I like the idea of being able to get what I need at the Local Bike Shop (LBS). I know I can get better prices online but it’s nice to be able to walk into a LBS, get what I need, and use it the same or next day if I want to. Plus it supports the little guy and the local economy. Since I’ve moved back to Florida, though, I’ve gotten more and more upset with the LBS’ here. Here’s why.
A couple of months ago I was in need of an external crank arm fixing bolt. I went to the only LBS in town that sold Specialized bikes and they sold me the wrong kind. I went to another shop looking for a new headlight around the same time. They had just one in stock that would fit my bars. I only bought it because he offered me a 20% discount. Not long ago I was looking for a cycling cap to wear under my helmet. I visited no less than four LBS’ (and one out of town) and not one had a cycling cap in stock. How can a cycling store not stock a cycling cap? I had similar problems when I was looking for a new seat post not long ago.
This past week I was in the hunt for a new saddle. Before I dropped $100-$150 on a saddle (that may not even work because saddles are so personal) I thought I would try a WTB Speed V Comp because they got good reviews and because Bike Noob put in a good word for it with his review. They’re only $40 too. So I headed off to my favorite LBS because I knew they had a WTB test ride program.
I arrive at the LBS and head to their saddle test ride display. On their display they make it a point that they are part of the WTB test ride program where you can rent a saddle for $10 a week to test before you buy. They’ve got about 6 different WTB saddles on display with each having custom ‘test ride’ graphics on them. In other words, the display shows the LBS’ commitment to the WTB saddle test ride program. In my opinion.
I look for the Speed V Comp and can’t find it. Well, that immediately blows my plan out of the water to test it first. Because the saddle is only $40, I wouldn’t mind dropping the cash first as long as I can bring it back for a refund and/or exchange if I don’t like it. I head over to the wall where all the saddles are to find it.
You probably already know the answer. No Speed V Comp saddle. In fact, there are no WTB saddles anywhere. I back up and give the wall a scan again just to make sure. Same result. There’s a pole to my left with some saddles on it so I look there and I find one WTB saddle. One. And it’s not the model I want. Errrrrrr.
At this point I’m like, “Are you kidding me?” They have a WTB test ride program and only have one saddle in stock? One? By this time I was a little upset and head to the front of the store to look at a couple of things before leaving. One of the sales guys heads over and asks me if he can help me with anything. I ask him about the saddles and he says, “Yeah, we have the WTB test saddles but we mainly sell Bontrager stuff.” No kidding. I left.
That evening I found the WTB Speed V Comp at Nashbar on sale for $19.99. I got the saddle and a Camelback Podium bottle for $4.99 and still paid less than the full saddle price including shipping.
Am I The Problem?
After having the weekend to think about this I’ve begin to wonder if I’m the problem. Am I being too hard on the local bike shops in expecting they have stuff in stock? I know the economy is bad and their business is down but don’t they still want to sell stuff? I became really spoiled when I was in Dallas and had the palace of bike shops available in Richardson Bike Mart. I don’t have that here and it’s getting frustrating.
Am I being too hard on the LBS? Are you experiencing the same thing where you’re at?