Cycling in Melbourne Australia
On the weekend I bought a new pair of NorthWave cycling sunnies from Vuelta Cycles in St Kilda for $90, only to find them on the web for $52 (with free shipping) only a few hours later. It doesn’t feel good to be ripped of to the tune of almost $40, but I’m wondering if I should calm myself and accept the higher cost, in the knowledge that I’ve supported my LBS? I like to see our bike shops doing well and I feel sad when I hear that times are tough for some because of the huge shift to online shopping – but what are we, as consumers, to do? Get ripped off like me on the weekend, or go for the online bargain? I can handle paying a few extra dollars for a sale in person, but this seems excessive, and it might be the last straw for me. I even has another shop recently quote me $80 for a Conti Gator Skin tyre – which you can get for about $50 online. How do others feel? Should we buy from our LBS to support the local cycling economy, or should we save ourselves serious $’s and go online?
I want to support a few of the LBSs in my area, but not at the expense of going broke in the process.
I don't think it's the LBS's fault ... most things imported into Australia, especially it seems in the bike industry, go through an extra set of hands compared to buying from sites like Wiggle, Ribble or PBK. This means the LBS is probably buying a bit better than you are online, but is then sticking his margin on top - he's entitled to make a living & pay his rent.
I've developed relationships with a couple of LBSs - Abbotsford Cycles are the best example - that are quite happy for me to bring in parts that I've bought online and then charge me an hourly rate for doing the work (that I'm not capable of doing at home).
There's at least one bike store in SE Melbourne (I'm not going to name them, but they're on Dandenong Rd in Carnegie) where you'll almost be chased out of the shop if you even say the word "Internet". Needless to say, they don't get any of my business.
I tend to buy things in qualtity online, eg: half a dozen tubes and a couple of tires, so that I don't get caught short. But if I need a something, it's not sitting on my garage shelf and I can't wait the week or so to get it from OS, it's straight to the LBS (usually Abbotsford Cycles) to pay the local price for it.
I have a small business in the bike industry & buy a lot of parts wholesale from various distributors. Quite often I am asked for an item - most recently a workstand - which I know sells online (eBay) for less than I can get it wholesale, so I just don't carry it, I can't rip people off when I know they can get it elsewhere for a huge discount. If it was just a few percent & the postage costs blow it out, I wouldn't hesitate, but sometimes rrp is up to 3 times the cost online. Don't blame the shops; yes some will be overpriced, but more often than not it is the wholesalers making the big markup. For many years we have been a captive market & suddenly things have changed and there is direct competition; it will take the market a little while to sort itself out, some businesses will go under & others will adjust. Shops have a lot of overheads, staff costs are often bigger than O's; What will set a good shop apart will the level of service; I recently bought a new MTB for $2500, so the shop benefits, & they service a lot of bikes too. But accessories/parts? Forget it! Buy online & save, let the industry sort itself out & eventually the gap b/w online and local pricing will not be so glaring - that's capitalism at work, like it or not!
Remember, all of the protectionist policies of governments over the last century have been at the behest of industry, and now there is real competition they are squealing - I'm looking at you, Harvey!
It's a bit harsh to describe it as being ripped off. Online shopping involves little cost to the merchant as they just need a warehouse and a computer. sometimes just run out of their house in their spare time.
your LBS has to pay for rent in the main street, all utilities and pay staff to be there every day. Hard to compete really.
keep in mind that the advantage to shopping in the real world is that you actually get to see and try out the thing you are buying, plus you can talk to the staff in the shop and get some advice. If you bought the sunglasses online and found that they didn't suit you, you can't do much about it. (and you have to hope they are honest)
Also, you get to walk out the door with your stuff, not wait up to a fortnight for it.
When we decided to build a second Xtracycle, Dirt Works had just stopped importing them, so there was very little new stock around.
However, what we purchased online was still better than what we could have got at the current retail price of $800.00 for the basic Free Rad kit; that is, sub-frame, racks, bags, topdeck - that's all.
But for $800.00 delivered via Fed Ex to our door we got: sub-frame, racks, bags, 2 topdecks, and a Pea Pod child carrier - all for the same price!!
I was in discussion with Human Powered Cycles at the time, and they freely acknowledged that the RRP was a mark-up/not sustainable and not equitable. In the end, they were very happy to assist with me with the build, for which I paid them the requisite hourly workshop rate.
Exactly, HPC can expect you to come back for servicing/repair or small accessories - they are providing a good service but missed out on the original sale, probably due to a markup by their supplier that is just greedy. !00% markups are pretty much the minimum - one of my suppliers lists the markups to RRP (for the retailer) of up to 360% (that is an exceptional one though), so who knows what their markup is! As I say, buy your bikes from the LBS, get your bike serviced by them or a mobile mechanic, but for accessories shop around - the system will sort itself out over time through competition and suppliers will have to adjust their prices. The bike industry is having all sorts of conferences and discussions about the issue but the bottom line they will have to bring prices closer to their online competitors - remember, they are benefiting from the high dollar too!
Jim, many of the issues you mention are true, but often also apply to shopping locally too! Caveat Emptor!