Death of the local bike shop

I've worked in bike shops since 1993 and things have changed a bit in that amount of time. Back when I started most shops didn't have websites, the internet was looked at over some crappy dial up connection, and none of it was all that exciting to me. I do remember looking at the Ibis site and thinking "These dudes know how to have a good time!" but that was the only internet experience that stuck with me. These days there are so many online stores to find the lowest possible price for everything, it's scary. Maybe scary isn't the word, but something is going on here that is going to shape the way things become. I know that not everyone shops for stuff based solely on price. For a lot of people, going to a store that has knowledgeable sales staff means a lot. Talking to the person that will be there if you have any problems has some value. But being able to type in a product online and instantly find the lowest price will affect bike shops. We can all agree that people who work hard should be able to earn a living wage, but we don't want to pay them. I've had to explain why our product is more expensive than the exact same thing online multiple times. A lot of people just don't get it. Two companies that do get it are Trek and Specialized. They have made it a priority to not sell products online specifically to help the local bike shop. There are some other examples of companies that do similar stuff like protecting MSRP (Chris King comes to mind), but most companies see a bigger number of sales at a lower profit as attractive no matter who it affects. They will sell to anyone even if it means the devaluing of their product.

Or maybe I'm not getting it. I don't eat meat because I believe that in our capitalist society we vote every time we buy a product. I believe that meat production in the US is extremely wasteful and wrong. Cows don't eat corn! So by not spending my money on that product I am also casting my vote. Recently, I started to realize that if there are farmers that are raising meat in a way that is, what I would view as correct, than by buying that product I would essentially be casting a more powerful double vote, one no and one yes. But I really don't miss eating the stuff.

So what I think I might not be getting is that maybe this new world order, where the computer answers our every hope and dream is a brighter future. I tried recently to persuade a friend that subscribing to netflix is killing the local video store. His response? "Maybe the local video store should die." Netflix is conveient, cheap and allows us to get what we want at the touch of a button. What's not to like? My argument is that the money you spend on netflix (your vote) is going somewhere and to someone that you have no connection to. We'll complain all day about the customer service person on the phone who is in India, but the reason they are answering the phone is because you cast your vote when you decided to buy the product that broke because it was cheap, and one of the things that makes it cheap is to hire Indian phone operators.
Shake the hand of your farmer, and your video clerk, and your baker. Especially the hand of the person that sells you that next inner tube. When I go to my local video store (video verite on Mississippi Ave), they ask me about my new baby.

I'm allowed to post rants once a fiscal quarter.