[TheThinkTank] Bike Shop Competition

John Gatlin johngatlin at gmail.com
Wed Feb 27 15:56:35 PST 2008

Hey Cris,

We had a similar problem when we started selling cheap bicycles. When we
told our LBS who we were and what we were doing one of their employees
became pretty put-off by us and we got bad vibes whenever we went in.
However, we weren't getting parts at cost at that point. To be completely
honest with you our LBS (there's only one) never actually came out and told
us they felt threatened so it could have all been in our minds, but for a
while we definitely considered ourselves in competition with them.

But once we thought about it, they cater to a completely different audience
than we do. They sell high-end, *new* bicycles to relatively high-paying
recreational customers. The people who shop there will probably never step
foot in our doors (at least until we get a bigger, cleaner, more organized
and accommodating space). Likewise, the "customers" of our collective never
even knew of the LBS, let alone possessed the kind of money to shop there.
So, fundamentally, we really don't take any business away from them.

Also, once that employee left, the feelings of animosity sort of fell by the
wayside. We actually became pretty close friends with the head mechanic and
the owner and they've helped us out a number of times. Whenever we hold
events we take a handful of their business cards and some of their stickers
and hand them out to people who attend. Also, when someone comes to us
looking for a new part or something we can't provide, we refer them to the
LBS. I think this has helped form a good relationship between us and our
LBS, and though we don't exactly get parts at cost, we do now get heavy

There are a few things that would definitely sabotage this relationship, and
one would be selling the few things we do provide at a substantially lower
cost than they do, like tubes, patch kits, tire levers, etc. I'm sure this
can become enticing if you find a way to get them super cheap, like a
supplier, but since we get the parts from our LBS (discounted, but not at
cost) it hardly makes sense to charge cheaper than they. So however you do
obtain these items, don't sell them cheaper than your LBS, or at least don't
sell them cheaper to the general public. That's one way to directly compete
with them, and a bad way at that.

Hope this helps,

Drew Gatlin
Back In The Saddle Bike Collective

On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 5:05 PM, Cris Shirley <cgshirley at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hey!
> So we are starting a bike collective in New Haven, and had the support
> of our local bike shop Devil's Gear Bikes where the owner said that he
> would provide parts at cost and help us out on stuff.  Well, now he is
> feeling treaten because he thinks we might start moving in a direction
> that may in competition with him (right now we need some start up
> money so we are going to fix up and sell some of the bikes we have.)
> Note that we have not given one bike away yet.  So, I was wondering if
> anyone had any experiences of this sort and how they were managed?
> How do y'all get parts for bikes like cables and tubes and tires, and
> chains?
> Thanks
> cris
> On 2/25/08, Edward France <edfrance at bicicentro.org> wrote:
> > Bike Peeps - Thought about taking a weekend out in Santa Barbara?
> > This is the perfect time, and we'll do our best to find hosting for
> > cooks, clerks, wrenches, and other forms of shop creatures that travel
> > out to celebrate with us.
> >
> > Save the Date-
> >                  Dia de Bici Cultura- the Grand Opening of Bici
> > Centro's new retail/educational/shop space in Santa Barbara. April 5th
> > will mark the event with Bike Art, Bike People and Bike Fun, BBQ,
> > evening reception with dinner, and a night ride.
> >
> > After a year of once monthly repair days, months of once weekly shop,
> > and infinite hours of shuffling around our stuff to serve in a modular
> > manner, Bici Centro finds its own 1,200 sq ft. space. We've got our
> > youth Earn-a-bike churning out bikes and biking kids, community
> > support, and a solid core of 15 volunteers working to get SB cycling
> > in style.
> >
> > A more detailed invite to be sent out this week.
> >
> >  <a href='http://www.flickr.com/photos/xrudolfx/2285845544/'
> >  title='Bicicentroopening by xRUDOLFx, on Flickr'><img
> >  src='http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2366/2285845544_744700953e_b.jpg'
> >  width='1024' height='775' alt='Bicicentroopening' /></a>
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Thethinktank mailing list
> > Thethinktank at bikecollectives.org
> >
> http://lists.bikecollectives.org/listinfo.cgi/thethinktank-bikecollectives.org
> >
> >
> >
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