one cyclist's adventures through the urban jungle

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ride Locally. Shop Glob...Locally?

An interesting set of articles and opinions regarding shopping at your LBS vs Online Retailers are popping up on the blogosphere at the moment. The argument has been had or will be had in every industry buy it online for cheap or locally for more, but (hopefully) get better service. Its a tough choice to make as a consumer - but, then again, why should it be hard for consumer?

I spread my bike related dollars out to some degree. Local shops get the majority of my money - I can walk in, they remember my name, know what I like, give me trustworthy advice and don't BS me. I'm lucky that there are plenty of LBSs in Vancouver and that I've found one (plus a few backups) that I can count on for goods.

I've bought some things online too. Generally I have researched the bejeepers out of said part online and found a good deal or some other perk that makes it make complete sense to buy from the Interwebs. I've yet to go to a physical shop, ask a pile of questions about doohickey X (and or Y) and then go buy it online. If I thought I was getting screwed on price at LBS, I'd see what wiggle room there was, but I wouldn't appreciate being kicked in the junk like that if I were the LBS. Sometimes buying things from the US, as a Canadian gives you the benefit of a favorable exchange or the ability to take advantage of lower prices due to better distributor pricing.

In Canada there exists a not-to-be-named group of active, outdoor stores that sell some cycling related gear. Tools, consumable type parts, clothing etc. I buy from them too, at least some bits anyways. Over the years they've made more things available to their members/customers, probably because they kept getting requests for more parts. Because of their size and business model the stores have some items for prices that I am sure are below wholesale cost to most shops. I don't go their for advice or for maintenance, but I'll go grab a few things that I don't need to be sold to me and continue on my way.

So-called brick and mortar stores of all types have a lot of hard work ahead of them - haven't they always? Be savvy, but try to get comfortable with some local shops. Chances are you need them more than your other options than you may realize. At the same time, appreciate that you have several choices. There is a balance to be had with relationships and value. The cost of something can be more than just the price.