Recently, one of my friends on Twitter asked, “What turns you off about your LBS?” I’ve paraphrased the question, but that’s the gist of it. While I could spend time telling you what’s wrong with bike shops, to me it’s more appropriate to describe a great one.
Let’s look at the physical shop itself first. If I walk in and am reminded of a MegaMart, that shop is going to have to have something pretty damn spectacular to keep me inside the door. Brand shops and stores that try to be all things to all people generally are going to leave me cold. My experience has been that if you try to do too much, you won’t do too much of it well.
No, what I like is the small local shop, the LBS. Here in Omaha, we are graced with several such shops, each with its own distinctive look and feel. In visiting them, they each seem to gravitate towards a specific “tribe” of cyclist (mountain, road, commuter, touring, etc.) With enough overlap to satisfy those with whose interests may be more inclusive.
But what make a LBS truly great is the part they play in the community. Not just as a purveyor of cycling paraphernalia, but as a hub where cyclists can meet to ride, to socialize, and to discuss the state of cycling in town. Even better if they can lead those advocacy efforts without turning the cause into a commercial for their business. Those owners are the ones who truly believe in what they do, that it will one day make your town a better place to live.
So do yourselves a favor: go out and find that LBS. Support it however you can. Help them to amplify their voices in the automotive wilderness. Band together so that the city knows: WE ARE HERE!!