Supporting My Local Bike Shop

I am probably guiltier than most when it comes to buying bike stuff online. I bought most of my upgrades that way last year then had the gall to ask my LBS to put them all together on the bike. They did it with a smile and not even the hint of a sideways glance (in my defense, I had spent lots there, too. Just not real big-ticket items).

I don’t mind buying books from Amazon, mainly because I live in a small French city with no English bookshops. I buy jeans online, and don’t usually feel the guilt till I read about the 12 yr old in Bangladesh who probably made them (but that’s not an internet problem, I guess).

In my town here in France we really only have one bike shop left. VeloLand just closed down last month, which leaves my LBS, Cycles Passieu, the last of a hopefully-not-dying breed. This place specializes in high-end gear and bikes and has a loyal following of old men with good pensions. Alain Prost buys all his bikes here and I’ve heard that there are a few others who come from far and wide to buy their toys.

I don’t know what’s so special about my bike shop. They are a great bunch of guys and they always make time for my stupid questions. That helps. I don’t know if they are more informative than Google or whether they’d do back flips to keep a customer (I am not very demanding), but I do know this – they are the last bike shop in Nîmes.

I think we could all live without a Gap or WH Smith in town. But how the hell will we get rid of that clicking sound ‘down there’ if the LBS is gone!? I shudder to think about it.

It is for this reason that I bought my Garmins from David the other day. He gets my Colnago cash, too, whenever I get it myself. Giving money to him might (but might not – see below) hurt a little more in the beginning, but the savings in future pain is probably priceless.

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Postscript: I actually got the Vector for €50 under the recommended price put out by Garmin. That was a weird surprise.

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12 thoughts on “Supporting My Local Bike Shop

  1. I think bringing one’s custom to an LBS pays back in dividends that are slightly more difficult to quantify, such as getting immediate attention on a niggling problem, often at no charge, just to cite one example. Of course, if the people at the LBS are a sour bunch, then it’s a different matter…

    • That’s a good point. I know one rider who says he gets better support from his online supplier (when buying gear) than from the LBS. Luckily I don’t have that complaint.

      • Many online shops have a no fuss return/exchange policy so I can imagine that some LBS may fall short in some instances. I think that both types need to earn custom. I buy stuff online as well as from local bike shops, but if the LBS is unpleasant to deal with, I move on…

  2. A few years back I bought all my components on line and put my bike together. It was an interesting project and fairly easy to do and I enjoyed it. Currently I am getting the new Bianchi Infinito CV with Shimano 6800 DI2……and yes my LBS is supplying it and is going to put it all together. Electronic stuff is not my thing and should it all go wrong I will just take it back 🙂

  3. The Internet has changed just about everything we do in our day-to-day lives; when was the last time you went to your local bank teller to do your basic banking? I remember when ATM’s first came out in the early 80’s and the concern the industry had when many tellers were displaced by machines that offered a better service. Why would we think the Internet won’t affect the cycling industry too? There comes a point when paying the multiple layers of mark up through the traditional bike store channel that just doesn’t justify the value-add our LBS offers. For example, a set of Michelin Pro 4 tires I recently purchased from Wiggle on-line cost me $34 CDN (shipping included to Canada), and the exact same tire at my LBS was $78. And that’s just one example. For the LBS to survive, they will have to change their business model, and stop making consumers feel like “scabs” crossing a union picket line when they come in with something they purchased on-line for service. The world of on-line buying is here to stay, so this is very Darwinian; either the LBS embrace the changing world by offering services that aren’t available through the internet, like bike assembly and maintenance, bike fitting, coaching, guided training rides, coffee shop (like “Look Mom No Hands” in London, or TCR in my city of Calgary), or they too will become extinct. During this transition period I suggest we brush up on our mechanical skills, because we may find ourselves living in an area that doesn’t have an LBS,

    • The harsh reality of the real world. Well said.

      The prices at my LBS are nearly always higher than what I find online, so it was a pleasant surprise to find the Vector for a bit less. I do hope they stick around because even though I’m a ‘certified mechanic’ I still run to them crying with I get that ‘clunk down there.’

  4. Gerry, I feel the same way. I bought my Giant commuter bike from LBS, headlight that cost more than twice my first bike and other misc accessories. He know my bike and had to have noticed fenders, rack and rear taillight provided by others. The best part is the shop’s location; mile 12 on my homeword commute where I regularly stop to use relieve bladder pressure…

  5. I try and support the local guy as well whenever I can. I did, I admit, recently buy some Rapha bib shorts online, only because none of the local guys around me carried Rapha. I didn’t feel overly badly about it as all my bikes and gadgets aside from that have been through them. Where I feel the most guilt has been taking away the servicing revenues from them. Over the years I have become more proficient at looking after my bikes, and so it is rare I need to take them in for anything. But I suppose I should be proud of that!

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