Showing posts with label service. Show all posts
Showing posts with label service. Show all posts

Thursday, April 23, 2009

London Ontario's Best Bike Shops for the Annoying Customer

Since I have gotten into building up my own bikes over the past couple of years, I have become a rather annoying bike shop customer. I show little to no interest in complete bicycles. I often ask for parts that nobody would normally have on hand, but am reluctant to order them. Since I get bits and pieces from all over the place including eBay and Internet stores, I seldom represent much profit to any one retailer, yet take a lot of the staff's time asking all kinds of obscure questions. I read tons of stuff online and take strange biases and beliefs about what I need into the store with me that I'm sure seem stupid much of the time. Normal people develop a relationship with one or two stores and do almost all their business with them. I show no particular loyalty to any one store, but shop my annoying self around.

Don't get me wrong; I do buy / order stuff at some local bike shops (LBSs). I also represent the more rare customer who is interested in and buys bike stuff year-round. Overall, though, if I was running a bike shop, I might hide in the back if I saw myself coming in yet again.

Most people have experienced specialty stores that make you feel stupid and annoying and nowhere near well-heeled enough to warrant serious attention. I have certainly felt this in some bike shops. Shopping for guitars or other musical instruments has left the same sort of bad taste in my mouth.

I just don't get it... why do some retail staff need to rub your nose in how much you don't know or can't afford? This post was supposed to be about just giving some praise to the London bike shops I like best, but when I look at my list, I see a pattern: the shops that have treated me best are small enough that the victim of my aforementioned faults is more often than not the owner, or a singularly passionate employee.

The theory I'm currently hatching is that the people working in some of the larger stores have insecurity complexes about working in retail at all, and these complexes manifest themselves in stand-offish, dismissive behaviour. It's a kind of "I may work in a retail store, but man are you stupid" defence mechanism. Please note: I worked in retail as a sales person for many years, longer than friends and family thought I should, after graduating from University. I get how crummy customers can be, but I hope I didn't act like that. I don't think I did, but self-perception is a tricky thing; who knows?

Anyway, this post is about giving some praise to the shops who put up with me best, and they are as follows, in no particular order. Please note that the businesses I mention here don't have any foreknowledge that I'm singing their praises, and therefore certainly haven't paid me anything:

First Cycleworks - 525 First Street - hands-on, really experienced bike people. Better than most for BMX and MTB, as far as I can tell. More Details.

Village Cycle - 344 Ridout St S. - zero attitude, much help and info, and a real love of all cycling. Sept 2017 - sadly another goos shop gone. There are some new ones though. Gonna do a new post.

South London Cycle - 479 MacGregor Ave - repair central, also good for finding Park and other tools. More Details.

All Seasons Sport & Cycle - 790 Dundas East - Note: October 2009 - sadly, this bike shop has gone under.

There are many other bike shops in London. I have been to most, if not all, of them. You may love them, and that's cool, but for me they have not been as good as the picks listed above.
Go buy like a whole complete bicycle or get a full tune-up from one of these places. I'm trying to keep my annoying self away during their Spring rush.


PS - I have not frequented the store enough to put it on my "Best Bike Shops" list, but Outspokin Cycles is at 994 Huron Street near Briarhill and I have heard good things.