Friday, May 1, 2009

Support Your Local Bike Shop - If You Can

You know those Ortlieb panniers that led me into Cycling Forum Hell? I made my decision and shopped around, and found that they were indeed expensive. I called the Canadian distributor to find out which Local Bike Shop (LBS in cycling forum parlance) carried them, and came up with just one. When I called that shop (which wasn't one of my favourites) they told me the panniers would have to be ordered for me and since they didn't make regular orders from that distributor, I would have to pay for the shipping too. The price they gave me made me cringe, so I started looking online.

American online bike stores had them, but after Duty, Shipping and Taxes I was looking at roughly the same amount as having the LBS get them. If you are into cycling stuff, particularly building bikes and sourcing parts, you know this tune well. I was stuck. In the absence of other good options, I did the unthinkable. I looked in online stores from the UK and Europe.

As you may have guessed, Ortlieb is a German company, but it should be noted that they are definitely distributed worldwide, and have a strong US presence as demonstrated by

Why, then, does the pannier set I was after sell for $78 US in England and $140 US in Canada and the States, before shipping? I'm trying to understand. Surely the lower number of cyclists per capita is made up for by the hugeness of the American market... is it possible that so few North Americans buy these things that economies of scale don't or can't keep the price similar on both sides of the Atlantic?

Are there protectionist economic practices keeping those evil European panniers out of North America? Are the hard working pannier makers of middle America in danger of extinction?

I hemmed and hawwed for over a month. I mean, having something shipped from England? Eventually, against my better judgement, I ordered them from an online retailer in the UK. Shipping was more than it was in my "test purchases" of about a month earlier, and I thought "here we go... they're gonna end up costing the same no matter what I do". After shipping and before crossing Canada's borders, I had paid $118 US. Now here's something freaky... that's where the spending stopped! It was some kind of International shopping miracle!

No tax, no duty... wait, wait! On second thought... I did pay duty and taxes, yeah, and was pleased to do so, because I would never cheat my government.

The package arrived at my house about 6 business days after ordering - not bad having come ACROSS THE ATLANTIC OCEAN!
original, undoctored painting source:
So, anyway, the upshot of this whole post is that by shopping globally rather than locally, I saved at least $40 US. That is so very wrong! I shouldn't be saving a penny by having stuff shipped ACROSS THE ATLANTIC (or Pacific, for that matter) OCEAN! Now that the deed has been done, I feel a little dirty. I mean, if you want to talk about environmental concerns, having stuff shipped from all over the place certainly isn't helping. And I really would rather support my LBS; I'm just not willing to pay an extra $40 or $50 to do so...

I'm off to examine my conscience. It may take several days.
Yer Pal,



Fanky Fank said...

You cheap-*** piece of ****. Thanks for killing the planet to save a few bucks. Your ****ing panniers probably flew first class on an otherwise empty 747, dining on whale-stuffed baby seals wrapped in panda bear bacon in a light endangered-mountain-gorilla sauce. They probably followed their meal with a nice cup of enslaved-child-produced coffee grown on the former site of a slashed-and-burned rain forest, by a company that powers their carbon-belching roasters with the corpses of the exotic fauna that they displaced while building an exclusive golf club for war criminals and child pornographers.

I hope you enjoy your forty ****ing bucks you ********ing *******ing lowlife.

Moderate that.

But seriously…. It’s a sad commentary on our economic system that shipping ONE PAIR of bags halfway around the world to ONE CUSTOMER is cheaper than buying them at a LBS that could acquire them in volume.

Keep on ranting.

RANTWICK said...

Fanky Fank!

That was a commenting tour-de-force if ever I've read one.

I'm glad the difficulty of adding links to blogspot comments hasn't driven away my most faithful reader after all. Welcome back, and as always, thanks for reading.

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