LBS v. Internet

I did something the other day that I’m having second thoughts about. 

I wanted to get a Superflash for my son’s bike.  Just like last night, I wanted to make sure he had a good light in case he got caught somewhere after dark.

So I did a quick search on the ‘net and found an Ebay seller that has them for just under $20, shipped.  Then I went out to Pedal Pushers.  They had them in stock for $27.  I grimmaced a little and explained my dilemma.  Jim brought the price down a few bucks, but explained that he couldn’t match $20.  That was good enough for me, figuring it was worth a few bucks difference not having to worry about mail order, and the whole instant gratification thing.  Plus, I was giving my LBS some business.

Here’s the rub.  No one is getting rich by selling bicycles.  Pedal Pushers is a great shop and has treated me really, really well; and I wonder if asking them to lower the price was the right thing.  The alternative would have been not to buy the light from them at all.

Did I do the right thing?

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10 responses to “LBS v. Internet

  1. That’s a tough call, and there’s probably no black and white solution. On one hand, money talks, and the bigger the difference the harder is to spend the money locally. On the other, the Pedal Pusher is a wonderful little shop. I think I would have dropped the $27. However, with a much more expensive item and the same percentage difference, mail order starts to look really attractive.

    I have narrowed my mail ordering down to a few shops – primarily VO, Niagara and Rivendell. These guys seem to be local somewhere and the service has been really good from all of them. I won’t order from Gnashbar or Jenson or similar businesses unless no one else has what I want.

    The kicker? If the Pedal Pusher ever closes, there’s no way in hell I’m spending my money at Holmes. I’ll buy every little part from Performance before they get another dime.

  2. ‘good to hear from you Scott. If Pedal Pushers ever closes, I’m opening a shop! Somehow, someway, that’s what I’ll do.

    Not 30 minutes ago I was walking along 3rd in front of the Capitol and a green LHT passed. I thought it might be you, but I guess not…unless you’re posting from a cell phone.

    54 or 56 cm frame, Nitto front rack, silver fenders, and a very content smile.

  3. You have no idea how many times I’ve told myself that I should just open my own shop.

    Wasn’t me on 3rd. Home with the girls. And mine’s a 58 with smooth VO fenders. No racks mounted yet, but soon.

  4. I did see on Craigslist a few months back that there is some guy working out of a garage over your way, but I don’t know much more than that.

    My shop will also be in NC according to the business plan in my head.

    VO fenders! You need to update your blog one of these days.

  5. Having my own small business……I don’t discount my prices very often if ever.

    One exception might possibly be to take care of a “rainmaker” (someone who sends me tons of referrals) but other than that you are gonna pay my very reasonable fees or look elsewhere.

    That’s the Great American Way 🙂

    (I woulda payed what the guy was asking for the blinkie….everyone has gotta eat)

  6. Need a mechanic?

    The guy in NC is in the vicinity of 5th and Bridge and appears to be open at odd hours doing on-the-spot repairs. Last year there were rumors that he was trying to open a full time shop and possibly carry a major bike brand. Kona comes to mind, but I’m not sure. And it’s all rumors anyway.

  7. Found this: http://harrisburg.craigslist.org/bik/1286513632.html

    also: http://bike-whisperer.com/

    I wonder if the first guy was with Busheys?

    If we open “Pedal Pushers West”, you’re the chief wrench!

  8. I have never asked an LBS to match a price. If I want something right away or want to support the LBS, I’ll pay what they’re asking, so long as it’s reasonable. If some online place has a better price and I’m willing to wait, I’ll go that route.

    In practice, I end up ordering a lot of stuff online because I’m picky, and a lot of the items I want aren’t available locally. Though sometimes I’ll have an LBS order something for me.

  9. Thanks for your comments. Looking back on it now, I think it was mainly force of habit. Being a P/T musician, it’s common practice for local shops to also sell gear on-line and match each others posted prices. Guitar Center is a national chain with a big web presence, and the smaller shops readily will adjust their prices to compete. Wrays even used to have a “built-in” discount depending on your buying record, so you’d have to ask “how much does this really cost?”
    The other thing was when I was importing rowing oars from Lithuania back in the 80’s, I would routinely haggle and discount just to get my foot in the door.
    I guess I’ll cease the practice with PP. After all, if they want to drop the price, they will; and for all the business I give them, I’m sure they’ll get that couple of bucks back soon enough.

  10. late to the dance, as usual, but Jim would not have cut out the profit … just cut it low enough to make you, Ted, Jay or whomever reasonably satisfied. Best bike shop ever, and a real model for good retail.

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