Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Good News Bad News - Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) Coming to London Ontario

The good news: I am very happy. MEC is opening a store here in London Ontario. Mountain Equipment Co-op is a store very much like REI in the United States. I just read a snippet about it in the London Free Press here. Some of the comments about the article questioned why MEC would open here since we have a very good outfitters called Novack's downtown. I like Novack's too, but they don't do bikes. Which leads to the bad news...

I fear that the wide variety and lower prices on bicycle accessories offered by MEC could be bad news for my favourite local bike shops. Quality isn't always as high, but they do sell some good brands like Planet Bike that are harder to find in Canada, and their cheap house brands of cycling clothing are pretty popular too. I have no idea how much of a lbs's profits come from clothing and accessories like fenders, racks, lights, etc. but this can't be good. MEC expanded into selling bicycles as well a couple of years ago which is also troubling.

I'm torn. Selfish me is happy. Unselfish me is a little worried for the local shops. Time will tell, I guess.

Yer Pal,

PS - Thanks to lots of people ending up on this looking for London MEC info, I have collected everything I have written or learned about it here.


Big Oak said...

Performance Bike opened a store in Indianapolis, and I've stopped there several times since they've opened. Their service cannot compare to the local bike shops here in Ft. Wayne. I hope they stay away from us here.

My guess is your favorite LBS will far outshine the new megalo-store in service. Keep patronizing them and hopefully they'll be able to coexist.

The LBS provides help that a big store doesn't care about.

Steve A said...

Even with what you will spend at MEC, and even if you spend most of your money there, you will still spend far more at your LBS than most of your neighbors. I buy a lot of stuff by mail and my LBS still gets the cash register ready when I stop by.

Steve A said...

BTW, and Chandra would know, but I think the Dallas REI has better service than my LBS.

Anonymous said...

Although I shop at MEC for some things, I still shop at my 2 favorite bike stores for most things. Funny enough, its the non-bike clothing that I like at MEC the most.

Anonymous said...

Thank you mec this store will be kicking some rear end in good old London very shortly no more poor service in the outdoor sports and over priced products.Whats that? I think I hear the last breath of a camping store dying,good bye!

RANTWICK said...

Anon ... bad experience or something?

GreenComotion said...

Hey Patrick,
REI Dallas offers great service. I have had my bikes worked on there, and they did a great job. Is REI = MEC? I don't know for sure.

I give my business to one or two select LBS in town, as well. My biggest ticket bike repairs were done by LBS.

I am attracted by REI's proximity to my neck of the woods. The LBS I go to are a bit farther. Given I don't like to drive to take my bike to the repair shop, sometimes the distance makes a difference for me.

Peace :)

RANTWICK said...

Chandra - MEC is not REI Canada, but they have similar business models. MEC is a "consumer cooperative" ($5 gets you a lifetime membership). They are impressive in their commitment to ethical sourcing, community involvement and environmental stuff, at least as big retailers go.

Graham said...

I hear you. You're torn. In KW we've also got good bike shops but they could all use a kick in the ass when it comes to customer service.

MEC is awesome. One area in particular is returns. Here in KW I bought a trek soho with a belt drive and when it didn't work in the snow (2 days after purchasing) the store and trek wouldn't provide a full refund.


RANTWICK said...

Hey Graham, thanks for visiting. Will that make London your nearest MEC, or someplace else?

GreenComotion said...

Thanks for the info.

"Ethical sourcing, community involvement and environmental stuff..."? That's awesome!

Peace :)

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