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?

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Very well said, thank you.

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.

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.

Bikerumor - Amazon vs LBS by Mike Sinyard (Specialized)

Interesting article and letter the founder of Specialized wrote to his dealers.

Gives a little perspective on how the state of retail online shopping is effecting the LBS, and all retail outlets.

Watch the video. That accounts for 25% of shoppers these days whether it's an LBS, KMART, or Radio Shack. 

Remember, the letter is written to the dealers, not the customer. It is written with the purpose of how to limit the possibility of losing customers to online outlets. 

And then read the comments section, it's an entertaining continuation of this thread.

BRAIN article on Sinyard's letter

Here is another write up on BRAIN (Bicycle Retailer and Industry News)

Dug, you can't even pitch in a few dollars with a one time donation to this site that you spend so much time on and benefit in various ways from, yet you have no problem haranguing others about bailing out their local bike shop when it doesn't make sense for them to do so?  Pardon my French, but what the fuck is that?

Also, despite what you may like to project, the economy is light years away from living and dying on the money that is spent at local bike shops.  And if your business is in danger of closing or hurting for customers, there are better ways to attract and keep new customers than to attempt to guilt trip people into visiting your shop out of pity.  It doesn't take someone with gray hairs on their head or who has owned a small business in the past to know this.        

Since your argument is really nothing more than a cliche, here is another one for you.  It's a dog eat dog world out there.  People will spend their money where they choose, and I think until cycling becomes a bigger part of this countries primary mode of transportation, for example, patronizing a LBS will (and maybe even should?) remain decidedly low on the average consumers list on where to spend their increasingly limited funds.  

A lot of people that see me in the last year or so have asked "What happened to you?" in large part because I haven't posted on the Chainlink much, comment rarely on forums, and generally limit my responses to those I am asked to participate in as a moderator (yes....still) of this site. I still post my events, look at forum posts, check out what else is going on and read a lot of what is happening in our community via the site.  But undoubtedly, I am less active on the Chainlink.

Here is why. 

I have done my best to avoid conflict amongst cyclists.  I have grown weary of cyclists bitching about cyclists and I have lost enthusiasm for being an internet cop.  I have done a lot of site moderating in my days and it has finally started to wear a bit thin.  Commenting on threads that I might later have to help moderate has added to this feeling, and harsh comments I have made to others have come back to haunt me by making me realize that I am part of this problem. 

Having said all that, I will offer the following.

The Chainlink is still a great website.  I still use it all the time, but I just use it differently.  It is run by someone that has done a great deal for Chicago cycling.  Julie structured the advertising to be cheaper for local companies and by way of looking at the advertising, the vast majority of the advertisers are local businesses. Rapid Transit or any local bike store that wanted similar exposure could make very moderate investments to reach their target audience by choosing to be advertisers.  In fact, the pitch of reaching thousands of cyclists in the Chicago area is pretty compelling if you are a local bicycle-based business.

From the formation of the Chainlink by Leah, Julie was always there and always involved.  It made sense that she would be the one to take it all on when Leah moved on, and I commend her for doing it.  Along the way, the Chainlink has changed and evolved, just as my use of the site has changed and evolved too.  We advertise on the site, even though we get relatively few "chainlinkers" coming to our rides beyond our hardcore followers that seem to be involved in ALL levels of Chicago cycling. 

Why?  Because the work Julie does is important, worthy of recognition and worthy of financial support. The work that has gone into building the Chainlink has been immense and the value of the site dwarfs the money she gets from it.  I like that it is free to use and join, and I support her decision to try to earn something from all of her hard work.  Rapid Transit, as a random example, has been a VERY regular user of the site to promote (for free) their workshops, specials, sales and the like, all of which would be impossible without her efforts.  If anything, it might be nice to see them do a bit of advertising to help grow their business, AND give back a bit to a business (the Chainlink) that have helped grow their business, but I digress.

Julie, thanks for everything.  Thank you for continuing your efforts on the Chainlink and your efforts to make this a welcome place for all.  Thank you for letting me be involved the ways you have, and thank you for doing what you do.  I applaud you for all of this and for creating an advertising system where it is less expensive to advertise if you are a local business.  I truly hope that more shops and vendors in Chicago will join in and do a bit of advertising themselves and I would love nothing more than for enough of them doing it to make your life more comfortable. If in the process Performance, Trek, bikesdirect.com or whomever wants to pay a premium to throw a banner ad on the site, so be it.  I'm glad the checks you will be cashing from them will be a bit bigger.

Good day.

Lee

So you work for a company that doesn't pay you enough to support this site, and the company doesn't support this site; yet you complain that the site gets support from others?  Maybe if local companies were willing to provide support they wouldn't rely on other places for it.  

But why would you or your company provide financial support for a local cycling website when you can post everything for free anyway?  


notoriousDUG said:

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?

Not sure what the problem is with Doug or anyone else posting about what's going on at their shops.

Frankly it baffles me that more shop folks don't weigh in on the various topics, or speak up when someone is looking for something to say they have it-- especially this time of year when things are slow at the shop. Thanks to those who do.

If there is now an expectation that one would be obligated to pay to post things like the wheel building special (which I hope there isn't), it needs to be clearly stated.


Joel said:

So you work for a company that doesn't pay you enough to support this site, and the company doesn't support this site; yet you complain that the site gets support from others?  Maybe if local companies were willing to provide support they wouldn't rely on other places for it.  

But why would you or your company provide financial support for a local cycling website when you can post everything for free anyway?  


notoriousDUG said:

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?

I don't see the big deal about Dug or anyone else posting about stuff going on at their shops. In fact, I think that's a good thing for a site that makes information available to the cycling community. I'm glad he did post about the wheel building special, I probably wouldn't have found out about it otherwise. I'm definitely going to get some wheels built.

Having local shops post stuff isn't a problem, it is the attitude from Doug.  If local shops would provide the support for the site, there wouldn't be the need for online retailer advertisements.  As it stands, there apparently isn't enough support from the local community so other sources are needed.  Instead, Doug complains that the site runs ads he doesn't like, while neither he nor his shop of choice/employment are supporting it.   

h' said:

Not sure what the problem is with Doug or anyone else posting about what's going on at their shops.

Frankly it baffles me that more shop folks don't weigh in on the various topics, or speak up when someone is looking for something to say they have it-- especially this time of year when things are slow at the shop. Thanks to those who do.

If there is now an expectation that one would be obligated to pay to post things like the wheel building special (which I hope there isn't), it needs to be clearly stated.


Joel said:

So you work for a company that doesn't pay you enough to support this site, and the company doesn't support this site; yet you complain that the site gets support from others?  Maybe if local companies were willing to provide support they wouldn't rely on other places for it.  

But why would you or your company provide financial support for a local cycling website when you can post everything for free anyway?  


notoriousDUG said:

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?

I don't either, and that's not anyone's issue here.  It's just people pointing out blatant hypocrisy.  Employee's and owners posting happenings or sales is one of the reasons I like this place as much as I do.  It'd be really hard to have a heads up on such a wide variety of goings-on without this place.

Vando said:

I don't see the big deal about Dug or anyone else posting about stuff going on at their shops. In fact, I think that's a good thing for a site that makes information available to the cycling community. I'm glad he did post about the wheel building special, I probably wouldn't have found out about it otherwise. I'm definitely going to get some wheels built.

The reason people from shops do not post much is because it ends up with something like this,  In fact up until recently, because it appeared you and others wanted to hear from people in shops, I tried to avoid making it known I worked at a bike shop for a variety of reasons.

If I were just some a-hole with a bike this thread would not have exploded to anywhere near the degree that it has.

h' said:

Not sure what the problem is with Doug or anyone else posting about what's going on at their shops.

Frankly it baffles me that more shop folks don't weigh in on the various topics, or speak up when someone is looking for something to say they have it-- especially this time of year when things are slow at the shop. Thanks to those who do.

If there is now an expectation that one would be obligated to pay to post things like the wheel building special (which I hope there isn't), it needs to be clearly stated.


Joel said:

So you work for a company that doesn't pay you enough to support this site, and the company doesn't support this site; yet you complain that the site gets support from others?  Maybe if local companies were willing to provide support they wouldn't rely on other places for it.  

But why would you or your company provide financial support for a local cycling website when you can post everything for free anyway?  


notoriousDUG said:

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?

What hypocrisy?

Brendan said:

I don't either, and that's not anyone's issue here.  It's just people pointing out blatant hypocrisy.  Employee's and owners posting happenings or sales is one of the reasons I like this place as much as I do.  It'd be really hard to have a heads up on such a wide variety of goings-on without this place.

Vando said:

I don't see the big deal about Dug or anyone else posting about stuff going on at their shops. In fact, I think that's a good thing for a site that makes information available to the cycling community. I'm glad he did post about the wheel building special, I probably wouldn't have found out about it otherwise. I'm definitely going to get some wheels built.

I actually make a competitive wage for a bike mechanic; it's sadly not an industry that pays well and there is no sign of that getting better anytime soon.

I am going to say this again, and in bold, for those of you who seem unable or unwilling to read and acknowledge it:

MY OPINION ON THIS MATTER HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MY EMPLOYMENT AT A BIKE SHOP!!!

If I worked at a coffee shop, auto shop or sat at home on the public dole I would have made exactly the same post.  My feelings on this subject have been the same for several years before I ever worked at a bike shop.

Joel said:

So you work for a company that doesn't pay you enough to support this site, and the company doesn't support this site; yet you complain that the site gets support from others?  Maybe if local companies were willing to provide support they wouldn't rely on other places for it.  

But why would you or your company provide financial support for a local cycling website when you can post everything for free anyway?  


notoriousDUG said:

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?

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