle further, faster and more effortlessly than ever? More importantly, do you care about the people in the bike industry who work tirelessly every day to make a living?

Of course consumers aren’t entirely to blame. Some online retailers and eBay sellers make matters all too tempting, advertising product prices lower than what a bike shop can even buy them for. Companies like Shimano and Specialized are putting an end to this, cracking down on retailers who sell below minimum suggested pricing (MSP). But there are still plenty of brands out there that can be showroomed.

If you do decide to showroom or choose to buy a product online instead of at your local bike shop, if and when the product breaks, don’t be a colossal schmuck and march into the bike shop you just slighted to demand they warranty it for you. The extra money you pay at a locally owned bike shop is for the personalized service that no online price-finder app can deliver. Who knows, they might even help you find a pair of shoes that fit your feet better and cost less than the pair you just showroomed.

If you’re a true cheapskate who does all his own wrenching and simply refuses to pay full retail for products, then either stick with quality online retailers without showrooming your local bike shop, or better yet, buy what you seek slightly used from private sellers on Craigslist or eBay. There’s always someone who paid full retail for a bike that did nothing but collect dust in a garage, and these gently used bikes can be bought for less than half of retail cost.

In the end, you get what you pay for. The little extra you spend at a reputable, locally-owned bike shop will not only pay off with personalized customer service, but you’ll also feel good in knowing that you’re supporting a fellow cyclist who lives in your community. And most importantly, you won’t be acting like a schmuck.

The Angry Singlespeeder: Don’t “Showroom” Your Local Bike Shop Gallery
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Gregg demonstrates showrooming

taken at Passion Trail Bikes - Belmont, CA (Thanks to Dave for the pic!)
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The Hub

Brendan Collier of The Hub Cyclery in Idyllwild, CA works in front of a warm fire.
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Adams Velo Hangar

Bike shops supporting bike shops. A mob of Adams Ave. riders at Velo Hangar in Solana Beach, CA.
About the author: Kurt Gensheimer

Kurt Gensheimer thinks the bicycle is man’s most perfect invention. He firmly believes ‘singlespeed’ is a compound word. He sometimes wears a disco ball helmet. He is also known as Genshammer. He is a Gemini and sleeps outside in a hammock.


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  • SV says:

    So is it ok to showroom @ performance since they’re a mega corp? The guy you described is a total douche, but this is the reality of retail now. Also you dead on nailed it re: don’t shop at stores you don’t support and buying used if you are a cheapskate. There is one arrogant shop I know where they won’t bend on price no matter what prices you show them, charge more than MSRP, charge outrageous labor costs, and act like they don’t need your business. Because they know they can find a schmuck willing to pay 3k for a frame or 50 for a bleed.

    • Scott says:

      The local Performance hired most of the best mechanics in town because they offer benefits and better pay. I want to buy local when I can but it’s hard when Performance treats their employees better and I can get *near* internet prices.

    • Kiwisurfer says:

      Are you in Lafayette Ca? You described our downtown Trek dealer. They charge you to clean a not so dirty MTB before they work on it. Ever pay $60 for a bike wash, let alone a car wash? Showroom them every chance I can.

  • Dave Westy says:

    So, how about the guy working at the LBS actually providing a service. In your example the guy was on his own looking at expensive shoes. If the LBS wanted to make a sale then they should have provided some added service. Most LBS’s I have been in seem to take a disinterest in the customer. Sorry, but paying more for a product and not receiving a benefit in return is just silly. Meanwhile, the online retailers are upping their level of service with easy returns, free shipping and superior technical knowledge.

  • Tom says:

    I live in an area where there are relatively few MTB enthusiasts. There is really only one shop that I’m aware of out of the 5 or so local ones that even knows what I’m talking about when I walk in and ask if they have any float fluid or a top out bumper. Once I visited three places before finding one that had a shimano-compatible external BB. Needless to say these places are not intended to serve enthusiasts because our numbers are so few. They sell sub-$1000 bikes to people who hardly ride and don’t know how to change a tube. That’s their business model. So shopping online makes a lot of sense for me, BUT I would never go to a shop to try on clothes or shoes, find something I like, and then go buy it online. If they are providing a service that I can’t get online (trying before buying) and they are selling something I want, the only retailers they have to compete with are other local ones as far as I’m concerned.

    • Bicyclewrench says:

      Where do you think enthusiast level shops went? When I can’t sell a high end bike at anywhere near margin I can’t justify keeping it on the floor. I’ve had too many 3 and 4 thousand bikes sit on the sales floor because guys like you quit buying them in the shop. Does it matter that I still adjust every hub tension every wheel educate every new mountain biker on sag rebound and compression wrap the chain stay and actually fit the bike? Nope “enthusiast” want it for a nickel over wholesale and your ripping them off if you expect to actually feed your family. I’ve taken over a 50% paycut in the last 5 years and I question why I ever got my stack of certifications in the first place.

  • The Angry Singlespeeder says:

    I totally agree with the comment that if a shop employee isn’t taking care of a customer, then maybe the shop deserves to lose the sale. But sometimes things happen. A shop gets super busy, they’re shorthanded or an employee is out back taking a dump. Whatever. I just think going into a shop with the intent of birddogging the products, then buying it elsewhere is bogus to the nth degree.

    ASS

    • sam says:

      true but if an employee was helping him i’m fairly certain he wouldnt have done what he did. i’m someone that asks shops how close they can come to other shops and online, i almost always buy from LBS cuz they almost always take care of me. however, theres shops i just dont go to because of failed service and a shop cannot be upset when someone does this and they werent in front showing a product. if a shop leaves it up to the customer to find their size in a stack of shoe boxes and try them on themselves then they dont deserve the sale. if the shop is swamped then they should say “we are swamped, be with you in a minute, heres a brochure.” choosing to do nothing will and should result in show-rooming. also, shops need to be smart and if they are carrying a product that sells to gray market vendors then perhaps they should look at other brands. sales are based on price and service not just one or the other.

      • Bicyclewrench says:

        Iincorrect. I see it ALL the time. Spend lot of time with the customer. Answer all thier questions make suggestions on what may work better just to have them thank me and spend there money on Amazon.

    • Hans Gruber says:

      Your argument sucks and I’m tired of making excuses for the LBS. Trying to take some moral high ground for not shopping online is terribly outdated. Bike shop or Neiman Marcus we are all now savvy consumers. Who the fuck goes to buy a car without researching incentives or invoice pricing online? Why should bike products be different? I do my best to purchase from the lbs however there are so many things to consider. If the shop lacks good customer service fuck them, and despite your moral high ground this happens often. If your lbs refuses to match or come close to matching an online price fuck them. I purchased a bike with a 5300 mrsp online for 3900 out the door. I went to three local shops hoping to purchase the exact same bike within 500 dollars to support my lbs but none would offer more than 10% off. Why would I fork over 1k more to support my lbs instead of keeping that in my pocket?

      The fact is brick and mortar or online these businesses are competing. To blame the faults of companies failing to support IBDs on the consumer is BS. The consumer is not to blame its the bike manufacturers and component companies that wil do anything to make a buck Shimano and Specialized(yuck!) excluded. The bike industry has traded too much and too long on this misguided bro cred when in reality we all want to ride the best we can afford without making ourselves poor. Adapt or die. To call this intelligent consumer a schmuck is in fact ignorant. Perhaps he already knew what the shop’s lowest price was. You don’t get wealthy giving your fucking money away. Rant over.

      • Bicyclewrench says:

        You are a schmuck. The time effort I put into making that bike as safe trouble free and the best performing I can doesn’t matter to you. The time I spend educating the consumer on every option I have for them doesn’t matter to you. The time I spend setting your machine up for you the individual doesn’t matter to you. The service I provide after the sale doesn’t matter to you. The time I spend on the phone trying to clear up a warranty problem or track down the last whatever that three years ago was great but now nobody supports it anymore doesn’t matter to you. I watch douche bags like you buy the wrong size or poorly built bikes all the time. Got a 4500 dollar machine sitting in my shop right now from some jack ass who got a great deal. Doesn’t matter that it’s two sizes too big and he lunched a Dura ace rear derailleur because no one set the limit screws. (you DO know what those are don’t you?) The company can’t get him the right hanger. Been sitting there for three weeks now. Not my problem. MY customers are riding. Guys like you are a waste of my time. Half the time your more worried about what brand your riding and what derailleur is hanging off your bike. Go ahead buy the best equipment you can afford whether it’s set up right or not. You wouldn’t notice anyway.

      • Kieran says:

        “If your lbs refuses to match or come close to matching an online price fuck them.”

        Never mind that the LBS has to pay rent, and buy stock up front, so that you can go in and try the products out, (let’s not even talk about paying knowledgeable staff to give you advice), none of which the online retailer has to do. It is economically infeasible for the LBS to match online retailers’ prices. In fact, online retailers can only sell so cheaply because they parasitise the services provided by the brick and mortar stores. Taking your attitude leads to wiping out LBSes and creating a world in which the only cycling gear you can buy comes from online retailers, and it is impossible to try anything out or get advice before buying. You are not just a schmuck. You are a malicious, sociopathic schmuck.

    • Chris Gaunya says:

      I absolutely agree. Going into an independent shop with the intent to “show room” is just rude. Most shops I have been in offer good service and that is something you can’t get with most online retailers. I like to develop a relationship with a good and reputable LBS. A shop I went to for years always gave me a good price on items and repairs and I became friends with a lot of the guys who worked there. I always knew the guy wrenching my bike. Now having said that, if I do see an amazing price on something I need online, yeah, I’ll take advantage of it once in awhile, but I won’t bird dog it a local shop.

  • Shawn says:

    The reality is that it’s the Vendors that are letting down the LBS and the industry by not policing their pricing and selling at low cost to online vendors. US Online shops have similar issues when trying to compete with Chain Reaction and big box bike shops outside of the US. While the concerted efforts by the consumer to patronize their LBS sounds nice, simple economics will win out the majority of the time. Can you blame them? It starts with Vendors like SRAM, Shimano, Fox, etc. to ensure that everyone is playing on a level field. It is the only way that your LBS can ensure that they can sell for appropriate margin to stay viable.

  • roger says:

    Unless you already are, don’t expect to become a millionare owning a bike shop. Start a site like MTBR and get manufacturers to advertise on your site, that’s how it’s done! I’m poor, my mt.bike cost more than my car!

  • Boss Hogg says:

    “Hey, here’s a crazy idea. Why not take that pair of shoes up to the counter, show the owner of the shop what you can buy it online for and see if he might be able to work a discount?”

    So it’s the shopper’s job to let the bike shop know that it is way overpriced?

    Don’t think so.

    How about this – don’t jack up prices to a ridiculous level if you want to sell stuff.

    Or, how about this, if you own a shop and you can’t be bothered to know that the shoes you’re selling or $225 dollars can be had for $150 on the interwebs, put up a sign saying that you will match all internet prices. Or if that cuts too much into your profits, that you will match all internet prices less $5-10% because your overhead is higher, you provide service, blah, blah, blah.

    • Bicyclewrench says:

      So I’m supposed to sell every thing in my shop at a nickel over wholesale? I can’t BUY this stuff for what it’s going for on the internet. Here’s how it works. Distributors have multiple tiers at which you purchase things as a shop. The less you buy the more it costs you. HUGE companies that don’t provide ANY customer service or have ANY product knowledge can buy containers of lets call them whatits and all but wholesale it to you. My little shop can buy a little box of whatsits that cost almost as much to ship and of my customer base only 2 people want one. Now god forbid I don’t have the particular “whatsit” your bike takes in stock or I’m a “crappy shop” never mind there are 15 billion different whatsits for half a dozen standards I’m supposed to have them all. Keep in mind that keeps me at bottom tier for EVERYTHING I order.

      • Jimi Nixon says:

        I saw your comment about being in the bottom tier for getting stuff from the manufacturers wholesale. Here’s an idea you might want to look into: Get together with a bunch of other LBS shops nationwide (or at least region wide) and see if you can ascertain how many “whatsits” of a given type you all might need in a certain time frame. Then purchase those and put them in a warehouse (or arrange a floating stock between your various stores and charge each other minimal shipping) so you can get the better discount.

      • Beaupré Bodacious Bicycles says:

        Bicyclewrench, I agree with everything you have said. The problem is that your arguments, while absolutely clear, concise and excellent in every way, are falling mostly on deaf ears. The ones opposing your arguments have clearly never owned a bicycle shop. My small shop in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as most other small shops around the country, experiences the same “evil/schmucktards” forces at play. All I can say is keep fighting the good fight and appreciate all your best customers, as I’m sure you do. I call my best customers my “Bread and Butter” customers: the ones that really appreciate your expertise and knowledge base and keep returning to prove their appreciation with their dollars. Cheers.

  • Richard says:

    I’ve been priced gauged by a local bike shop in Fullerton CA , not going to say which one. But being charge 40% over msrp is not cool. I put my faith in them and they try to rip me off, not cool. I get better customer service from online retailers than my local bike shops, plus the selection is better.

  • dtimms says:

    You can’t fix a bike on EBAY! Support a LBS cause when you need one you need one! You may pay a little more for gear, but when your fork seals blow and you are heading to Moab the next day, a six pack and good relationship with your shop will get your bike fixed before you leave town

    • dude says:

      Or learn to wrench yourself, it’s quite easy. You never have to worry about a last minute mechanical and whether your buddy at the LBS can fit you in.
      I have no allegiance to any LBS because they pretty much all over charge for service, have inflated pricing on most gear, and generally a lack of selection. If I need something in a pinch I’ll call around for it, and swing by for the “need it now” premium. Otherwise there is zero need to ever set foot in one.

  • Shop Dick says:

    Boss Hogg, As easy as “Matching online prices” sounds you do not understand that the “online price” is just above what a LBS pays for the parts/ product + shipping and online business sells thousands of the same product to justify selling a (example) external bottom bracket 5$ above cost. This will not pay the light bills pal. We hear it everyday at my shop, customers shoving their phones in our face. And with that said “I” treat them as they treat us.. Like a Dick!

  • dp says:

    shops have overhead that online retailers don’t. it’s impossible for them to sell products at 5% over their cost and remain in business. i haven’t seen it on the bike shop side, but i’ve noticed a growing trend among ski shops that charge ridiculous prices to mount or adjust equipment that wasn’t purchased at their store. i bought my last pair of tele skis online, and brought the skis, binding, AND the jig to mount them to the shop. it took a week, and they charged me $80. for TELE bindings. 12 screws, no adjusting and testing required. had i known, i would have bought a drill, threw a stop collar on a drill bit, and spent the leftover money on beer.

  • Mitch says:

    Same thing happens in specialty running stores – “customer” tries on several pairs with help from a fitter … then says “I’ll think about it” and buys online.

    It’s sort of a “tragedy of the commons” issue: if everyone did that there would eventually be no bricks and mortar stores.

  • Edward says:

    I went into my LBS a few months ago to get a pair of shoes. I was aware that I could get some of their shoes online for much less but I stuck with it incase the ones that weren’t online were the ones that fit. I ended up finding a $500 pair extremely nice (that weren’t online) and asked if they could do any better on the price. Because I was a repeat costumer they ended up selling them to me for $380. Even if you overspend on your first few purchases at a LBS it’ll start making sense when the staff are giving you huge discounts on things later down the road. If it’s clothing or something that needs to be tried before bought, I go to my LBS. But if it’s something like a derallieur where it’s $300 in the LBS and $180 online, I just cant justify the LBS price.

  • gb says:

    As a person with investment in both IBS and online sales. I would embrace and welcome showrooming. You have an opportunity to influence the customer. They may make other purchases and may use your mechanic services as well. It’s always good when they come into your store. Sales taxes aren’t really relevant. That is a meme going around to support the anti small business/ control the internet legislation, internet “fairness” act (supported by online giant Amazon BTW). Paying state sales tax and user tax is actually the responsibility of the consumer. It is a tax on the consumer not the retailer. Shipping costs are higher than tax and that doesn’t seem to even the playing field. Online sales increase the efficiency of and contribute gigantically to the economy and the gdp. We are in a recession you know. It’s also good for entrepreneurship and evolution. Monopolizing access to products for profit is a form of extortion and it is a dying niche. Dealers who rely on for profit will soon die off. A successful IBS has great expert service, quality genuine products, in stock selection, and expert mechanic service, and rely less on retail margins. If you want better margins I recommend cutting out wholesalers like qbp sbs and buy direct from manufacturers. Squeezing your livelihood out of the customer and not welcoming them into your store is like biting the hand that feeds you. I don’t think it wise to alienate customers who “showroom.” This is a bull shit meme that will scare your customers away.

  • Bokchoi Cowboy says:

    The topic of “Showrooming” is a big deal all over the ‘net and television media lately. Has anyone seen the report of how a Brisbane, Australia specialty food store decided to combat the problem?

    The have posted a notice in the store that they will now charge a fee of $5 for people “just looking”, which is refunded when a purchase is made:

    Text of notice:

    ” As of the first of February, this store will be charging a $5 fee per person for “just looking.”

    The $5 will be deducted when good are purchased.

    Why has this come about?

    There has been high volume of people who use this store as a reference and then purchase goods elsewhere. There people are unaware our prices are almost the same as the other stores plus we have products simply not available anywhere else.

    This policy is in line with many other clothing, shoe and electronic stores who are also facing the same issue.

    Management.”

    I can see this completely backfiring on the business owner, but is does show the level of frustration caused by “Showrooming”.

    Link to story: http://www.geekosystem.com/store-charges-showrooming-fee/

  • roger says:

    Let’s talk about the bike mechanics in the LBSes! LBSes in San Jose pay attention, i’m not going to drop names! I’ve been ripped off on that department too! I bring in my hub for a rebuild, got charged $40, only to find out that didn’t get done. Wheel builds that were not laced and tightened properly! Chriscrossed cable routings, wtf!! Installing short chain on a 10in travel DH bike….etc.

  • Angus Henry says:

    If you are sitting on a chair in a heated and well lit shop then you have already benefited from the fact that someone has put up a “bricks and mortar” place. They have accrued a cost and you have accrued a benefit.
    The margins in a bike shop are small and owners earn every penny. A city with a lot of bike shops is invariably a very healthy place to live and they deserve our support.

  • Leonard says:

    The LBS needs to realize that at some point they will lose sales to showrooming customers. It seems like the 800 pound gorilla QBP and other wholesalers who LBSs get their parts from should be working hard to ensure the LBSs gets the sale. If the LBS gets the sale then the wholesaler gets the sale, its good for business. Its seems, however, that QBP and other wholesalers holds the shops captive with too high of prices. I know some MFGs sell directly to shops, but why an LBS cannot purchase directly from Shimano makes no sense. I’ve often wondered if a coop style wholesale arrangement would be more effective for LBSs. Another problem with the LBS is dealing with staff and having to explain what I’m looking for. It seems I have to wade though opinion and often someones attitude to get what I want. Good salesmen who understand what kind of customer is in front of them are few and far between.

  • Jesse says:

    Jason hall hit the nail in the head.

  • Rick says:

    Why is it being a “cheapskate” to do all your own wrenching on bikes? Where I come from it’s called “self-sufficiency” and “skills”. FFS…

  • henrymiller says:

    I hate to be screwed by any retail. When i go in, I understand that i’m paying for parts, feeling/seeing parts and talking to someone knowledgeable about the part.
    I admit, i do buy many parts online. I won’t buy part online and then take it to LBS to install/ adjust. i did it once and felt like a tool. Support the LBS if you can, If you can’t, don’t screw them.

  • Dan Mitchell says:

    A LBS has only so much buying power, shops like Performance, price point and Jenson purchase in such huge quantities that there is no way a LBS can really compete. Standard markup is 30-40%, that is not very much figuring the overhead the shop has to incur. Tubes have the most markup which is over 100% but that is the only real item that has that high of a markup.

    • SV says:

      BTW Jenson is an LBS in the IE with 2 branches and great staff. Same with UC in oregon, Art’s in SLO, etc. Don’t lump them into the Performance category. And to the poster who was complaining about the LBS in fullerton. Please go to The Path. They are the model of what an LBS should be. Always reasonably priced, never over MSRP, will cut repeat customers a break, 10% off for mentioning STR, etc, and the support is unparalleled.

      • Oliver says:

        I have to agree with you 1000%!!!

        Every LBS shop owner owes them selves a trip to The Path Bike Shop. If more LBS were like The Path, internet sales would not be so popular.

        I never bought anything online when I lived within driving distance of The Path. Always had what you needed, prices are always competitive, and they know how to treat a customer.

        Seriously shop owners, if you are remotely close to The Path, go there, and model your shop like theirs! You will have little problem with people shopping your store and going else where.

        The real blame I feel falls on the shop owner, and their employees. I have been to some seriously horrible shops in my time. Nine times out of ten, the selection is poor, prices are grossly overinflated, and I generally no more about available products than the elites employee.

  • Gabe says:

    Showrooming is only a fade anyway. Online retailers are getting so good at getting the sizing and the fit right, you hardly need to try in a store before buying. You can virtually try glasses before buying and see what they look on your face by using your webcam. Running shoe stores have shoe fitting tools. Tirerack as a tool to render the wheels you want on your car. These tools will only get better. Add fast shipping, greater selection, cheaper price and online shopping is much better then old fashion retail. I like the convenience factor of shopping online and I hate spending time in a shop to build a relationship. I`d rather be riding then driving around looking for parts the LBS most likely won`t have anyway.

  • Daniel Roper says:

    why don’t care if people ‘showroom’ at big department stores like Target? Who do you think employs all the other people with families that don’t want to own a bike shop.

  • NewWheeler says:

    Having ridden absolutely nothing but rigid cro-mo mtb since 1984, I finally broke down and got on the foil (aluminum). I just dropped $1,000 today at my LBS for a 2012, 23″ Cobia 29er. I was grateful for their knowledge and enthusiasm for my business. They made that sale happen. Dude even matched the $50-lower price of a crosstown competitor without any hesitation.
    Before they assembled it, I brought in an XT front brake assembly (lever, hose, caliper) and an X7 long-cage rear derailleur I’d bought online. They slapped the stuff on without so much as a blink and bagged the stock bits for me.
    I told LBS dude I was grateful for getting the bike on sale at his store but mentioned some of the U.S. online providers (I’m up north) sell complete XT front-brake assemblies for half or less than he does. He just said I did the right thing buying the bike from him. Getting bikes in the mail is risky business. Parts, not so much. I assured him I’d check on all parts (crank and wheelset will be next at some point) from him first. He said fine, but added if there were smokin’ deals elsewhere, I should check into them.
    What he’s done is ensure I’ll be back for another bike (if I ever need one) and that I bring all my family bikes to his shop for service.
    Will I ever use his store to source parts to buy elsewhere more cheaply? Probably not. I’ll do it in reverse. I’ll tell him I’ve found a pre-laced set of Azonic Outlaws online for $350 with BB and skewers and ask him if he can do the same. If he can come close, the money stays with the store. If not, it goes online.
    He seemed fine with that, as did I.

  • NewWheeler says:

    Oops. What I meant to say was hubs and skewers, not bb and skewers.

    • Mark Andrews says:

      Now that is the appropriate way to handle the situation. Be an adult and tell the LBS up front what you want and where and how much you can get it for.

      • Mark Andrews says:

        Then let the LBS worry about profit margins and whether your sale is worth it. I never thought of the anacronym for Angry Single Speeder was ASS! LOL

  • criscobike says:

    There is something to be said for supporting a local business. Sure I can find things cheaper if I really hunt, but I like supporting the locals who often put a ton of the profits back into things for the community like local races, trail building, etc. Sometimes you get what you pay for. The more a shop knows you support them, the cooler they in turn are to you. Sometimes, they work out an extra discount unexpectedly. Or they do a tune up for free. Or if nothing else, they become your friend.

  • picassomoon says:

    “If you’re a true cheapskate who does all his own wrenching and simply refuses to pay full retail for products, then either stick with quality online retailers without showrooming your local bike shop, or better yet, buy what you seek slightly used from private sellers on Craigslist or eBay. There’s always someone who paid full retail for a bike that did nothing but collect dust in a garage, and these gently used bikes can be bought for less than half of retail cost.”

    This is exactly what I do. I would never go try on shoes at a shop if I had no intention of buying any. Online sizing charts have served me pretty well. Stuff like Specialized and Bontrager are generally shop only so I would maybe try on and buy at an LBS if there were sales. I still use LBS’s for certain things, but I try to suck it up and not use them/waste their time on something I know I will be getting online. I’m still not really supporting them this way of course, but at least I’m not a dick to them in person.

  • bikebum says:

    Was at local “i’m better then you and you don’t know a damn thing about bikes” shop not too long ago, they had a photo booth in the back of the shop to sell their stuff online. Retail up front, discount online out back. They cry to “shop local” and then sell at a discount out the back door.

  • Jason says:

    As a consumer I am looking for something beyond the bottom dollar. A local shop cannot compete price wise with online shopping, period. But they can offer other things that online store cannot, like service, advice and conversation. One of my favorite bike shops also has an amazing barista. So I know when I go into the shop to look for something I also know I can get a great cup of coffee. Or how about if you buy shoes the shop will adjust the cleat and fit. Simple stuff that can go a long way with customer loyalty.

  • Iowinos says:

    95% of the LBS employees I have dealt with have been dismal in terms of customer service. I hate saying that, because I love anything connected to cycling culture and try to support whatever I can. I would chalk my experiences up to a uniquely bad shop, but bottom line, in dealing with probably 10 different LBSs over the years, I typically get better service at the local McDonalds (seriously). I don’t know if shops are used to dealing with clubs and teams (I ride alone pretty much) or what, but I’m rarely satisfied with my LBS – not good with people, often surprisingly lacking in product and service knowledge, and standoffish if you even suggest you’re shopping for the best value for your $$. Couple that with poor selection and steep pricing, and the LBS value proposition is a challenging one. In a free market, the consumer is required to vote with his/her money and vendors should develop business models to create competitive advantage. Until the local LBS can evolve to truly compete in a competitive market, it will continue to be at a disadvantage. I wish it were different.

  • Justin says:

    Who is this writer that he can call anyone looking to save some money in a recession a schmucktard? I am a carpenter who typically sees a fair bit of the year laid off due to inclimate weather. When I purchase products 40% cheaper online most of the time it’s from where? Wait for it… Someone’s LBS! So I don’t buy into the hype that your LBS is the place to spend your hard earned money. If they were a little more into getting people out and on the trails for a reasonable price instead of gouging I would be open to spending money there.

  • d.peper says:

    I try first to always to buy from my lbs and realize that yes they have to make money and I want them to. I usually have an list of items that I’d love on my bike or in my pack or on me:) I do just what the writer says and usually the shop will work with you. Usually because shop owners and employees are riders them selves and good people. Even a number close will real me in. I want it NOW!

  • Seth says:

    This comment section is terribly depressing. People need to stop this sh*t, its getting out of hand. People are not only outrageously selfish these days but absurdly short sighted as well. Saving a few bucks today contributes to killing your local economy and this sport, which LBS’s are a part of. I’d like to see Amazon help you out next time you screw your bike up and need a real bike mechanic to fix it. And Im sure everyone has had an experience where online reviews have been horribly misleading, by either saying a terrible product was great or vice versa. Online retailers will never replace brick and mortar shops, but Im sure it will take driving those shops to near extinction for that fact to become apparent. And Jason Hall, please do us all a favor and never speak again.

    • Jason Scott says:

      “please do us all a favor and never speak again” rude, inconsiderate, and poorly thought out argument”

      “People are not only outrageously selfish these days but absurdly short sighted as well”

      you are right, Only the showroomers are outrageously selfish. The shop owners operate solely out of the goodness of their hearts, Turning only a moderate profit.

      Do not get e wrong, I do support the LBS quite often. I understand why charge more, I understand paying 10-25% more at a brick and mortar ship. But DOUBLE? double just makes me feel violated.

  • Lew says:

    These businesses need to evolve. How about selling a wider range of products, or offer training on how to wrench? Sell more tools, in some cases reduce their range so they can match online prices? I just can’t see how the current model can survive.

  • Iowinos says:

    I have a buddy who purchased some new disc brakes online. He had an LBS cut the hoses and bleed/install the brakes. They have failed twice: air keeps getting into the lines and he loses his brakes…turns out the installation process at the LBS damaged the bleed nipples and air seeps in. The LBS has been terrible to him, but the online retailer has spent a lot of time with him troubleshooting the problem, and they are swapping out the brakes free of charge and shipping, even though the LBS broke them. I always thought buying online actually helped the LBS – most casual riders need help with installation and maintenance anyway – but again I keep coming up against poor LBS service.

    Seth – I’m right there with you. But the fact is, a market economy is built on the notion of consumers looking for the best value for their dollars, and producers/retailers finding ways to differentiate in a competitive environment. I’m not sure bike shops can compete with online retail for commodities like parts and accessories – I always figured a move to strict repair and maintenance might be the best fit – assuming LBSs can retain a focus on knowledge and customer service, which can be seriously lacking IMHO.

  • bryan says:

    I admit to buying some things on line, but they’re usually small parts or a tire that the LBS probably won’t make enough on anyway. And if I don’t have the knowledge or tools to install it myself I’ll have the lbs order and install it. There are some things more important than rock bottom price, who’s going to work on or warranty that part when something goes wrong? If all the lbs’ are gone who’s going to sponsor local races, festivals, and tools and swag for trailwork projects? The last bike I bought from the LBS they saved me over $600 and it was already marked down $200, plus all the benefits of a years worth of free maintenance and adjustments of needed. There’s nothing wrong with saving money, but small businesses like this are integral part of our local economy and they need us to survive.

  • rain says:

    There is no difference between purchasing online or at a retail store. Were all here on Earth and it’s all local. If you don’t or can’t get this already you might consider the reality of it. Personally I can’t afford to pay someone who’s stuck in a 1990 or earlier business model. The only future for what was the local Schwinn store in ’65 is to emphasize, specialize in and provide quality service on peoples bikes. Some people like to pay more for local or whatever and subsequently spend an inordinate amount of time involved with things other than bike maintenance. This is your new upscale market. The alternative is pushing $500 units onto walk in dozing consumers. Showrooming is therefore going to increase as “stuff” is increasingly obtained from more reasonably priced sources. Right now in 2013 those are European online retailers due to the currency situation. Whiny attitudes won’t change this. People buy stuff online or at Walmart.

  • matt says:

    I am sure The Angry Singlespeeder gladly takes free samples and takes things “for product review” from the manufacturers. Maybe he should go to LBS and buy them and then test them. He said he was a cheapskate, not me.

  • Joe says:

    “Showrooming” is a huge problem for nearly every retailer. Just look at Best Buy. Getting hammered by it. However, like it or not, internet shopping has dramatically changed the way we shop. And in my opinion for the better.
    Last year I decided it was time to upgrade to my “dream” bike (too bad the motor is still a fat-ass). My end result turned out to be a nice hybrid of internet shopping with free shipping and no sales tax (10% in my area). My LBS is a small, 2 man shop who really supports his business with service rather than new bike sales. So, during our discussions, he agreed to charge me the same price for the group as you’d find on-line, built a really nice set of wheels, and assembled the whole thing. He says he made a little money on the parts (he orders them in so he has no inventory carrying costs), and made money on the labor. I provided the frame/fork. IMHO, this hybrid model works really well. He’s built his business model on service (which is fairly priced), has a huge local following, and realizes he can’t rely on huge mark-ups in the business. Consumers are just too savvy. One click and 20 internet vendors will show the price. Its simple, adapt or die, but sure as hell don’t blame the consumer for the LBS’s dire straits. Its possible to compete as a small retailer, but they better learn a new model. Too long have there been too many LBS’s with poor selection, poor service, and high prices.
    I think consumers are expecting great service, fair prices, and reasonable quick delivery of parts. If they don’t take care of their customers, surely someone else will.

    Anyone else find it ironic that this website has links all over it to on-line shopping sources?

  • Rob says:

    Where I am all the independent bikes shops are gone. I bought from the same LBS for 25yrs. However, it recently close down. Yes it was suffering from internet sales but it was hammered by several department/chain store (DS) type bike shops opening around it. My LBS was becoming a service center for people dis satisfied with having bought bikes from the DS who could not provide any half decent workshop service, nor would/could they service older bikes (ehh, just buy a new one from us) and of course there were the people buying on line that then found out they could not install the items they purchased. My LBS was surviving doing this. Until the rent went up.

  • Bill says:

    The big question that nobody seems to be asking here is, “what do you do for a living?”
    lets see your business accept a discount that cuts you down to the wholesale cost of it and see how you feel. People always want others to take a hit for their cheap purchasing decisions, then want you to uphold their business model so they can live some seriously upscale lifestyle. It should go without say that if you want to thrive, you should make sure others can too. This whole race to the bottom is only going to bring us all down!

  • Bill says:

    So many of these thrifty shoppers are also the same people that dont feel the least bad about buying their cheap equipment online and when they have a problem take it to the local bike shop for warranty/service.

  • arkonbey says:

    I think something is getting lost in this debate.

    The workers and owners of LBSs are the guys and gals that you meet on your local trails and roads every riding day. They are riders just like you. You’ve probably met them, ridden with them, maybe even had a post-ride beer with them.

    You’re talking about saving a buck in this economy? Sure. Great. The owner of your average LBS isn’t driving his Tesla Roadster home to swim in Scrooge McDuck money bin every night after work. Though the discounts and pro-deals are sweet, the average wrench monkey makes much less than your average plumber and the sales folks make even less.

    Do the owners and executives of Performance ride? Likely. Are there riders on the board of Amazon? Stands to reason. But, they aren’t the ones riding and maintaining your local trails, riding your local roads, sagging your local centuries and advocating for your local cycling matters.

    Are there bad LBSs with poor customer service and terrible mechanics? Sure. I’ve been to some and have never gone back. Find another shop. There are some exceptional shops around the country and that’s a fact.

    Full disclosure: I’m assistant service manager at a large-ish LBS. I also have lots of retail customer service experience and work the floor when needed. We always strive to give the customer more than their money’s worth whether in service or sales.

  • picassomoon says:

    Actually rain, its becoming pretty well known that the price of internet retail and cheap/free shipping that is lightning fast is that warehouse workers have become the most abused and powerless blue collar workers in the nation. There’s plenty of articles about the temp workers who keep places like Amazon, NewEgg and all our favorite online cycling parts competitive. The drive to ship as fast as possible has resulted in terrible warehouse conditions and treatment and it is all motivated by online retail. If took “4-6 weeks” to ship mail order purchases like the old TV mail order offers no one would be choosing to buy online as much. When its a week or less and damn near free compared to paying freight in the pre internet world, people don’t mind waiting for shipping, especially when you remove the retail markups. So yes, you are doing more to support inhuman business practices. Google some articles, reporters have gone undercover to write about the slavish conditions in our warehouses throughout the US.

  • A says:

    I tend to do the opposite to what “schmuck” does. I look online and find the product with the specs I want and then try to find it locally. Unfortunately LBSs can’t stock everything and can’t be familiar with everything so more often than not I end up teaching about something that they don’t stock anyway. Then they can order it for me, but what’s the point when I could just have it shipped to my door?

  • Dad says:

    What a load of naive, myopic and quaint twaddle. Lovely idea. Utterly, utterly flawed. Things change. Bike shops will have to change and find ways to adapt and evolve to accommodate inevitable changes happening across the globe to all industries, not just theirs. And the author expects to somehow stem this global market shift by, well, asking people to be nice and make charitable donations to LBSs. Don’t get me wrong; I’d love it if things worked this way and Walmart had been kept out by people being nice to small local stores. But it doesn’t happen that way and, sadly, never will. Slightly more advanced thinking at a much bigger scale is needed to address this problem which is not only faced by LBSs.

  • PK says:

    here is a novel idea: how about LBS actually providing customer service, and expertise! Then I will gladly pay a premium to purchase product from them! Local Ski, Bike, and other sporting Goods retailers like to state that they provide expertise, and support the sport…95% of the time that is total BS. It isn’t about bro-brahhing….and hanging around the counter talking with the people that hang out. The concept is called customer service..talk to and help customers. Absolutely no excuse for the guy in your example to be trying on high end shoes alone….if an employee was there providing advice and fitting(isn’t that expertise what justifies the $$ difference) the “customer” would not have gone online for a price comparison….or…at a minimum the employee would have had the opportunity to engage the customer and make the sale….
    plain and simple…a shop that leaves a customer alone to try on shoes didn’t deserve to make that sale!

  • Dave says:

    Like another guy said, most of the online retailers I buy from are bike shops that have an online retail site. If the local shops can’t or won’t adjust their pricing to match, let them go belly up. Somebody with a clue will replace them eventually.

    And Kurt, adding “tard” to words sounds like thinly concealed hate speech.against people with cognitive disabilities. Do you really want to be that kind of asshole?

  • David says:

    I bet if you saved $5000. on a car by going for a test drive at one dealer, then buying on Carmax you wouldn’t feel the same way. Face it. The internet is here to stay. Deal with it. I do.

  • well... says:

    Never heard of the term before but I could see the appeal. I’m not sure where the bike shops typically make most of their money from but it would seem if they’ve reasonably distributed the costs of the B&M store over the products the price gap with online retailers should be fairly minor. I’m generally satisfied with my local shops but there have been several times when they either did not have something available at all, had it ‘overpriced’ quite a bit or sold product of worse quality for same money I could get a better product online for. In summary, having local guys is great but if 25-50% can be saved online there is something wrong…and I’d definitely “showroom” that store.

  • Jesse101 says:

    yea sure…amazon has certain incentives, free shipping and so on. I personally have purchased a bike from a bike shop, well maybe one, cause i personally like to build my own bikes from what i can. HOWEVER, i do support my local bike shop as much as i can. Whenever friends ask me what bike they should buy, we walk over to the local bike shop..reason why? cause the support…you cannot beat the walk in support, even if the said buyer paid 150 dollars more than what they could have paid through places like amazon. When their bike needs an adjustment, a problem, parts to go on that ride the same day..amazon or online mom and pop shops CANT do that! you burn the local bike shop community, and we all get burnt one way or another. I always treat bike shop employees with respect, the same respect as what i would like to be treated. I now frequent the shop, and even paid them to help me rebuild my fork..they showed me how, which was awesome. Also when i needed some stans tape, i didnt want to wait 3 days for shipping, instead i brought it locally and paid the extra 3 bucks as what i would have through amazon. They also gave me a GREAT deal on my dropper seatpost..better than anything online, i was stoked.

    Now i will say every now and then i like to save money, but i will always give my local shop a first, if they cant get it, then i will search online. all i know the biking community in my area is successful simply because of the shop in town. see how well it will be without it!

    Jesse

  • JB says:

    The retail outlets for all products hastened the decline of American made goods by not promoting them or caring about where they were made. Now the other shoe has dropped and the consumer doesn’t care about which vendor sells these goods. At least the LBS business has a service component so it has some chance of survival. Personally, I’d like to be able buy a Turner or a Ventana or an Intense frame direct from the factory without the LBS mark up. Let’s worry about the people who make the stuff getting paid first, then maybe we can afford the luxury of an old fashioned retail experience.

  • picassomoon says:

    Manufacturing had long been offshored before internet retail. Its not Amazon’s fault that the stuff isn’t made here, you could probably blame like WalMart a lot easier.

    Jesse makes an interesting point. When someone who doesn’t know how to wrench or what to buy yet asks me I’ll send them to local shops every time. I sure wouldn’t tell them to go sorting through a mega site for parts or to BD when they really have little idea what they are looking at or what they want. With experience comes the independence from the LBS though for most all of us. And how can we be blamed for that? I want control over and knowledge of my bikes, not to be a slave to them. Especially if I’m 20 miles into some remote state park and my chain breaks. Buying online seems a no brainer when you are already doing your own wrenching.

  • Franco says:

    I cannot agree witht he author on this. Like others have said if the local bike shop cannot provide good customer service or willing to come down in price. Then the heck with them. I do not good to one local shop since they act like many others point out you should be honor just to walk thru their down and buy at high prices.

    Of course the other problem is the vendors again if they can give low pricing to online vendors then they should give it to the bikeshop too!!! It seems that for example in pricing tv’s the plan is now to make all bm stores keep pricing at the same level for all. What happens is that stores can not offer independent pricing like they did before.

  • Tom says:

    Dude, while i admire your knack for generating a large amount of click revenue, your rants are becoming painfully forulaic… Invent a situation with a character we all can hate… Come down righteously on the populist side of a topic garnered from countless biker forums across the web,.. Watch the hits as people tangle for the umpteenth time about strava, support your local bike shops, dont ride wet trails, spandex or baggies, pussy paths and trail braiding, etc. etc. please try to come up with something more original that hasnt been tossed around the bike forums for years.

    • Rob says:

      Fox News Murdoch owns the WSJ now, so you can’t trust commentary in the paper anymore. If showrooming was dead, then Amazon’s sales would be falling off: haven’t heard that yet.
      Also, BBY stock increased this year due to its closing something like 500+ stores, so it’s obvious that pronouncing the death of showrooming was irresponsible. Actually, it’s the death of the WSJ.
      The important thing is to slap one of the “immediate gratification generation”, the kind with smart-phone sunburn, straight upside their heads, and explain that America will turn in to a giant nail salon economy if they don’t shop responsibly.
      Likely they don’t understand shipping costs more than sales tax.

  • Mike Moore says:

    I’ve had many conversations with my “go to guy” at my LBS. He fully acknowledges he can’t touch some of the online retailers prices (as a retailer/small business owner in another sector, I fully understand). But what he does offer, to me, FAR outweighs the usually minimal price differences…bad ass customer service. He stands behind whatever he sells, and is quick to point out the differences between hype/marketing and reality. Take care of your customers and they’ll take care of you. In this “click it and get it” world, that seems to be a dying philosophy.

    Hurray for the Mom & Pop stores of all kinds!

  • TODWIL says:

    What most of you are forgeting is that showroomin’ can happen in every industry so this mentallity can effect your economic standing as well. Just remeber if everyone did it what once was 3 blocks away and open most days would now be 3 days away on the brown truck and maybe damaged and wrong!

  • Osisbs says:

    Life is about friends, experiences, and buying a bike that fits and is not going to let you down. If you can get that online, have at it. Or, you can form lifelong relations with my shop, my other customers, and tap my learning curve. Up to you. Who knows, I may even have a Gios in your size in the back room!

  • MMitchell says:

    I really don’t feel bad about Showrooming. I buy some from my local shop and some online. We have 5 bike shops where I live and I only buy from one now. Becuase the others seem to not have a clue half the time. Some kid who knows nothing about bikes tries to sell you road bike items for your MTB. The one that I shop at I don’t showroom the other I do. The one I shop at has great people in it that know what they are talking about. I will pay for their service. So Showroom or don’t it is really not your call to say it is right or wrong.

  • Shawn McAfee says:

    I don’t work in a bike shop, never have and may never in the future. But this is something that really irks me as a supporter of the industry overall. Online shops are wonderful and can save the consumer money, but what are these online retailers doing to help promote local events, trail maintenance or supporting the customer after a purchase.

  • Chris M says:

    I’ve tried buying my bikes and parts at local shops but most times the cost is at or above MSRP – that’s if what I want is stocked. Many shops in my area are sub par and you can’t trust their service or ethics. Many other shops are on their game and beleive they are gods that can charge a premium without question. In the end I’ve learned to work on my own bikes extensively – it’s not that hard or complex. If I need to try out a high dollar frame or parts, most manufacturers have demo days. Otherwise, I’ll take a chance on low dollar items online and return them if they don’t work out.

    It’s never worked out that the extra cost I have to pay at the LBS is outweighed by the service I get. So, I just don’t even go to bike stores any longer. The world is always changing and maybe the death of the LBS just part of the evolution for bicycling.

  • Jokermtb says:

    That hobby items are so arbitrarily priced, and often stupid expensive, leads to consumers to taking Machiavellian steps in the marketplace. Blaming the end user/buyer is a cheap shot.

  • Harry Devlin says:

    Fry’s Electronics has a big sign hanging on the building that states “We Meet Internet Prices” and they do. It helps stop showrooming. Other than bicycles, items in bike shops have very large mark-ups and the bike shop could stop showrooming if they really wanted to do so,

  • Bob says:

    This is an ongoing and increasing issue. It goes beyond the bike industry and unfortunately is very common in the snow sports business as well. I have actually had “customers” go to their phones while I have been working with them on a boot fit. Average time for a boot fit in out shop is 45 minutes. We devised a plan; we have a little device that we can turn on that blocks cell signals within the sales area. By the way our retail prices are at MAP which is pretty much what people find on the net or brick and mortar competitors. This is true for bikes, skis, and accessories.

  • Leslie says:

    Its not the price of the shoes-its the 60 minutes the retail clerk spent hauling shoes out, letting you try them on so that you can find which brand and model feels best.

    The price differences between the internet and retail are being corrected as we speak. Distributors and manufacturers want the retailer to help them deal with individual customers. Why? Its very time consuming to deal on the micro level of explaining products one on one, showing the products, handling returns, dealing with grifters, shoplifters, specing parts to each individual bike without seeing the bike. Trying to fit a foot to a shoe without being able to see the foot? Come on, I can tell what shoe is likely to fit you as soon as I see your foot. I look at foot volume, shape and length of your toes, width. Then I mount your cleats for free, in the right spot and adjusted for pronation. If I get it wrong, you come back and I make micro adjustments until its perfect. All for free!

    There is always some poor soul on the internet selling grey market goods, stolen products, and counterfeits. Everyday we have someone come in to the shop asking for help with an internet product they purchased that is missing parts, has manufacturing defects, is the wrong product for your intended use, the shoes don’t fit, because you photo’d the UK size of the shoe. We can help. Be prepared to spend some money for the solution.

    It all works out in the end, buy cheap on the internet, spend more on the back end getting help from the LBS. And no, we don’t warranty used goods, stolen goods, internet purchases and grey market items.

  • Jason Holts says:

    If I owned a bike shop, I’d rather people come in to showroom than not come in at all. They aren’t costing me anything, and who knows, they might decide to buy something. The fact is bike shops are horribly overpriced compared to online merchants. If they can’t compete with their online competition, so be it. I won’t miss local bike shops. To me, a box delivered straight to my door is better “personalized service” than I’ve ever gotten at a bike shop.

  • Mike says:

    ASS: I’d be curious to hear your thoughts about LBS’s that have online sales operations as well (for example – bikesale.com) – what is stopping other LBS’s from doing the same thing?

  • erikblank says:

    It’s funny to read all the comments here. MTBR is here because, about a third of their advertising is the low ball internet sites many say are killing off LBS’s. Maybe the right thing to do is stop visiting MTBR’s site until they drop these advertisers. And for all you LBS owners know your customers. Most are cheap or poor. I don’t know which, but I do know the things I’ve seen. Like guys who will pack into a shuttle like sardines, instead of paying $5 more to ride a half empty shuttle, for an hour up the hill. Guys that will go bathe in the river, in the middle of town, so they don’t have to pony up the $1.50 to take a shower at the gas station a 100 feet away. Guys that bring their own supplies, so they don’t have to pay $10 for a burger, $18 for a 12 pack of beer or $5 a gallon for gas. Without the other businesses, there would be no town to have a LBS. If these are the the people you are relying on to keep you in business, you better close up shop now. Your customer base is the guy who comes in looking to buy that $10,000 downhill bike that he read so much about. The one you had to explain how they would be much happier with a $3000 cross country bike. The mother, who you replaced the tube in her childs bike for just the cost of the tube. The person that bought their bike online, that you told the bike was not the problem, it just needed a different seat post and a few adjustments. People like these are the customers that keep coming back. My point is, there is room in the market place for both of you. Your both setup for a different customer base. So work to your strengths and market what you can do for me, not whine about how you can’t compete. If you really think about it, the internet has to be cheep, because they can’t compete with you.
    Just my $,02.

    • Mark says:

      This is probably the best and most accurate reply of this whole thread! You guys that bash the brick and morter LBS and call them a dying breed are thankfully NOT my customer base. Keep on keepin’ on ’cause I’m thriving in my business just fine.

  • dan says:

    I live in Denver and all the LBSs I visit are worthless. Overpriced components, underknowledged kids. I wrench my own bikes and buy stuff cheaper online.

  • Jimmyz says:

    Interesting debate here. As a consumer I try to play fair. I patronize my LBS as much as I can, but I buy most items pre-owned if I can. Don’t call me a cheapskate for trying to have as much fun as I can for the money that I earn.

    As for showrooming, don’t blame the consumer – the manufacturer is actually the one doing the disservice to the LBS. Retailers with an actual showroom should demand better pricing from their distributors and from the manufacturer.

  • Troy says:

    I researched mountain bikes for 2 weeks on the net and then went to two local LBS with intentions on buying from them if there price is within reason. I asked each sales person what bike would be best. Not too cheap so I would have to upgrade soon but not so expensive that it would be way above my skill level. Both sales people knew less about the bikes then I did. I notice the trek had 32mm forks vs specialized 28mm and mentioned that was a good thing. She said yea the forks are farther apart. She thought 32mm was the distance between the 2 fork legs. The other sales person handed me the specialized book so I could see what the different models offered. Sad part was they only sold Specialized.

    I bought a bike off of the internet a week later. I do not mind paying a premium for value add but if you know nothing about your trade you do not deserve a premium.

  • Redman9605 says:

    I am now dumber for having read some of these posts. One thing I have learned in life is never tell anyone how/what/where to spend their money.

  • Andy Olsen says:

    Hey….bike shops have been gouging people for years. The internet has just made honest men out of them. However the basis and assumptions of this are way out of alignment here. it said the guy saw them on amazon….well amazon is nothing more than a portal with independent merchants. Most of what you find are going to be other bike shops selling their inventory online. It’s that local bike shops fault that is to blame if he does not get in on the possible sale to compete with others who are simply ahead of him. This is a new way of buying online and it will only grow. The local guy’s complaint should be at the other local guy across country that is selling cheaper than him where more people are viewing in 10 seconds than come into his store in a month. Those that do not sell online will eventually be gone. The only way to fight this is collusion among the owners. But already will not work as someone is selling a pair of shoes @ 75 bucks less. If the bike shop is pissed off at someone coming into a store and showrooming, that shop owner needs to be proactive. Sell online himself, compete with the online price, or complain to the distributor about the margin difference and hope they get after the merchant on the price point. Sorry but no sympathy!!!

  • Nathan Miller says:

    I fully support my local bike shop, and gladly pay full price for their labor. Presently, I am in the market for a new wheel set, so I stopped in to see what was available. I found what I wanted, but just have a hard time paying 100.00 more for a wheel set that they get shipped in complete and display on the shelf. If the shop built it, I would gladly pay for their service, but to charge that much more, plus tax, it is just too much.
    I also visited my local Alfred E Bike shop, and they wanted me to visit their website and purchase directly from there. So maybe times are a changing…

  • Darwin says:

    Is not an LBS a business? Some of the posts here read as if the LBS is a charity that deserves some special accommodation. But like any other business they need to develop one or more competitive advantages to thrive…and from what I’ve seen most of them fail in this aspect. I get it…no doubt many owners started their business as a labor of love and may not have had the business skills needed going in…but instead of demonizing the customers who look for extra value over online retailers — whether that be a deal, a high level of service, or simply, respect — learn how to win and keep the customer’s business.

    There are many different types of customers — the guy who pays full retail at the LBS for everything, the guy who can’t pay full retail all of the time, and the guy who for whatever reason is only going to buy at discount…but learning how to connect with and build a long-term relationship with the last two is what’s going to lift your business from average to great.

    The customer is king. The customer is king. The customer is king.

  • JK says:

    Small business brick and mortar is on its death bed. The LBS is probably the best example. Furthermore, “showrooming” isn’t even necessary given the ease of returning products purchased online. Regardless, the LBS loses the sale anyways which is really the issue at hand as the customer either “showrooms” and purchases online or simply avoids the LBS all together, and purchases online. The loss of a sale and how to overcome that is what should be relevant here but alas its not, instead the focus is on consumers acting unfairly?! Unbelievable.

    It’s obvious, online shopping offers much better pricing plus no sales tax, INFINITELY better selection, availability to product reviews, ease of return, no hassle of dealing with retail/service staff (some good, some really bad experiences), GOOD customer service, the pure joy of opening a box full of goodies shipped to your doorstep, etc. etc.

    Until traditional small business brick and mortar INNOVATES (wow, there’s a concept) and overcomes the many benefits of shopping online then it dies and rightfully so as there is nothing more pathetic than refusal to adapt to the market and then whine when consumers wisely shop elsewhere.

  • MIke says:

    I agree with this sentiment, and spend plenty of cash at the local shop, I also purchase things online. What bothers me is when a shop only carries a few parts and trinkets, and a bunch of apparel and complete bikes. I go in, looking for something, not all that specific. When I ask about them, shop guy says “No, we don’t have that, but we can order you one”. “Well alright, how much will it be?” I ask. “$400″, which if well over any price that I can find online, oh, and they’ll charge me shipping (and tax of course), and if I decide against it? “No returns on special orders”. So as a consumer, this sucks. You tell me that I should support my LBS, not buy online, while you will order the part online at full pop for me, like I don’t know how to use the internet, then you charge a premium, and not even give me the return option that most online retailers offer! All because you don’t bother to carry the part in the first place! Bike shops are broken and archaic forms of retail.

  • Peter says:

    Doing your own wrenching is being a cheapskate? Wow… last time I got my bike serviced at the local bike shop, my handlebars rotated downward on the first climb I got to, the seatpost got scuffed from the clamps that are not great for carbon seatposts and I was charged an arm and a leg for the pleasure, not to mention the joy I get from having difficult conversations with LBS owners and having to drive back and forth to a shop to get done what is a simple task with the right tools.

    Sure, I agree to ‘showroom’ the store without asking the best price they can do on a product is not worlds best practice, but spending 50-100% more than you can online for the same product? Charity starts at home… you didn’t suggest the store owner to start a bike shop, nor is it your responsibility to support his lifestyle.

  • Shnozz says:

    I’m an internet Junky. Everything I buy I build myself, computers, framing, electrical wiring for my house, etc. But I was uncomfortable with reviews online. I went to my LBS, spoke with a guy who was short and to the point, and pointed me toward a Giant Trance 3. I didn’t feel very comfortable with how quickly he jumped to that bike without asking further questions. He also jumped at the chance to trash a bike I told him I was also thinking about (Kona Coilair). So I left and went to a different bike shop. They sold Specialized and pointed me to a bike in a similar range as the Trance. I went online here and asked around, everyone agreed the Trance was my best fit.

    I went back to the LBS and got a more talkative sales rep who made me feel extra comfortable. (I ran into many problems in purchasing my bike there, long story short, they stayed late 45 minutes fixing the situation). Turns out the original employee is the store manager. He pointed me to what worked for me, straight and to the point, and after investigating everything he said was correct. Markup or not (they sold me my bike at 20% off of MSRP) they have earned my business and I will go back.

  • Tornado says:

    I call it the Walmart mentality service means nothing. Go buy your Schwinn from Walmart and go be awesome!

  • AndrewC says:

    Look, all the people complaining about their LBS being snobs with terrible customer service, bad mechanics and prices double MSRP are engaging in strawman arguments. No one is saying you have to patronize those places. Find a great LBS, there are many out there and they will work with you on prices. Or buy online. Just don’t showroom at your LBS. Simple.

  • Tim says:

    Sounds like the manufacturers are creating the problem……

  • Catmando says:

    Like some of the other posters I too tend to do the opposite as the so called “smuck”. Particularly when it comes to shoes and bike clothing. I shop on line to see what’s available and to see what caters to my liking. Then I go out to the LBS or major Bike or Outdoor retailers and see if I can find something similar and within my price range that also fits.
    I never order clothes or shoes on-line anymore because if you can’t try something on to check the fit you might end up having to send the item back and that is something I’m not willing to mess with. I’ve had very good luck with REI which tends to give you the best of both worlds. Showroom and internet sales. Example; I spotted a pair of Pearl Izumi MTB shoes on their website that I liked and then went to the local store to buy or try them on. Turned out they had the shoes but not in my size. I was able to go online to REI’s website and buy two difference sizes ( being not sure which would fit best ). REI shipped the shoes directly to the store ( without cost ). I then went in , tried the shoes on, kept the ones I wanted and got credit back for the ones that didn’t fit. All in all, I’m a very satisfied customer. This said I spread the love around and shop at the small LBS’s as well. If the LBS has what I want I buy it as long as the price is within reason.

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