I'll make this brief because I imagine that 1) it's been thrashed many times, and 2) it's just about as touchy as religion, politics, and how the rich spend their money on bicycles:-).
There will always be a spot for the niche based shop. That said, my recent experiences with one of the local shops only underlines the issue you mention; why are you here as a retail business? You're either offer unparallelled services (repair, fitting, customer friendliness), have availability (huge dollar investment in inventory), or low selling prices (again, probably large inventory investment). These address the traditional good/fast/cheap, pick any 2. Most mom and pop shops have a big box competitor besides the internet. How they decide to cope with those competitors and their flexibility to change will decide their outcome.
Gary Watts Vancouver, WA USA
-----Original Message----- From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of email@example.com Sent: Tuesday, November 14, 2006 10:12 AM To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: [CR]Was: NY Times story... Now: crappy bike shops
<< "It?s no secret to anyone who has ever endured an encounter with a grease-stained, eye-rolling, heavily sighing bicycle shop employee that customer service in the industry has historically ranged from sullen to supercilious to overtly hateful. (?It?s one of the few retail industries where a condition for employment seems to be utter contempt for the customer,? said one industry executive.)"
I like to think that most shops have moved away from that business model but there are still a few around. Sad. Geez, I think that statement by that "executive" is a serious overstatement.
As a bike biz guy for 35 years, I really do not think that this trade is any worse and maybe better than most others... The automobile world is famous for cheating customers with unneeded parts and services, price gouging the naive.. Rudeness and customer-no-service is endemic throughout the world these days. Bike shops are most often, at least in my region, run by people who love bikes and their customers. Employees in shops suffer from low priority placed on their skills by the public and commensurate low pay, so often young and unprofessional folks do that work. Certainly customers cannot expect to be treated like Donald Trump at a Health spa by minimum wage earners?
I guess many of you have had bad bike shop interactions, sadly I hear it all the time. My only thought is that IF you are lucky enough to have a decent shop near you, with people you like and who are good at their job, then I hope you try to support them as much as possible.
I do know, as a board member of the National Bicycle Dealers Association, that many (most?) bike shops are moving toward improving, upgrading, refining, becoming more friendly environments for their (shrinking) customer base. Price-only shoppers are abandoning traditional service providers and heading toward the Internet. Gloomier folk say the traditional shop is heading toward extinction. Time will tell (I am just glad my son is an engineer rather than taking over the family business!)
I guess the trend to Boutique shops with only high end product will result in well compensated and ambitious staff who then will have the skills to pamper the client.
This all may be drifting Off Topic but the connection is that somehow I think that shops like mine, Jeff Groman's, Jeff Archer's, Mike Barry's and many other CR members' will become as rare as the vintage bikes that bring us together on this list if the trend continues....
Dale Brown cycles de ORO, Inc. 1410 Mill Street Greensboro, North Carolina 27408 USA 336.274.5959 http://www.cyclesdeoro.com http://www.classicrendezvous.com -----Original Message----- From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Sent: Tue, 14 Nov 2006 12:41 PM Subject: Re: [CR]NY Times story on (slightly) pricey bicycles
I really believe that "a rising tide raises all boats" or something like that. It was obviously an underserved portion of the marketplace if these guys can make a go of it.
The real truth in the article is this paragraph: "It?s no secret to anyone who has ever endured an encounter with a grease-stained, eye-rolling, heavily sighing bicycle shop employee that customer service in the industry has historically ranged from sullen to supercilious to overtly hateful. (?It?s one of the few retail industries where a condition for employment seems to be utter contempt for the customer,? said one industry executive.)"
I like to think that most shops have moved away from that business model but there are still a few around. Sad.
Kevin MacAfee St Paul _______________________________________________
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