Now is the time of year all those who’ve purchased from big bike retailers online will be getting a pile of emails every day, with news about January sales, massive savings, stock clearances etc, etc. I expect this is most of us, most of us have also tried to stop these emails, but it usually appears impossible to cancel your ‘subscription’ to the mails. An annoying but sometimes intriguing invitation to find some shiny bike bits you didn’t really want but at bargain prices (if somebody really did want them, they’d likely not be at those bargain prices). Drawing you into a slick marketing campaign, the bargains appear first, then pictures appear of other things you may like (based on your previous purchases or recent google searches, this isn’t accidental). Those other shiny bits you desire don’t have anything like the reductions you first saw, but you want those parts, you’re hooked and their plan has worked.
But spare a thought for your local bike shop at this time, they’re also trying to shift stock, without the money or audience to launch a slick marketing campaign, there’s nobody in the background when you walk in raising signs with components you might like, at massively reduced prices. They also don’t have the huge buying power that allows them to purchase bikes & components at super low prices (grey imports rear their heads here too), they don’t send you an email every day to try and part you with your hard earned money, in fact, if you’re a regular, it’s more than likely you’ll have a cup of tea put in your hand, maybe something’s not working properly and they’ll stick your bike on the stand to have a quick look at it for you. All part of the service, no pressure sales, real people selling products at sustainable prices, doing the best they can.
This is the reality of the modern day bike industry, small local bike shops dotted about the countryside, providing good knowledgable service, free information & advice on products, likely supporting your local bike club, offering discounts to loyal customers, this in stark contrast to a multinational online warehouse retailer with no after sales service, not even a phone number you can contact if you have a problem. We’ve all bought from the warehouse bike retailers, it’s essentially the same products, a bit cheaper, but as with a dying high street, where would you be without a bike shop you can go to for an emergency repair, a broken spoke etc. That’s essentially what you’re paying a little bit extra for, making sure that bike shop keeps paying the bills, keeps employing the staff (those guys that help you out when pay a visit, maybe slag you a bit too) and allows the owner to make a living, without those requirements nobody is going to run a bike shop, or any business, just to give you a convenient place to get your bike fixed.
So just a thought, support the local bike shops that provide the service you like, don’t support those that don’t, check with them before you make a big purchase, or any purchase, you might be surprised at what they can do for you. But don’t expect them to match exactly what your online warehouse is charging, you may get a ‘sigh’ and a blank stare, these guys are up against it every hour of every day, people telling them they can get this & that for this price here & there. You need your local bike shop & it needs you.
p.s. I don’t work for or in a local bike shop, I just like local bike shops, not just one, but all the good ones, they’re everywhere, try one.