Monday, March 19, 2007

Shop Locally or Support Online Businesses?

My policy is to support my LBS as much as possible and I have spent a lot of $$$ on bikes/parts over the years at the Calgary bike shops. However, I dabble in some pretty exotic bikes compared to the average cyclist, which means I have to use mail order to get what I need. For example my Volae was mail ordered as well as upgrades for it that I have purchased over the months. In some cases I have tried to order special items through my LBS they just couldn't make it happen.

Recently I needed to order a few things and since they weren't run of the mill items I was about to order them from Harris Cyclery in the USA. Harris Cyclery is about as close to a LBS for me as it gets while being in another country. I get fast great service and best of all they stock the odd bits I need that a LBS wouldn't. So I was about to place the order when I thought I better call a LBS and see if they can help me out. I called a shop 3 blocks from me and not only did they have what I needed, but it was cheaper than Harris [not factoring in shipping] - nice. This weekend my friend Jeff needed to get his wife a lock for her new touring bike and I needed some disc brakes. We went to another LBS that I frequent a lot - I spend enough time there and brought so many people in to buy bikes that I get 20% off everything which is noted on my computer file as [Vik is one of the good guys 20% off - the cashier gets a chuckle out of that each time]. I check online and I got some Avid BB7s for less in CDN then they are sold for in USD - sweet.

I was quite happy that I had checked things out and shopped at my locals LBS. However, then I started thinking - if I don't support the online specialty stores and they close - where do I get my exotic bent parts from? Sure its great that I buy 1 recumbent widget from an online shop that specializes in bents, but that's not a lot of business. What would help them is if I bought the widget that I needed and a pair of Avid BB7s and three SRAM chains and a bike computer. Its a bit of a problem. I want to support my LBS so I have a place to go when I need help and to put money into Calgarians' pockets OTOH I want to be able to call up the Hostel Shoppe and get a carbon fibre light mount made specifically for my Volae.

For now I'll shop locally when I can and when I do need to order online I'll grab anything else I need at the time from that merchant even if I can get it here. Not much of a do you do to resolve this dilemma?

1 comment:

JRA, Mike said...

IMO, use the LBS for stuff that typically needs after-sale support. Disc brakes, suspension forks, stems (in case you buy wrong length), bars (again for fit) are all good to buy local. Otherwise, it comes down to availability and price. Many of us stuggle with this, and we do both like you Vik. - JRA Mike