Mountain Bike Reviews Forum banner
1 - 20 of 44 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
55 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Recently, I opened a thread in General Discussion to bring out some of the things that would be found in an ideal and yet realistic LBS. The response has been overwhelming, which proves all the more to me the need for a new look at what a bike shop is and can be. One responder in particular, Formica, asked me to open this thread from a new light: what do women want out of their shop? This is not a light topic, in fact central to the survival of the sport. I also hesitate to issue any disclaimers here, but the only thing I don't want is for someone to say that another's ideas are lame or impossible, blah blah blah. We're dreaming a little here. I work in a shop already, a good shop, and wonder at the end of every day how on Earth we keep the doors open. So, speak freely. Speak freely on your negative experiences. Speak on what you dream of from a shop.
 

·
Don't worry, be happy!
Joined
·
8,141 Posts
Since I sent you here...

I"ll repost what I put in that other thread, with some extra comments.

Condescending treatment is the #1 complaint that women have about LBS. That, and lack of stock/selection.

I've been told outright lies by one LBS. The biggest of them all was that no one makes a FS bike in my size, and I don't even ride an XS.

Keep small, high end mountain bikes in stock. I was ready to drive 5 hours away to another city to find a bike I could actually try before buying.

Educate staff on what WSD is and is not. Just because a gal is a gal does not automatically mean she needs a women specific bike, or women specific anything else either ( i.e., not all women wear flowers and pink) But, WSD frames can make a huge difference for some gals - so you have to know your stuff.

Many women wrench on their own bikes, don't treat us like we don't know what we are doing when we ask for certain tools or parts.

Don't ignore heavy/older women. Just because someone's not a size 2, "hot", or age 23 doesn't mean they can't be a valued customer.

That's all I've got for now.

~formica
 

·
life is a barrel o'fun
Joined
·
2,502 Posts
I'd say get to know your female customers, and provide stuff that other shops don't. For example, if they're built extra large or extra small, be sure to find out what they like and let them know you'll order it.

Never be condescending, and if you laugh at their questions or what they did to their bike, say that it's no big deal, these are common questions/repair mistakes. My desire to learn repairs is tempered by the humiliation of screwing it up! Although my LBS gets props for not only being nice about my screw-ups, they allow me to observe some of the repairs/ projects.

You don't have to treat them like princesses, but don't flat-out ignore them, either. Back in the day, as a college student, I asked at the LBS about group rides, and they didn't take me seriously at all. Sure, maybe I was too much a beginner to keep up with THEM, but they could've at least pointed me in the right direction.

How about a Ladies' Night? Women get free stuff on weekdays from 5-7pm? :cool: Ah, it was worth a shot ;)

EDIT: Just noticed Formica's post, wow guess these things are true across the board! Bottom line, don't assume that women know nothing, but if they happen to know nothing, gently help get them up to speed. Word will get out!

EDIT #2: Ladies' Night at the shop.......actually this would be a great idea! A silly little way to get curious women in the door (and the guys would likely follow.) Gather women together and get their feedback in a group discussion. Free snacks and soft drinks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
112 Posts
I would visit your shop if it had a large selection of different women's clothing. I don't wear spandex or traditional jerseys, and I hate shops that only carry black, elastic waist baggies. Sure, you'll probably have to carry some of that stuff, but reach out to some of the new cooler companies and carry stuff that you can't find in every shop out there.

Bringing women to your shop by offering women's only group rides is great advertising as well. One shop in Park City sees about 30-50 women every Tuesday night for weekly rides hosted by their women riders. I would also appreciated women's only bike clinics, as long as they are taught in a way that is not condescending. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
922 Posts
I'll have to agree with everything formica said.

I too have been outright lied to in shops.

I've been told only racers need what I happen to be shopping for.

I have been completely ignored in a shop even after wondering about for 15 minutes.

The worse thing to happen to me was a store manager making extreemely inappropriate remarks to me and under his breath to a subordinate when I was delivering flyers for local womens group ride.

But, in the grand scheme of things I have seen great improvement at many places over the past several years.

I think part of it is more women working in the shops and part of it is better hiring and training.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
I would say a knowledgable staff is the most important. They need to take the women riders seriously. Also they need to be able to fit bikes to women and keep more than 2 or 3 bikes in stock.

Women's rides would be great! I ride with a bunch of guys from my LBS and they're always waiting on me. They're all really nice, but I feel bad sometimes. It was kind of intimidating at first. Women's rides would also get more women interested in the sport.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
87 Posts
I agree with everything ... women's rides and women's clinics

I was fortunate to live within 15 minutes of the most awesome mtb bike shop ever before I moved.
The shop owners were a couple and the female co-owner used to attend the weekly rides and help lead. Having an experienced female rider on the ride helped bring out more women each week to the rides and her knowlege and her encouragement was a great motivator. I learned so much from her especially how cool night riding could be when you have the right equipment.
Their group rides and their super friendly greetings whenever you walked in the shop made me an absolute loyal customer and I spent literally thousands of $ there over the years.
Even when I moved away, I went back to them to give them my business for my most expensive bike purchase ever.
Unfortunately, the local shops in my area now are the same as you all complain about....either all roadie oriented, and are condescending to women with their purchases assuming they don't know squat.

Bottom lines:
1) Women have and will spend big money on bike purchases--don't assume anything.
2) If you are the shop that makes a woman feel comfortable when she makes her first purchases or inquiries, you will have a customer for life. :thumbsup:
 

·
involuntary dismounter
Joined
·
2,391 Posts
this goes for all bike shops...not just women specific ones:

don't be snooty...just because i don't own a $5,000 bike does not mean that i should be treated like crap...especially since the bruises on my legs, the salt/sweat/dirt crusted on my face, and the wear on my bike all indicate that i love the dirt...

think of it this way...since my bike is not top of the line...i'm likely to be upgrading soon...and if you're snooty...i won't be doing it at your shop!:cool:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
269 Posts
I am all about the fit. I would love to see a shop that knows how to fit women to bikes. I am 5'6" with a 32" inseam and the stores love putting me on bikes that are too big based on my inseam. There are a lot of stores in my area and I have yet to find one that knows what they are doing as far as fit goes. So a store that knows about fit for both men and women would be what I would want. Have a fit kit available so you can set the bike up before they take it home.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,995 Posts
formica said:
...Don't ignore heavy/older women. Just because someone's not a size 2, "hot", or age 23 doesn't mean they can't be a valued customer.
In my group rides, it's normaly the older women (and older men) that have some of the more $$$ bikes and gear.

Ant
 

·
Trail Goddess
Joined
·
988 Posts
I totally agree with the posts so far. As far as the 'women's night' idea, I was fortunate enogh to attend one at a shop 60 miles from home. They made my long drive worth it. They had a female mechanic on hand teaching tips and tricks for working on your bikes, factory rep from a WSD clothing company (Terry I think) explaining the different items available to women riders, and various other info "stations". They did drawings throughout the night and had snacks. It was a blast and I learned so much in 3 hours. I wish they held them more often.

I'm not into clothing that is pink or froo-froo. I wish the LBS would carry a larger selection of clothing options. Especially, those items that are not so commonly found, small sized gloves, helmets, shoes in my case.

The shops that help women riders learn about riding are the ones that earn our respect and loyalty. And women specific wrenching classes would rock. I'd love to work on my bike better without feeling like I'm amusing the rest of the 'class' with my 'silly' questions.

Fiona
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,837 Posts
Most of this isn't women's specific, but:

1. Treat customers well whether they bought their current bike from you or not. I bought my first DH bike on ebay. And I brought it in to Go-Ride and Krispy hooked me up, set up the suspension for me, looked it over, and all I did was buy new bars. But he was smart - he knew I'd be back over and over for replacement parts and service on things I can't fix myself - pretty much every week. I still totally appreciate that they didn't give me any crap about my ebay bike, and my husband I both eventually bought new bikes from them. Don't alienate people because they didn't buy the big ticket item from you or all you're doing is making sure they WON'T buy it from you in the future. I've even had shops treat me like crap when I just moved into town... how dumb is that?

2. Try your best to help out people in need. I don't mean gifts - I mean when you've got broken parts on a race weekend, or are on your way out for a bike trip and desparately need something, etc. Yeah, you can't solve everything last minute, but when you can - it builds good will like nothing else - and desparate people are the ones who have no problem shelling out full retail. More props for Go-Ride for hooking up my husband with a loaner part for his fork so he could race yesterday while they ordered the new part. We had a shop in Alabama take disc rotors off of a bike on the floor that was for sale to sell to my husband when he flew into town for a race, removed brake rotors and didn't pack them. (Whoops!) I know it's risking not being able to sell that bike that you just cannibalized, but wow do you develop some love for doing stuff like that. And sometimes it's emergency help with repair - I broke a seatpost in Brianhead and the little shop there didn't have one in the right size, but found some spare bolts and pieces and came up with a temporary fix so I could ride. :D

Whereas... I've been to another shop recently, where I needed brake pads, showed up before they were open and they had the door unlocked. I walked in - "sorry we don't open for 20 minutes." I explained what I needed, that my group was waiting for me - can I just give you cash for more than they cost? "no, you'll have to wait until we're open." Thanks for nothing... I went to another shop in town and got them.

3. I totally agree with the sentiment that you shouldn't judge your customers by appearance. Whether it's because they're women, or young, or out of shape... whatever. Don't give me a bunch of crap when I ask to buy some sort of tool or a specific part that you think I wouldn't know what to do with. If I know to ask for it, just sell it to me or tell me you don't have it. Some people are great with casually asking what you're fixing, chatting about your bike, whatever. That's cool - I'm happy to have a friendly conversation about it when the other person treats me respectfully. But if you're going to say something like "Do you even know how to use that?" Just keep your mouth shut. It's so easy to feel out someone looking at bikes with "What kind of riding do you do? What's your favorite trail?" "What bike do you ride?" or looking at tools with "Doing some repairs or just regular maintenance?" Assumptions (and that ugly "I'm better than you" tone of voice") are what get bike shops in trouble.

4. Selection. I've never purchased a pair of black, elastic waisted baggies. Nor will I - ever. Bike shorts are one of the very few things in this world that I've resigned myself to paying full price for without question. It's so hard to find something that's good quality and fits right, that I'll just pay whatever it costs when I see something just right. Meaning, there better not be any elastic on the waist. Or fabric that looks like it's going to self destruct upon it's first meeting with the ground. It needs good zippers, chamois, and functional pockets... And carry the whole range of sizes - not all serious riders are tiny and we all need clothes.

5. Saddles - why don't shops have one of each saddle they carry available so you could throw it on a stationary bike or a bike on a trainer or something so you could, I don't know... sit on it before you buy? The Specialized measuring thing is a start, but there's more to fit than just width. I know some let you exchange, etc. But ideally, I think you should take it a step further and let you actually sit on it before purchasing. What if you let people test out different clipless pedals too? Bring your shoes, throw on the cleats and try out a demo pair.... maybe I'm dreaming, but that would be nice.

The last thing is that the key to a succesful bike shop seems to be "how to get your regular customers to pay retail or close to it instead of buying cheaper online". And the above stuff is really it for me - if you offer me real service, help out in emergencies, and basically hook me up in those often intangible ways - including just generally being nice to me, I'll go back to your shop and not haggle over the price (though when you do discount the price, even a little, it definitely make me feel appreciated when I'm a regular customer). One of the shops in Moab gave us "locals" discount cards after seeing us there all the time - like 10% off of non-sale items - not a big deal, but we appreciated the recognition that we're "regulars" if nothing else. If you're not offering me anything better than an internet store, I'm only going to buy the odd thing I need in an emergency or off of your clearance rack.
 

·
Queen Kona
Joined
·
225 Posts
Fortunately, I've never had a very negative female-related experience at bikeshop. I taught my boyfriend to ride, so (until he got super-knowledgeable about technical stuff), I was the one doing all the talking.

I think one of my biggest complaints is that the small half-closet-sized space that women's clothing is in is so pink and flowery that you'd swear no females ride because they're scared they'll break a nail. I mean, hire a woman to help with ordering or even consult female customers, but, just because I have breasts doesn't mean that I wear only pinks and purples and jerseys covered with flowers! If you have female customers, hire a female!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
55 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The good news for me here is that a lot of the necessary changes we have already explored in a general way apply to the female side of our clientele. Things like rudeness/condescension are definitely to be done away with. Sounds like a no brainer, right? Try putting it into practice. One of the hardest parts about our shop is that we DO have a female employee and by the end of the day she's been walked over so many times, she doesn't want to come back tomorrow for more. Worse, she knows her stuff, so it's a double insult when someone says, "That's nice, dear, now if I could speak to one of the guys in the back."

Which brings me to another thing I have noticed from your responses: gender is an issue. I assume that BerkeleyMike meant exactly what I just said about sticking to some basics that apply to everyone. On the other hand, gender is an issue because it's not handled well by most shops. The "paint it pink" way is missing the point. On the other hand, not taking female customers seriously is a costly mistake, too. Keep it coming, we're still not to the bottom of this.
 

·
Bored Carp
Joined
·
1,596 Posts
Check out the excellent shops

I have been really impressed with the Utah shop experience in general (moved here 2 mos ago, from SoCal, was in Seattle before that). People are friendlier, most shops are beautiful and well stocked.

Connie and UTsnowgirl are right about both shops they mention - GoRide is friendly and WhitePine in Park City hosts the biggest women's group ride I have ever seen (58 women last session). In addition, Contender in SLC has the best stock of women's gear I have ever seen in a shop - ie, many pairs of shoes in complete size runs (I actually paid retail for shoes there - I NEVER do that, but it was worth it) lots of clothes, tons of built up road and XC bikes (not a DH shop), including some very high-end women's models, and 3 women who work on the floor and clearly get a lot of respect from the rest of the staff.

Anyway, there are excellent shops out there ( BITD, I used to work for a women-owned shop in Seattle - we were cutting the noses out of San Marco Rolls Saddles way back before Terry, this is where I learned about bikes for women - it isn't a new thing, just less rare) - it would be worth the plane ticket to see them, meet the owner and find out what they are doing right.

Cheers,
C
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
95 Posts
bike shop

I think someone else said this but what I have never seen and would love to see are high end bikes in size small and extra small. I have bought two full suspension bikes without riding either one. I think a super high end bike ready to ride would be a big temptation. When you have to order it and buy it sight unseen or ride the entry level bike and guess about the one three levels up it takes a lot of the fun out of it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,837 Posts
mountaindewberry said:
The good news for me here is that a lot of the necessary changes we have already explored in a general way apply to the female side of our clientele. Things like rudeness/condescension are definitely to be done away with. Sounds like a no brainer, right? Try putting it into practice. One of the hardest parts about our shop is that we DO have a female employee and by the end of the day she's been walked over so many times, she doesn't want to come back tomorrow for more. Worse, she knows her stuff, so it's a double insult when someone says, "That's nice, dear, now if I could speak to one of the guys in the back."

Which brings me to another thing I have noticed from your responses: gender is an issue. I assume that BerkeleyMike meant exactly what I just said about sticking to some basics that apply to everyone. On the other hand, gender is an issue because it's not handled well by most shops. The "paint it pink" way is missing the point. On the other hand, not taking female customers seriously is a costly mistake, too. Keep it coming, we're still not to the bottom of this.
I can imagine that the stereotypes have to be doubly annoying when coming the other way - from rude customers. And I don't know how you solve that, unless you can get your male employees who talk to these people afterwards to throw out a "well - she's the expert on this" comment....

I wonder how you'd do with a women's specific store. (Not that it would be all WSD gear, because we don't all need it) but basically focused on women. (Or at least a large wing of the shop, with it's own staff and register and everything devoted to women, maybe? Not just a rack in the corner with pink jerseys and the black elastic waisted baggy shorts?) You have online stores that seem to do well with it - Team Estrogen, etc. I think it would largely depend on the existing shops in the area and if local women riders already felt comfortable in those shops. But I wonder how many women are put off by a bad bike shop experience and drop out of the sport? Or never got fitted correctly and didn't think riding was fun because riding was so uncomfortable/so much extra work?

I'm definitely of the sort that I don't mind being the only woman in what I'm doing. I was in the Army and have pretty much always had a job where there were very few women. And while we have a lot of girls who MTB around here, when I ride DH, I'm usually very outnumbered. And it doesn't bother me at all. So basically, I'm probably not the target audience here... just theorizing.
 
1 - 20 of 44 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top