Local Bike Shops - Are they really doing OK?
To my shock the other day, my LBS, which I have a great rapport with, just closed. It might reopen but I fear the worst. Standing forlornly outside wailing, "I'm sorry I bought that seatpost from Wiggle", the daunting task of building a similar relationship with another shop seems like a daunting task; and there's some bad LBSs out there. This isn't an 'agony aunt' article (Therapist: What do you want to talk about?.....Me: My LBS closed down!) but got me thinking in these days of struggling high streets (council rates and internet), albeit with a booming cycling industry, just how well are LBSs doing? What drives profits? Are the chain stores taking the lions share with economy of scale? Most of the bikes you see parked up in town look like they've never seen a bike shop in years. Are the keen cyclists who spend lots of money actually a small minority? Does a LBS need a strong on-line presence, but it must be impossible to compete with the likes of Wiggle? LBS's sometimes don't help themselves when they haven't got spares etc and I hate not being able to talk to a mechanic about what work is needed, so perhaps good business sense and knowing what the customer wants is key to success just like any shop?