I was reading an interesting piece about struggles within the bike industry when I happened upon the phrase “Reversal of Trust.” In addition to being a great expression, independent of its meaning (and being a great name for an ’80s hardcore band), in the piece, “Reversal of Trust” describes the process by which bike shop customers stopped trusting their local bike shop and put their trust in on-line retailers.
Much of this process, it seems, has been price driven. If a on-line retailer can sell a product for 30-50% off, then the price the local shop are asking is clearly extortionate, and if they are willing to overcharge for this one thing, one would be foolish to pay their prices for anything. Further, if I can’t trust them to charge a reasonable price, I can’t trust them to advise me on needed repairs.
Writing purely from a consumer’s point-of-view, you might read this as the Internet creating more independent and well-informed consumers, and they may be true to an extent. The problem from the LBS’s standpoint is that they are paying higher wholesales in many cases than their on-line competition AND higher overheads, because they maintain a presence (and pay taxes) in their local communities.*
This week’s Group Ride asks, have you experienced this “reversal of trust” from either the shop side or the customer side? When did it happen? Do you think it was price-driven? Relatedly, do you participate in any activities or events put on by your local shop? Is there ANYTHING that takes you through their doors?
* I should own my bias here, as many of my day job customers and friends own bike shops or work in them.
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