in praise of the LBS

Back in July, I read this post on the Albany Times-Union Bike Blog. It’s a group-edited blog, and Bob Anderson is one of the best contributors. He outlines the reasons why a cyclist should buy their bikes and gear from the Local Bike Shop instead of ordering online or buying from a big box or big sporting goods store. Basically it comes down to this: When you buy something at a place other than the LBS, you are basically voting with your dollars to no longer have an LBS. Is that worth the 5-15 % savings?  I’ll have to admit that I’ve ordered the occasional item online instead of buying a similar item at the LBS. But after reading this post, I’ve curtailed my online shopping significantly. These days, I only order something online if my LBS just doesn’t carry it.

The view from the LBS during a downpour on the day I ordered my road bike.

Spouse’s rain bike (a mid-90’s Cannondale MTB) had a little shifting problem recently. I took it to the LBS recently with the thought that I’d drop it off to be fixed and pick it up in a day or two. One of the mechanics took a look at it and said he could fix it in just a few minutes. He also pointed out that the pads on the grip shift had worn off and they could order new ones for me. I replied that it was just the rain bike, so no need to go all out for it. While the mechanic worked on the bike, I took a brief test ride on a Linus Roadster:

(The Linus is part of a wave of retro-inspired bikes that have come out recently. It’s design is very similar to my ’68 Raleigh Sports. I liked the very upright posture, and it’s a pretty good price considering that it comes with fenders, a rack and the Shimano 3-speed hub. I’d recommend taking a look at it for anyone who wants a no-nonsense city commuter bike. It’s also the right size for me, unlike my Raleigh. Hmm… maybe in a couple more years….) back to the point:

The mechanic fixed the Cannondale’s shifting cable and brought it out to me saying there was no charge. On top of that, he had wrapped some bar tape around the shifters so they would be more comfortable. It was a great little touch; something that made me say “wow, what a great shop.” Now, I’m sure that he recognized me as a regular customer and I’m guessing that not everybody gets the same treatment. But when I had a similarly small problem on one of my bikes a few months ago (before I was a real “regular” at the shop), the repair was done right away and only cost me $5. Of course, the LBS knows that by giving me this sort of service, I’m sure to remain a loyal customer. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with that.

So like I said earlier, I’m voting for this LBS with my dollars, because if it goes away, I’m pretty much shot outta luck. I could go back to ordering things online, but there’s only so many things that I can fix on my own.  There’s no other bike shop that I can walk to, and I’m lucky that this one is so good.


3 responses to “in praise of the LBS

  1. How about the name of the shop,if I’m in the area,I may stop by and check them out.

    • Paul,
      I’ve developed a sort of blogging policy of not mentioning the various Local Bike Shops by name. I don’t want my blog to show up on their google searches because I want to remain relatively anonymous. I like to get good treatment from the LBS because I’m a regular customer, not because I blog about biking and could affect their reputation one way or the other. Cyclists who live in Providence can probably tell which LBS I’m talking about just from the description, and it doesn’t really matter to people who live outside of the area. While we’re on the topic, I should probably add a disclaimer on this website that I have not received anything from any company in exchange for a review on this blog.
      I’ll email you privately to let you know the name of the shop.

  2. Yes, it is easy to recognize this LBS. I have consistently received the kind of service you describe. They treat me well, making me happy to return.

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