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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Before you write this off as another LBS rant or praise, please read on. I am in quite a predicament. I have followed most of the advice on these forums and have attempted to get in good with my LBS. I come in there almost everytime I ride (trails are VERY near to the bike shop) and I am on a first name basis with a few of the employees. I did not buy my bike from them (kind of a long story), but I do buy parts and have had my bike serviced there before. I try to spend buy something, one, because I love to buy stuff for my love (my bike) and two just to help the guys out. I am a college student though so I have never made a REALLY substantial purchase there. I did however buy a wheelset and a light from their shop the other day and was pretty dissapointed because, I am completely willing to spend a little bit more to support a LBS. My problem is though, I bought a cygolite and a rhynolite wheelset and after installation and taxes and all that, it came out to 300. I added those up online and it came out to 200 shipped. I knew I was paying a little more at the shop, but I didn't think it was that substantial, and then they charged me like 12 bucks per wheel to mount the tire and all of that. I didn't know it was going to be that much, I mean, I'm not an expert, but I would have DEFINITELY installed them myself if I knew that it was going to be that much. Anyways, so what do you guys think, basically it comes down to, support shop or be broke??
 

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DP1112 said:
Before you write this off as another LBS rant or praise, please read on. I am in quite a predicament. I have followed most of the advice on these forums and have attempted to get in good with my LBS. I come in there almost everytime I ride (trails are VERY near to the bike shop) and I am on a first name basis with a few of the employees. I did not buy my bike from them (kind of a long story), but I do buy parts and have had my bike serviced there before. I try to spend buy something, one, because I love to buy stuff for my love (my bike) and two just to help the guys out. I am a college student though so I have never made a REALLY substantial purchase there. I did however buy a wheelset and a light from their shop the other day and was pretty dissapointed because, I am completely willing to spend a little bit more to support a LBS. My problem is though, I bought a cygolite and a rhynolite wheelset and after installation and taxes and all that, it came out to 300. I added those up online and it came out to 200 shipped. I knew I was paying a little more at the shop, but I didn't think it was that substantial, and then they charged me like 12 bucks per wheel to mount the tire and all of that. I didn't know it was going to be that much, I mean, I'm not an expert, but I would have DEFINITELY installed them myself if I knew that it was going to be that much. Anyways, so what do you guys think, basically it comes down to, support shop or be broke??
Dude, this is indeed a very good topic, and a hard topic to make all parties happy.....I am the same, really like to support the LBS, but there comes a point where by it is not good business sense. I too am willing to pay slightly more, but where does the willing stop. Is it 10% more, 20% more etc????

I just purchased a new FSA K-Force MegaExo bla bla crankset. I checked with my LBS, they gave me a price, checked online, the price I kid you not was half the price....... What am I too do? Do not have to be a rocket scientist. Cannot purchase from the LBS in this case. What is a pain also is that the LBS was going to have to order it in, the Crankset arrived quicker from the online store than the LBS could have got it. So I take that into account also. Why should I pay the same price whent he LBS did not even have to keep the item in stock which most stores would not have this in stock.

You ask a great question, which I dont have the exact answer. Would be good to see TNC, etc etc views on this, they have LBS´s which am sire they would give an honest answer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
yeah it's definitely late for more responses, but i am looking for solutions to this. It's just difficult because i hear some of the people on this forum having amazing relationships with their LBS, but I'm sort of thinking that those guys may also be the same ones who drop 2K+ on a bike and then continually spend about 150 every other week or so for a new der., or 400 for new light, 100 new pedals, etc.. Not 10 for a spoke tool, 40 for a bike lock, 25 for pump, etc..
 

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I hear you guys on this. I have been looking for a Fox F100 RLT for my next hardtail build and I just can't justify the price at my favorite LBS. I mean, the mechanic and owner are awesome, but how can they justify asking $650 for a 2004 Fox F100 RLT?

Even if I order a 2007 Fox F100 RLT through them, it would be plus 8.25% tax (not their fault). That's almost $50. But I can get a 2007 F100 RLT for $650, free delivery, no tax, and a free Chris King headset online. Prices at the shop are fixed, so I don't want to make an ass of myself by bargaining.

My guess is that I will order the fork online and use the money saved (i.e. 8.25% tax) to pay them for their labor to install my headset and fork. That way, they get some business too.
 

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Sk1nnyguy (Whafe) must both be skinny.

I agree with you, what the LBS needs to understand is. The internet guys are here to stay, when the price is 20% different, we are foolish to not take advantage of that. Or like your example of the fork.

They then need to knwo that we will not mind at all to pay for mechanical work. I think if that simple side ot equation is understood, all would be well............. To a point anyway.........

On the flip side, if you own a vegie shop. your really good mate whom owns the LBS, is he going to pay 5 bucks for your melon if the next door vegie shop has that melon for 3 bucks. NO he wont. He would if yours was 5 bucks and the next door shop was 4.90, I guess he would purchase from you.

I have learnt the real hard way in supporting my LBS to the bitter end, I mean the bitter end, it cost me a around 2K. I never recouped that in the longrun, not by a long shot, I didnt expect too either, but I expected to be treated well....
 

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How come you didn't ask what it would cost before you bought? Since you didn't then you're stuck with the price.
 

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fred3 said:
How come you didn't ask what it would cost before you bought? Since you didn't then you're stuck with the price.
Agreed fred3, but I dont think this is the main issue with the post that was made.. It was more the bigger picture of LBS online purchasing
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
well honestly, i did know the prices of the light and the wheels, but i just didn't realize the subtantial difference once everything was added (tax, and labor). I actually was pretty surprised that they charged me that much to install my wheels, it took maybe 30 minutes, and i would have DEF done it myself had i known. That is totally my fault and I accept responsibility, but Whafe definitely understands what I'm saying here. Basically, to me as a college student hard up for cash, but sincerely wanting to support the LBS, what's one to do? I lost out on 100 bucks ,which is a substantial amount of money to me, gettin paid about 7 bucks an hour, net pay. Where's the happy medium, like they posted earlier, i couldn't freakin bargain them down to Jenson's prices.
 

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My LBS seems to not mind installing my internet-purchased parts and I don't mind paying them to do it, so it seems like a reasonable compromise to me. I did run into as shop once that flatly refused to install any part not purchased there. That relationship lasted about as long as it took them to tell me that.

Both the advantage and disadvantage of a LBS is the often much more personal relationship the owner/manager/employees have with customers. This can be a good thing, leading to hookups, trail beta, friendships etc. but it can also spoil what ought to be a pretty neutral transaction with bad feelings, i.e., if the shop feels like it's getting lowballed or the customer feels she is getting ripped off. Both sides are likely to view the other as completely out of touch with reality, whether that be regarding online prices or how much it costs to run a business, and translate those beliefs into words or actions that include hefty doses of passion, anger, etc. The anonymity of the internet goes a long ways in resolving at least this element of conflict--neither side can hear the other cursing them and emails are easier to ignore/respond to than face to face complaints.
 

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fw190 said:
My LBS seems to not mind installing my internet-purchased parts and I don't mind paying them to do it, so it seems like a reasonable compromise to me.
This to me seems the perfect arrangement. I too am not one to complain if indeed they charge me for installing a component, I expect to pay............. Not usre that these are the common though............ Others, what are your thoughts of your LBS installing components etc purchased from an internet based store?
 

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Ask for a labor quote

The only thing you missed out on is asking them the labor cost up front. Many shops have fixed costs on common labor items such as fixing flats, installing headsets, running cable, etc. My guess is that they would have told you up front that the tire mounting was $12.00 per wheel. Lesson learned.

I think you're doing the right thing in supporting the shop, yet being wise with your money when you need to. It's a delicate balance, and I try to do the same thing. I buy parts online and install them myself, and for the jobs I just can't handle or don't want to do myself, I give them to the LBS.

Don't double clutch on this experience. Chalk it up to a faux pas on your end for not getting the quote, and just be more careful in the future.

Bob
 

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Don't sweat it

There are very few of us who actually work on their bikes and buy their parts online. There are a lot of older adults, parents and kids who wouldn't know how to even change a flat tire who are constantly supporting the lbs. Why do you think the lbs's are so busy in the spring and summer and have wait times about 1 week. For the few of us buying online and working on our own bikes it wouldn't add enough to make or break a bike shop. Just my $.02.
 

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I'm a uni student too...

I'm at uni and have a reasonable amount of money to live on... but when it comes to buying items for my bike- online stores come first.

I still buy things from my LBS- being a club member I get 20% off accessories - but it's hard to beat buying from the US and NZ. A lot of the products are just simply cheaper. I still buy small things like tires, tubes, lubes etc and any other things from the LBS like getting the bike serviced.

And Chris (LBS owner) knows about all this... it's hard to hide when you ride with the guy! But he understands that there's a certain point at which I can afford bike stuff and that's normally at a price that he can't meet. At least while your at uni (err, College) take it easier on yourself... although once you start earning more, then you can rack your brains about the morality of it all.
 

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It is very common to go to a LBS and see the prices a little above what you find on the internet. I too am swayed toward the net on occasion, but always find a way to include the LBS in the purchase. Most of you have already listed what I do to keep the LBS in the loop. Recently I bought a child carrier from my LBS. The price was $10 more than what it would have been if I bought it online. But, the clincher is that the LBS gives me free wheel tensioning and truing on the carrier for the life of it. Now that is cool in anyones book.:thumbsup:
 

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Try not to compare...

As somebody who as completely built his own bike from parts, new and used, I'll confess to not having much to do with bike shops, other than to work in one for a while.
One thing to remember is that your average internet retailer will have very, very low business over-heads compared to the guy with the shop in town.
It's possible to run a pretty big internet operation from your own home, assuming you have a spare room or garage, and even if you just wipe out the cost of the rent on a shop you're already in a better position to sell cheap. This is how most internet companies are able to sell so cheap, and this is why your LBS can rarely, if ever, compete.
Now, I'm all for keeping bike people in business, but the bottom line for me is can I afford something? I don't have much spare cash, so what I do have I spend wisely. I'd be a fool to walk into a shop and pay £45 for an XT mech that I can get from my favorite eBay store for £30.
If I had a large disposable income then I know that I'd spend my cash in the local shop; if you have it, you should spread it about, or so I believe. Until that time comes, I'm going to keep looking for the best deals.
The shop that I used to work in got my labor for free, more or less. I got some stuff at discount and the guy who owned the shop made a bit extra on his labor charges. He's closed down now, though. Halfords opened a superstore nearby, all the crowds all went there for the 'cheapies' and he couldn't survive on repairs alone, even if it was all the low quality, pre-pack bikes from Halfords.
Peace,
Steve.
 

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Good issue, and some good responses here.

If I'm in the market for a new component, the first thing I do is to call my LBS to find out two things: (1) price; and (2) do they have it in stock (if not, how long to get it). I then do some quick shopping online and see where the LBS stands in comparison.

I expect to almost always pay more at the LBS, but I find that I also get more in return. They offer free installation, their installation is usually better than my (improving) wrench skills, and handling warranty issues is much easier through them. Obviously, the value of these benefits varies depending on what I'm buying. If the price is relatively close (within 10%) and the LBS has the part in stock (or I don't need it immediately), I'll buy from them without feeling like I'm getting robbed.

As my wrench skills improve, my personal bike knowledge grows and my bikes become increasingly higher end, I find that I'm increasingly less inclined to shop from my LBS. This is unfortunate, but very few LBSs are dealers for more than one or two high end manufacturers, the selection of higher end bikes that they do carry is limited, price differences and taxes become significant for higher end bikes and components, I already know what geometry works for me, and I can do my own maintenance and repairs almost as well and with less down time.
 

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I know a few people who work in bike shops, mostly the guys who do repars and fittings, and they all (and I mean all) wish that more people would learn to fix their own stuff, even though it would mean less business for them. Sometimes I can understand why; there are few things worse than being given I bike that hasn't seen any kind of maintenance for decades and being asked to 'find the creak'. Imagine how tedious it must be changing tyres or brake pads all day, every day. Most of the stuff that bike shops get is because of people's laziness, to do and to learn.
Bike mechanics are usually doing the job because they have an interest in mechanics, engineering and problem solving, not because they love changing brake pads or repairing punctures.
 

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Indeed some great posts. I think it is an overall concensus that most of us will pay more at the LBS, but it is how much more... Also for me, most of the time when you are getting into higher end kit, the LBS stocks it less. I still feel a number of LBS still feel they should make the margin as if they had it in stock. That is not a fair deal in my book. There has been no stock risk taken ny the LBS.

The crankset I mentioned above I just bought. I was quoted by two LBS, 1 store 635.00 Euro, the 2nd LBS 590.00 Euro, online got it for 320.00 Euro (depending on the days exchange rate). That is OTT, I know they have far more overheads etc etc, am accepting all that. But a price difference like that is nothing to just pass by.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks guys, I think that's what I'll do. It's just a learning experience I guess. I wish I was making just a little more money so that it wouldn't be such a big deal to me. I should have added everything up to the "T" before purchasing it. I guess what happened was I thought I was only paying a little bit extra, i saw the wheels for about 90 + shipping online, and the light for about 100+shipping, the wheels were about 125 and the light was about 120 in the store, so I thought I was only "over" paying by about 40 or so, which was way worth it to me to support the LBS, but after taxes and labor it ended up being about 100, that's when I kinda freaked.
 

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Yeah, taxes are a real killer, especially when buying major items like wheelsets or complete bikes. I recently bought a new Turner. Even had there been a local authorized Turner dealer, the added $400 in sales tax would have been a big hit to take and probably would have made me consider a lower level spec group to keep it under my price limit.

The lack of taxation for out-of-state online orders really hurts local small businesses.
 
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