Tuesday, February 22, 2011

expletive deleted, part two

Another day, another customer. This time, a longtime customer who brings in a printout from an online source based right here in our adorable hipster paradise, asks if we can special order the item and then asks if we can match the price.
Online retailer's price for said item is $64.00.
While customer cools his heels out front I research the item in the ordering office.
Our wholesale price determines that we would have to sell the item for $76.00; we can't even come close to price-matching without cutting off several body parts and giving up most of our margin on the item.
I tell the customer we can order the item for him but that we cannot match price. Longtime custoemr shocks me by saying he'll buy the item here, and asks me to special-order it for him. At our price.
I'm pleased, but also more than a little confounded. With the outcome of this sort of interaction growing increasingly hard to predict, how will brick-and-mortar bike shops like ours plan ahead?
Some days I just want to bang my head against the wall.


Marcy said...


It's the same situation for many industries these days, including the pharmacy world in which I live. As I'm sure you've noticed, mom & pop pharmacies have been driven out by large chain retail pharmacies. If independent pharmacies have found a way to exist by finding a niche in the market, such as compounding or specialty meds, they still have internet pharmacies with which to contend. With everyone struggling to make ends meet in our
current economy, it's hard to blame customers for trying to find the lowest possible price for goods and services, but it sure does make it hard to run a business.

I try to patronize my local bicycle shops as much as I can, but sometimes it's so hard if there's a huge discrepancy between the LBS and the online retailer. I try to balance my purchases and only use online for big ticket items where the difference is just too much to bear.

Ride Happy!


EvoDavo said...

I worked in a retail shop for years and we raised and lowered our prices with surprisingly little impact on our sales numbers. People do like to feel special and will usually pay for it (think Nordstrom). Giving someone a deal is one way, but there are plenty of non monetary options as well. Once Les Schwab fixes your flat for free, you can't go anywhere else...