The Chainlink

When a website that claims to be promoting local cycling in the city of Chicago has a banner ad for a site which is one of the many internet discount outlets that make it hard for local bike shops.

Way to go Chainlink, bravo.  Is the advertising dollar worth making things harder on the local shops here in Chicago?

Is this site about serving the local community or is it about being a profit center for it's owner?

Views: 6432

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Well, I think the (seemingly basic?) point is being missed here and elsewhere that the reason independent shops can't keep the sort of accessory inventory that chains and online sources can is that they aren't able to come anywhere near the necessary volume needed to be able to do so.

I know just wishing for it is not going to make it so, as most people posting here would clearly not be willing to spend a penny more than they have to, but it's not rocket science to see that local shops would be able to do higher volume and thus offer a wider selection and lower prices if more folks made an effort to purchase there and the percentage of good purchased by Chicagoland cyclists from national chains and e-tailers were less.

And this gets back to the central question of how our buying decisions determine the options that are ultimately available to us locally. 

I'd be interested in an informed response David's question as to why independent shops in other countries seem better able to offer a selection of accessories.

Joel said:

When all other factors are equal, price tends to be the deciding one.  I feel a local shop can provide a few important advantages,

1. Immediacy: walk out with the product in minutes

2. Service: recommendations, installation, tuning

3. Trying it: you can actually handle the product to check it out

Of course, they don't always provide these.  If the product isn't in stock, they have to order it, call me, and then I get to go pick it up.  If I order online, it ships to my door and saves me time.  Service?  For some things it really matters.  Getting a bike properly setup and fit is important.  Installing an accessory?  Usually less so -- especially since it is rarely free and something I can do myself.  It is easier to compare headlights online and they are trivial to install.  There are some things that you really need to check out in person: clothes, bags, helmets, and probably others.  Physical stores clearly win out here, unless of course they don't have anything in stock.  

So if people are looking for nice commuter stuff, what do they do?  You say it isn't possible for the stores to keep stuff in stock, so the store loses their only real advantages over online retailers -- with or without cost savings.  The store is reduced to a middle man for a online store.  

notoriousDUG said:

But then it makes me sad to see people buy anything online vs. a brick and mortar store.  It also makes me sad to see people shop by price and nothing else.

I'm not tired of it, and I have no doubt there are people reading this thread who've never read or participated in such a discussion.


Michael B said:

The arguments for and against online stores versus conventional retailing is as old as the internet & is frankly tired.

+1

Joe Sak said:

A lot of people, especially Julie, work very hard to keep this site free and relevant for us. Maybe local shops like Rapid Transit would like to sponsor her efforts, so she doesn't have to resort to ads from cheap online anti-LBS services, and local shops can keep a voice here.

Not only does Julie, with little computer knowledge, work extra hard on this web site (she has advisors and help with the technical detail) but she works hard on real-life events that keep us hanging out as well. And she does it on top of a full time job.

Volunteering alone is hard, so I can't imagine being the president of a group with close to 7,000 members and managing all the details that go along with it. Your opinion about supporting local business is totally valid, but with all due respect, I think anyone unhappy with how Julie gets financial support should be ready to put their money where their mouth is.

But hey, maybe this has already been said. Cheers and happy new year to all!

I don't think you read the post correctly.  SAME product at 1/2 the cost.  And, I'm buying from another US shop.  I have friends and bike shops in IL, TX, FL.  Am I screwing my FL bike shop when I buy from a shop here?



Daniel G said:

Your enthusiasm for this "obligation", as you describe it, will not make you (or anyone you know) wealthy. Go ahead and watch your neighborhood fall apart as local businesses shutter their doors one-by-one and tax revenues spiral. And better pray that your treasured globalized economy is able to keep your millions of tractor-trailers full of plastic crap on the interstates when gasoline hits nine dollars. Your attitude is pessimistic conservatism and nothing more. Citizens protect and support their neighbors. Consumers pursue aggressively their so-called obligation to sit on their pile of greenbacks and jealously guard it against all invasion. Unless you are so foolish as to be actually waiting for the money you send to Bentonville, AR to trickle back down to Logan Square, this is not an economic philosophy. Just short-sighted selfishness.

in it to win it said:

I have an obligation to get my bike stuff at the best price possible.  If BIKE NASHBAR or BIKESDIRECT get me the same product at 1/2 the cost, it is my obligation to me to keep my $$ in my account.

See, you and I disagree about what obligation means.

I understand the dilemma very well, and my point is that local bike shops have to compete somehow because they aren't going to be able to do it on price and stock alone.  

Being able to compete with the selection of Amazon is going to be nearly impossible for any local retailer, even a huge one, so the local places are going to have to compete in other ways -- my original point.  If a huge, big box-sized store were to open, would it make people happy?  A place large enough to compete with the e-tailers in terms of selection and prices?  A Home Depot of bikes.  There might only be one or two in the city because it takes a lot of space and can serve a wide area.  Because the prices are low, it might really hurt some of the smaller local business -- but remember, this giant is still local even if none of the other locals can compete on selection or price.  Would you be happy?  Or would people complain that this giant store killed off a bunch of small local bike shops?   


h' said:

Well, I think the (seemingly basic?) point is being missed here and elsewhere that the reason independent shops can't keep the sort of accessory inventory that chains and online sources can is that they aren't able to come anywhere near the necessary volume needed to be able to do so.

I know just wishing for it is not going to make it so, as most people posting here would clearly not be willing to spend a penny more than they have to, but it's not rocket science to see that local shops would be able to do higher volume and thus offer a wider selection and lower prices if more folks made an effort to purchase there and the percentage of good purchased by Chicagoland cyclists from national chains and e-tailers were less.

And this gets back to the central question of how our buying decisions determine the options that are ultimately available to us locally. 

I'd be interested in an informed response David's question as to why independent shops in other countries seem better able to offer a selection of accessories.

Sorry you feel that way but I have never in the past gotten a much in the way of a response when trying to talk to Julie directly.

Adam "Cezar" Jenkins said:

I understand your sentiment Dug, but the way you said it was assholish and trollish. It's full of anger, sarcasm, and unfair accusations. 

I had thought better of you. I really did.

I think you owe an apology to Julie. You could have emailed her and asked instead of trolling your way about it. I think she would have changed it for you, or eased your concerns. Even publicly you could have been tactful about it, but you weren't, you were and ass.

I am seriously disappointed in you.

You do know you have just described the entire internet, right?

Craig S. said:

 fun to witness but also a big waste of time.



Daniel G said:

Your enthusiasm for this "obligation", as you describe it, will not make you (or anyone you know) wealthy. Go ahead and watch your neighborhood fall apart as local businesses shutter their doors one-by-one and tax revenues spiral. And better pray that your treasured globalized economy is able to keep your millions of tractor-trailers full of plastic crap on the interstates when gasoline hits nine dollars. Your attitude is pessimistic conservatism and nothing more. Citizens protect and support their neighbors. Consumers pursue aggressively their so-called obligation to sit on their pile of greenbacks and jealously guard it against all invasion. Unless you are so foolish as to be actually waiting for the money you send to Bentonville, AR to trickle back down to Logan Square, this is not an economic philosophy. Just short-sighted selfishness.

At some point, the price difference is large enough between an online store and your LBS that unless you're independently wealthy, it becomes very difficult to justify buying at the LBS.  A lot of it varies based on income levels, but I think most people would be okay with a 10% or 20% premium to get something now.  However, once the difference goes above that, I'd think it would get very difficult to justify especially if you're trying to make ends meet.
Interestingly, no one has really mentioned one of the prime factors in price differences between online and retail in IL and in Chicago specifically.  Namely, the fact that most online places don't charge sales tax on orders.  People are supposed to declare it on their state income tax forms and pay the use tax but the vast majority don't.  Changing this would probably do a lot to help local retail.

Ah, not entirely so.  There's a lot of great things about the internet, like how I was able to screw my VW dealer out of outrageous charges to replace a battery in my car key because I found a way to do it myself, and not to mention all the free porn!


notoriousDUG said:

You do know you have just described the entire internet, right?

Craig S. said:

 fun to witness but also a big waste of time.

Here's the thing; I would have posted this regardless of me working at a bike shop or not.  This is not me speaking on behalf of Rapid Transit or as their employee; this is me speaking as myself and a member of the bicycle community in Chicago.  When I post specials or things in stock at Rapid of course part of that is promoting where I work but part of it is also helping people to get what they need and get it at a good price.  I subscribe to the ideal that a good shop is going to help you even if it is not going to serve them directly. When people are looking for stuff we don't have on hand and I know of a shop likely to do so I send them to a shop I think will have what they want if they cannot wait for an order to come in or are eager to see it before purchasing.  I do this because I would rather see the money spent here, at a local shop, than go to an online retailer. 

I have owned a business before and have a deep appreciation for what running and managing a small business entails.  Keeping people paid at a reasonable wage, providing benefits, and keeping bills paid in a sluggish economy is amazingly hard and it becomes even harder when you have to compete with companies who do not need skilled mechanics and sales people because all they need is a few guys to pull and ship orders.  Has it ever occurred to you that the issue is not that your LBS has abnormally high prices but that online retailers have abnormally low prices? 

Just curious but how old are you Brendan?  Do you remember a time before everything was easy to buy in the internet?  Or even a time before the advent of big box stores?  I do remember when being able to get things online was a new thing and the whole big benefit of it was that it was the CHEAP option.

I do not think it is better to buy local because of some utopian ideal; I feel it is better to buy local because I have seen people loose once thriving shops to the online market.  I feel it is better to buy local, at locally owned businesses because I would rather the dollar I spend on something stay in Chicago.  Let me ask you this, in this tough economy and terrible job market are you doing Chicago any good buy sending your dollars out of state? 

You know I could say the exact same about what I see from you being the same old same old but I expect that; people is people you know?  What am I suddenly going to wake up another person?

Brendan said:

Yeah, depending on how you look at it, it can take some balls to risk yours and the shop you work at's reputation with starting a thread as banal as this.  It's just a typical inflammatory internet message board post designed to enrage it's readers, and at best an attempt to drive some business to his boss' hurting shop.          

The only thing that's sad here is that I'm posting in this thread.  In a time when finding a job is at one of the hardest in history, dug attempted to construct a flimsy argument about how we should all buy our cycling gear at LBS' despite their abnormally high prices, and feel bad about ourselves when we don't.  His evidence that buying solely from LBS' is best for us and the city goes no deeper than some vague utopian ideal.    

I would like to think dug isn't a troll and is merely clueless on how to frame a rational argument, but as others have said, this is just more of the same I've seen from him since I joined this site.  

Steel Driver said:

 Thanks to DUG for the courage to post this thread.  He has inadvertently provided an important PSA, illuminating our community of the opportunity to properly support local bike driving, AKA Chainlink.  I think I ran a stop sign in that last sentence.

Ducking the tax is a huge part of the issue.  It is again saving money at the expense of your own local economy.

S said:



Daniel G said:

Your enthusiasm for this "obligation", as you describe it, will not make you (or anyone you know) wealthy. Go ahead and watch your neighborhood fall apart as local businesses shutter their doors one-by-one and tax revenues spiral. And better pray that your treasured globalized economy is able to keep your millions of tractor-trailers full of plastic crap on the interstates when gasoline hits nine dollars. Your attitude is pessimistic conservatism and nothing more. Citizens protect and support their neighbors. Consumers pursue aggressively their so-called obligation to sit on their pile of greenbacks and jealously guard it against all invasion. Unless you are so foolish as to be actually waiting for the money you send to Bentonville, AR to trickle back down to Logan Square, this is not an economic philosophy. Just short-sighted selfishness.

At some point, the price difference is large enough between an online store and your LBS that unless you're independently wealthy, it becomes very difficult to justify buying at the LBS.  A lot of it varies based on income levels, but I think most people would be okay with a 10% or 20% premium to get something now.  However, once the difference goes above that, I'd think it would get very difficult to justify especially if you're trying to make ends meet.
Interestingly, no one has really mentioned one of the prime factors in price differences between online and retail in IL and in Chicago specifically.  Namely, the fact that most online places don't charge sales tax on orders.  People are supposed to declare it on their state income tax forms and pay the use tax but the vast majority don't.  Changing this would probably do a lot to help local retail.

I don't get to decide where Rapid sends it's money and, as I said before, I would be saying this stuff regardless of me working in a shop or not.  I have been pushing local bike shops over online shops for as long as I have been a member here.

I'd like to donate here, and a lot of other places, but have you seen what they pay bike shop employees?

Joe Sak said:

A lot of people, especially Julie, work very hard to keep this site free and relevant for us. Maybe local shops like Rapid Transit would like to sponsor her efforts, so she doesn't have to resort to ads from cheap online anti-LBS services, and local shops can keep a voice here.

Not only does Julie, with little computer knowledge, work extra hard on this web site (she has advisors and help with the technical detail) but she works hard on real-life events that keep us hanging out as well. And she does it on top of a full time job.

Volunteering alone is hard, so I can't imagine being the president of a group with close to 7,000 members and managing all the details that go along with it. Your opinion about supporting local business is totally valid, but with all due respect, I think anyone unhappy with how Julie gets financial support should be ready to put their money where their mouth is.

But hey, maybe this has already been said. Cheers and happy new year to all!

RSS

© 2008-2016   The Chainlink Community, L.L.C.   Powered by

Disclaimer  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service