Guitar Ted rants a little about bike shops that still don't get that the winning proposition of the Local Bike Shop is not everyday low prices but excellent service.
With pressure from online vendors and even Wal-Mart apparently entering the high-end bike market, there's more pressure than ever for the local bike shop to compete effectively. Unfortunately, stories of intimidating visits to bike shops with smarmy employees and patronizing sales personnel still seem to outnumber the "I had a great experience!" experiences.
I've been fortunate enough to visit some great bike shops with outstanding and helpful people. When I visit a new shop, though, the help I get is usually indifferent if I can get any attention at all. I'm a knowledgeable consumer, so I can imagine the neophyte will be completely intimidated.
I'll close by quoting G-Ted: "I think a lot of folks need to wake up to the reality that it's more about the service and relationship with the customer and a lot less about the prices. If that happens in your bike shop, I know that a lot of people will buy items from a shop like that even if the prices are a bit higher because they are getting something else money can not buy." Read more of his rant here.
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We in the Twin Cities have an outstanding collection of LBSs and only two (*cough* Eric's *cough* PennCycle *cough*) really put the screws to you. Funny -- they're the two multi-store shops in the Cities. I've spent a few hours repairing "fixes" by the wrenches in these stores for friends and neighbors. And I'm not what you would call a great bike mechanic.
I agree. The bike shop I go to doesn't have the best prices. They're a small chain with three stores in the area. Locally owned, they're in tough competition with a huge super mega-store that's a nationwide chain with huge stock and a snazzy-looking service desk.
At the end of the day, though, my little shop, although the bikes cost a little more, but they give you more for the money. When you buy from them, you get lifetime free labor and discounts on all parts and accessories. They're also a little easier to convince into giving you emergency service with the help of a little bit of beer ;)