Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I want to shop locally, really I do. We try to do this in our family as often as is reasonable. When we refinished our bathroom, we went to a local vendor for tile and fixturex, rather than heading over to our local big box hardware store. When I get to hankerin' for a sandwhich or a burger, I'll generally head to one of the local joints when I can, rather than hitting one of the chains.
But my local bike shops are just killing me. A perfect example occurred just yesterday. I was out running errands and decided to stop in at a local shop. I have been shopping for tires for the Moab on line recently, but I've stopped short of actually pulling the trigger on a purchase because I have fully intended to give my money to one of the local shops. So, after a quick cruise of the shop to check out the bikes, I find the tires. As expected, selection is fairly limited, but I find a couple brands that I recognize and even a couple of styles that I like - I'm ready to buy! I begin this routine where I try to make it appear as if I'm checking out the item I'm considering purchasing more closely, but in reality I'm trying to locate the price tag. I'm tipping the box this way, and then that way - over and over trying to find the price. Now, it might just be my imagination, but I'm fairly convinced that the shop guys deliberately try to hide the price tags in order to encourage impulse buying. I mean, the tires are all in boxes which have big tabs on top of them that allow them to be hung from pegs. Wouldn't that tab be a perfectly logical place to put the price sticker? But instead, they are generally on the bottom of the box, or on the back of the box up-side-down, forcing me to completely remove the box from the hook in order to find and decipher it. Once I finally located the hidden price tag, I was completely deflated. The prices were all about 3 times greater then the prices I was able to find the same tires for on line. What gives? I know, I know, I know! I know a store front costs more to maintain than a website. I know there are electric bills to pay and insurance premiums and employees and business licenses, and whatever else. I know. I fully expect to pay more for things at my local shop than I would on the internet. But triple the price? Literally, had I purchased those two tires from my local bike shop it would have cost me $120, before the extra 10.25% I get to tack on for living in Chicago. I can get the exact same two tires from nashbar.com for just about $40, shipped.
I'm sorry. I love my local bike shops. There are few things more enjoyable than walking into the shop smelling all that new bikeness. The smell of tires and chain lube and fresh paint, drooling over all the shiney new bikes lined up so nicely on the shop floor. Or actually getting to hold and inspect the items I am intending to buy before I buy them. But triple the price? I'm sorry. Once the price difference becomes that significant, the foolishness I'd feel for paying it outweighs the guilt I feel when I make that purchase on-line.
COME ON, local bike shop owner. Help me, help you.