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Confusing Terminology - LBS, Mail Order, Internet, etc.(3 posts)

Confusing Terminology - LBS, Mail Order, Internet, etc.Fez
Aug 30, 2003 6:28 AM
I may be grossly generalizing, but the recent posts seem to make some assumptions. Maybe it isn't as cut and dry as one may think. I don't see it as a David vs. Goliath scenario (small LBS vs. huge corporate chains). A few thoughts:

1) What exactly is an LBS? Is it by definition a small operation? One that an owner actually shows his face and works in the day to day operations? Is it one that is conveniently located? For many, a larger bike store IS the local bike shop.

Furthermore, there are larger, multioutlet, but still local bike chains that are larger than a mom & pop shop, but nowhere near the size of a Performance or REI. Where do we draw the line? Are we to only have empathy for the true little guy with small pockets?

2) Mail Order/Internet - Does it ever occur that many of these mail order and internet companies are even smaller operations than your small local bike shop? Other than Performance or Supergo or CC, most of the other internet retailers are probably pretty modest in size, possibly operating out of an industrial park or even someone's house. Since they don't have to pay for expensive retail store space, they are still able to sell parts for pretty cheap. Also, some of the stuff they sell may be grey market, but that's another topic altogether.

And that small local bike shop probably is selling parts on the internet as well. Maybe they have a different pricing structure for parts being sold online vs. walk-in customers. The LBS is known to change and adapt with the times.

As consumers, I don't think we need to know how well funded our local bike shop is as to whether we will give them our business. Do you agonize over these same details when you buy furniture, electronics, appliances, a new car, clothes, etc.? How about when you go to the drugstore or grocery? Why should bikes be any different?

Don't think too much. Go to whatever place offers the best combination of what's important to YOU. Value, convenience, customer service, whatever...

And remember, even though the customer may always be right, try not to be a jerk when you are a consumer.
Your right, I don't agonize over this with other products!TNRyder
Aug 30, 2003 8:41 AM
Mainly because I am not passionate about furniture, electronics, appliances, and or groceries. If I was, I am sure that I would be shopping @ some local place that sold only high end stuff in those catagories as well. I am passionate about bikes though! And I don't even agonize over it then. I shop where I feel like I am getting value for my $$. Sometimes that value can be something as simple as having the assurance that the part I am buying is what I really need and will actully fit on my bike. It sucks having to send some mail order part back because the "sales rep" could not help you determine the correct size clamp for your frame. Sure, they were pleseant about the whole exchange thing and got the replacement part out within a week and a half. But that was a week and a half that I was without my bike while waiting on the part.

Comes down to this.

If I need the part to replace something broken, the LBS has my business as long as they are within reason compared to the mailorder price.

If I am getting something for an upgrade, they have a shot too. If they can get close to what I would pay mailorder. I am more willing to go mailorder in these cases as I know that if there is a problem I will still have a bike to ride in the meantime.

All of this is not as much of an issue now as I have 4 bikes and my wife is trying to get me to thin the herd. :{
Ouside of commodities, I agonize over everythingterry b
Aug 30, 2003 10:33 AM
food, clothing, drugs, gasoline - no.
electronics, bikes, bike stuff, optics, computer stuff - yes.

actually not agonize, but I do shop (online)like crazy and rattle the options around in my head for (what seems like) a long time before I spring. Then I never look back.