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Friday, April 10, 2009
  taking bicycles a bit too seriously
By Alison Chaiken 
Courtesy of ValleyWag:

Cisco Exec Makes Death Threat Over $4,000 Bike

Apparently enraged that his custom-built $4,000 Cervélo was a day late, Burton stormed into Cyclepath, a bike shop in Pleasanton, Calif., to get a final fitting. . . .


You can tell that the reporting isn't completely reliable: there's no way that a custom Cervélo could be had for $4000. Tip of the hat to Anh Tu.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007
  Tipping the wrench?
By Yokota Fritz 
I can relate to Fat Cyclist's experience in "strange" bike shops, how they make you feel like an idiot after asking a perfectly reasonable question.

As a loyal LBS customer, I've also had the odd transaction Fatty describes, where I paid *more* than the asking price on stuff. Somebody has to make the owner's boat payment, after all. You know that famous Karl Marx quote, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need"? Mike (the LBS owner) assures me he really needs the boat. I guess that makes me a pinko commie.

Something Fatty did not mention: I've actually had bike mechanics who refuse to accept tips from me. That's just weird. Is the practice of paying a gratuity now so rare in bike shops that mechanics don't know what they are? If you're a customer, do you tip your mechanic? If you're a mechanic, does anybody still tip?

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007
  Prices or service
By Yokota Fritz 
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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Tuesday, July 31, 2007
  Bike shop blues: It's too hard to buy a bike
By Yokota Fritz 
I found this in my "drafts" folder. The links are a few months old but I think the lessons for the Local Bike Shop are still valid. Is it still too difficult for the uninitiated to buy a bike? Or have things chnaged much since last year? Has Shimano's "Coasting" initiative done much to make things easier?

Trek makes it too hard to buy a bike. "Bicycle shops are notorious for being unfriendly places to the uninitiated. I am not one of those neophytes, but I once was. I recall going into shops where the "sales associates" were notably annoyed that they had been interrupted by a customer- especially one who doesn't know all that the omniscient staff members already do. It's about the same feeling you get going into a music store like Guitar Center."

Trek Makes it Hard to Buy a Bike Part 2. "The first thing you must know when you go to purchase a high-perf bike is that the people in the bike shop will treat you with about much interest as a call from a telemarketer at dinner time."

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Friday, March 09, 2007
  Santa Cruz: $250 discount for folding bicycles
By Yokota Fritz 
Santa Cruz County residents can receive a discount of up to $250 on folding bikes through the Santa Cruz Area Transportation Management Agency. The Santa Cruz Area TMA started the folding bike program yesterday to encourage area resident to ride the bus.

Although Santa Cruz Metro is equipping buses with 3-bike racks, cyclists often miss the bus because the racks are full and must wait for subsequent buses. Folding bicycles can be brought into the bus.

Santa Cruz County area residents are eligible for this program by attending a 2-hour bicycle safety training class. Call the Santa Cruz Area TMA 423-9569 ext. 127 to sign up for a class. Currently, the discount is available only at three Santa Cruz bike shops: the Spokesman (Dahon), Bicycle Trip (Giant), and Sprockets (Trek, Dahon, Breezer). A representative of the Santa Cruz TMA told me that other local bike shops in the county can contact the TMA for details on how to join the program.

The Santa Cruz TMA also offers instant rebates of up to $375 for electric bicycles. Like the folding bike program, purchasers must first attend a two hour bicycle safety class to become eligible for the rebate.

Gene has a good article about the folding bikes program.

Santa Cruz TMA: Folding Bikes Incentive Program

Santa Cruz Sentinel: County launches rebate program for folding bikes.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007
  Bike shop manager Bill Houghton
By Yokota Fritz 
In April 2003, Bruce McGrew opened Pro Cycling in Colorado Springs, Colorado. McGrew needed a manager, so he hired William Reeese Houghton to manage his store.

Houghton was an experienced bike store manager, starting at age 17 at online retailer Colorado Cyclist as a warehouse stocker. He worked his way up to become General Manager before leaving Colorado Cyclist in 2002.

In 2003, McGrew lost $400,000. He lost $280,000 in 2004 and $110,000 in 2005, so McGrew hired a consultant to figure out where the money was going.

It turns out Houghton was fired in 2002 from Colorado Cyclist for stealing from that store. At Pro Cycling, Houghton listed shop inventory on eBay, used the shop's FedEx account to ship the merchandise, and pocketed the revenue. Houghton stole $375,000 from McGrew, and made $147,605 in his venture.

"Bike theft suspect racking up charges." - January 28, 2006.

"Bike shop thief aggrees to deal." - February 14, 2007.

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