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How much is loyalty to an LBS worth to you ?(30 posts)

How much is loyalty to an LBS worth to you ?HouseMoney
Nov 21, 2003 11:44 AM
Here's a ... ahem ... hypothetical. You normally buy most things at your favorite LBS, even if/though you could save money by going mail order. You don't mind paying a 'little' more since you appreciate the service and know he has to keep his lights on.

The LBS gives you a rough price of ~$750-775 for an item you're looking to buy (installation not required), and says there's a tight margin so you may not be able to get the 10% shop discount you usually get. You find out you can buy the same item mail order at several outlets for betw/ $650-680. (LBS sales tax & m.o. shipping basically cancel each other out.)

Do you have a certain mark-up where loyalty goes out the window? It's an on-the-bike item, so the shop'll know if you bought elsewhere. FWIW, in this example, I think I'd still patronize the LBS.
If the margins that tight then they aren't makingandy02
Nov 21, 2003 11:47 AM
money on it anyway
online for me, i have no loyalty to any place... nmafrican
Nov 21, 2003 11:55 AM
To me, loyalty is everythingkevinacohn
Nov 21, 2003 11:57 AM
I buy almost everything from my LBS - new bikes, new parts, shoes, components, helmets, etc. etc. I do this partly because they give me very, very good prices, but mostly because they've always been there for me and have never disappointed.

The only thing I don't get through my LBS is clothing. For the most part, I order directly from Pearl Izumi or Performance for that stuff. They know and don't blame me... it's hard to stock clothing.

Oh yeah, and my Giro Helmet Pod. I got that from Performance.

In the case you described, I would definitely purchase from the LBS. Any problems with the purchase and they'd be all over it...
re: How much is loyalty to an LBS worth to you ?LIBoy
Nov 21, 2003 12:22 PM
Let's assume for the moment that you are talkng about, say, wheels. My LBS cost a few bucks more (Zipp 404's), but, they have trued them twice and both times for free. They did it during the summer "next day" when they were packed with repairs...priceless.
Wouldn't happen to be Ksyrium wheels, would it???biknben
Nov 21, 2003 12:25 PM
I'm just taking a guess but want to confirm my suspicions.

Your situation has you in a tough spot. You've already inquired about the item and gotten a price. There is no rule that says you can't get it elsewhere. Some guys may take offense to you haggling and then still going elsewhere. OTOH, the price difference is pretty significant. How can he blame you for buying elsewhere.

It really depends on the shop guy's attitude towards on-line retailers. Some have issues with on-line retailers and take it out on their customers. Others have the same problem but take it out on the distributors/manufacturers. It's difficult to blame a customer for buying at the lowest price for the same item.
Close, but no ...HouseMoney
Nov 21, 2003 1:01 PM
Campy Eurus
Nothing--don't really think of it that way.djg
Nov 21, 2003 12:27 PM
It's not that I won't pay extra to buy locally, it's just that I don't think of retail purchases here or there as demonstrations of loyalty or disloyalty. I haven't raced for quite some time, so there's no issue of shopping at the business that sponsors me.
re: How much is loyalty to an LBS worth to you ?kissthedemon
Nov 21, 2003 12:28 PM
I may be going way out on a limb here, but what the heck it's friday. I don't understand the whole "be loyal to your LBS" concept. Why should I be "loyal"? All they've ever done for me is take my money, and way too much of it at that. I don't buy the argument that they give you wonderful, helpful advice and knowledge which isn't available anywhere else. That's BS. They are a profit driven business whose goal is to make money. The information they posess is readily available elsewhere.

After being into cycling for a while, I've quickly learned that a bike is an extremely simple machine. Anyone that has even the slightest machanical inclination can learn to do anything on a bike themselves with just a little research and common sense (and maybe a special tool or two). The exception to this would be wheel building of course, that's an artform. I'll bet most LBS employees can't build wheels either. But shhhh, keep it quiet because the bike shop owners don't want the unsuspecting customers to realize this.

So having said that, it is probably obvious what my response to your question is. Buy mail order, install it yourself and have no feelings of guilt whatsoever, and be proud of your mechanical skills and the fact that you just saved 80 bucks, and learned something useful in the process. To me, part of the fun of cycling is being able to fiddle around with the machine! I guess if you have limitless cash, and are too busy to spend the time to do it yourself, then go to the LBS.

The only exception for me is if the procedure requires a special tool that I don't have (or want) I take it to the LBS.

Have a great weekend!

re: How much is loyalty to an LBS worth to you ?george_da_trog
Nov 21, 2003 8:10 PM
All they've ever done for me is take my money, and way too much of it at that.

Man, you bike shop sucks. My bike shop has done a lot for me. Maybe it's because I'm actually friends with the owner. We became friends after I was a customer not before.

What has the shop done for me....
They let me use their tools and stands anytime I want for free.
They've stayed open past closing time so I could assemble my new frame with a mix of parts that I bought from them and online.
They let me take home parts I can't pay for right now and just bill me later.
Called me about a road frame they saw online that would fit me and was a really good deal.
Connected me with most of the bike riders in my area.
And so much more...

Is it about loyalty or just having a really good bike shop.

Is LBS a business or a non-profit?KEN2
Nov 21, 2003 12:30 PM
I prefer to keep my business and charity monies separate. If the LBS is a non-profit and I believe in it, I would donate money to whatever charity limits I'd set. But since it's a business and competing for my hard-earned dollars, I'll take my business to the retailer that can provide the goods at the best price. If this is indeed wheels you're talking about, they shouldn't need any service for a long time at the prices you're quoting.
re: How much is loyalty to an LBS worth to you ?shopclass69
Nov 21, 2003 12:52 PM
I worked in a shop, it sucked sometimes. Guys coming in, asking all kinds of questions about stuff. Then they'd roll in a week later with the stuff on their rides that they needed adjusting. I know shops are exspensive, but i wasnt driving a Lexus and I only rode a Colnago b/c the rep gave it to me. Bottom line. It depends on the shop, and you. Im a former mechanic and as such have the tools to build my stuff and fix it with out need of a shop. BUT I ride with my old shop, i go there to drool over the new stuff too. But my old shop also rewarded good clients, ever get a shop to give you an employee discount on wheels? We used to. We had a client come in wanting to know about some wheels. We didnt sell them but ended up hooking him up to see how they rode and held up. We used him as a product reviewer so to speak, we helped those who helped us.
Business sucks and those who understand understand, those who dont complain.
He's a handy guy to have aroundRoyGBiv
Nov 21, 2003 12:56 PM
If I don't patronize him, he might go out of business. Then where will I go for cycling insights, encouragement and tires and a new pair of gloves every season?
re: How much is loyalty to an LBS worth to you ?PEDDLEFOOT
Nov 21, 2003 12:56 PM
Unless it's something he can't get or duplicate I always go to my LBS.I know him personally and know that when it comes to business he's as fair and honest as they come.I don't mind spending a little extra money at times when I know in the future I'll get it back with a little extra service or a break here or there.My LBS(SpinDoctor Cyclewerks-Bartlett Il.) is loyal to there customers and friends.I feel bad for others that deal with an LBS that does'nt feel the same way.
I'm loyal to my wallet. nmTom C
Nov 21, 2003 1:17 PM
Loyalty and budget are two different thingsgiro_man
Nov 21, 2003 1:23 PM
I speak from the perspective of living in a small market area where getting access to specific products or sizes can be a problem.

Loyalty is not an issue if you have a reliable place to shop and where you are treated fairly (which includes a "fair" price). You go back to this place naturally whether it is located down the block or through a 1-800 number. What you are looking for is service. The question for me is not who should I be loyal to but where can I get service.

Purchasing a product from one place versus another is a matter of budget and affordability; and, quite frankly, my budget is tight.
my LBS's are uselessPmbH
Nov 21, 2003 1:31 PM
OK, not really useless. I buy clothes, tubes, and other items from them. I've recently bought a computer, a trainer, sunglasses, and a few other gadgets too. But when it comes to components or labor, forget it! All the shops in my area fall into one-of-two catagories:

shop type #1 - Wall-to-wall mountain bikes in the $400 - $1500 range, hybrids, kids bikes, some road bikes. If it's not super common, you can't get it here. Great place to buy little accessories and power bars. Store is usually full of people bringing in their bikes to get flat tires fixed.

shop type #2 - No bike under $2500 to be seen anywhere. Lots of bikes over $4000. Shop employees won't talk to you unless you look like you make over $150k/yr. Show up on a Trek wearing a Performance jersey, and they just might call the cops on you thinking you're a shoplifter. Store is usually full of rich yuppies that rather stand around talking about their ti Seven's than actually ride them. Great place to pay $150 for a King headset.

OK, so maybe that's an exaggeration. Maybe I haven't hit all the LBS's yet. Maybe I'm just a picky customer. But I've found that I'm happiest giving my loyalty to a shop over two-thousand miles away, and doing my own work.

My loalty goes mostly to Speedgoat bicycles. Great shop. One of these days, I'll fly out there and see those guys.
Shop type #3dzrider
Nov 21, 2003 1:52 PM
Supports local cycling and triathlon scene through involvement in races and teams.

Helps kids learn to fix bikes.

Runs spin classes for cyclists in the back of the shop in the winter.

Welcomes riders into the shop to get out of the cold or rain or just to stay hi.

Has employees build relationships with serious riders and families with comfort and low-end mountain bikes.

I find that kind of shop worth supporting.
I'd LOVE a #3! Now if someone would open one in my area...PmbH
Nov 21, 2003 2:14 PM
I'd be happy, and definitely support it!
Shop type #3LIBoy
Nov 21, 2003 3:06 PM
Ditto here.nm
Well . .Rich_Racer
Nov 21, 2003 1:54 PM
To me, LBS loyalty is just going there first and really isn't more than that. I therefore end up buying stuff there without shopping around, sometimes, so relative prices become irrelevant. If I know I can get something cheaper somewhere else, I will probably go there.
Shop type #4:Alexx
Nov 23, 2003 12:43 PM
This looks like #3 when you fist go there (small shop, road bike specific, will work with you, etc...), but once you actually bring something back for service, you find that co-owner (not the guy you bought from, BTW) is a total @$$hole, and a lousy mechanic as well. Whenever you go to the shop, your not sure wether you'll deal will Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde (or, god forbid, the summer "mechanic"). Also, no matter what you need, they don't have it in stock, but they'll order it. 3 weeks later, you MAY have it...

I'm sorry, but there aren't any good shops where I live, so I'll just continue buying from online merchants.
re: Dependshudsonite
Nov 21, 2003 2:22 PM
I give the Local Bike shop most of our family business. They are good people and provide a good service. But if the item I am looking for is not carried by the local shop, I am going elsewhere.

Hard to find or expensive items are not what the LBS specializes in. That do not carry tubular tires. They don't build high-end wheels, they don't sell or service campy. So for these items I go to places that do or order on-line.

So at the end of the day, the local guy gets most of the business. That is the way it goes. Now if he/she were to give me grief over that, well, I will take all my business elsewhere.
re: How much is loyalty to an LBS worth to you ?mapei boy
Nov 21, 2003 4:02 PM
I patronize so many different LBS's, each individual LBS probably thinks of me as that a**hole that comes in every 18 months, spends a half hour staring at the $4000 bikes, and then walks out with a bottle of Tri Flow.
Nov 21, 2003 4:49 PM
I live in NYC. So for the big names, like Colliseum etc, I have no loyalty. Especially when they wanted to charge me 150 just to do a fitting.
On the other hand, there is an LBS that I patronize in NJ. The guy cares deeply about his customers, is helpful, overly helpful, and always cuts you a good deal.
To tell you the truth, I don't find my web savings that great after you pay for inflated shipping packaging and gods knows what else. I am willing to pay extra because I know he will stand behind his product. Unfortunatly finding someone like him, well, I doubt there is anyone else like him in the whole city.
Check out...kevinacohn
Nov 21, 2003 8:51 PM
...Larry & Jeff's. 87th and Second Avenue. My family has been going there for as long as I can remember. They're a great group of guys.
my LBS usually price matches...rrjc5488
Nov 21, 2003 7:48 PM
And since im 15, they offered me a job over the summer (gottan turn 16 first) so 99% of the time, i'll go to my LBS.
My LBS ROCKS!!!Asiago
Nov 21, 2003 7:49 PM
It'a a tiny shop but it is a great setup. His motto:

"If it's in stock, we've got it."

Phil gives me awesome deals, better than what I could get online for the same item. The only time I don't buy something from him is if he can't get it, like a brand name knock-off. And that is three times in the last two years.

Phil's a friend and riding buddy. He got me hooked up with my new coach, which led me to my new team (which he sponsors), and I'm going on a trip to Italy next March for which he is the "leader."

Phil is the owner, manager and entire staff!

I'm loyal......DINOSAUR
Nov 22, 2003 8:44 AM
I put a curb on my internet purchasing as I was buying stuff just because it was on sale, rather than something I really needed. I've pretty much had it with Performance. Their customer service, for a lack of a better work, sucks.

I know all the guys who work at my LBS, if I talk to the owner he can order stuff over their internet store (Cambria Bikes). But I don't do it unless it is a high buck item as I don't want to bug him to death.

I figure it's guys like me who come into my LBS who keep them in business. Sure, I might spend a couple of dollars more for some stuff. But if no one purchased locally they would go out of business and I would be out an LBS.

It's also nice to talk to someone who understands about riding instead of dealing with someone over the phone or internet who knows absolutely zip about bikes. I might pay a couple of dollars more, but it's guys like me who keep my LBS in business.

It's not all about money, but a lot of it depends on the relationship that you have with your LBS.

Also-if I purchase at my LBS I buy cash on the barrel head, vs running up my Visa bill using the interent.
Nov 23, 2003 12:00 AM
I'm not at all loyal to the LBS. I go to them when I need something quick or when I'm too lazy to fix my own bike. And unfortunately, about a third of the time, I end up having re-fix the bike myself.