Everywhere around the world the local bike shop is under pressure, with the Internet frequently fingered as the culprit for declining sales, leaving them no choice but to re-invent themselves.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

While it's true that the advent of online shopping has affected your nearby LBS it can hardly be the sole reason for cycling punters taking their custom to the web. Maybe the real reason is that the LBS has ceased to be relevant to cyclists.

With its generally low barrier to entry, the industry I worked in for two decades was historically populated by a large percentage of 'fringe dwellers' who provided nothing more than the basic sales and service, often with a dose of grease and grump.

That is slowly changing in Australia with many fine shops around the country providing clean and efficient services to its customers. Though there are still too many of the old school retailers hanging on grimly for nothing more than the increasingly meagre weekly takings.

But industry disruption does breed invention, as the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) points out. Some retailers are lifting their game, not just with responsive service and cleaner shopping environments, but by seeing their businesses as more than cashing out the latest widget or repair job at the till.
Around the country, bike shops are shifting gears. The National Bicycle Dealers Association 2013 survey of 4,000 establishments found that 12 per cent have coffee bars, 11 per cent offer spinning classes and almost 5 per cent serve beer. About 1 per cent offer massages, yoga or full-service restaurants.Hmmmm, beer and massages!

For most retailers the Saturday or Sunday coffee morning ride from the premises has long been a staple, but the initiatives listed by the WSJ take community engagement to a whole new level and re-invents what a bike shop can be.

For some retailers this may seem like a distracting novelty and a greater workload, but community has always been the lifeblood of the sport and in today's connected world you're not going to get far without engaging customers in an entertaining and creative way, online and within the walls of the business. Extending the definition of what a bike shop can be is the sure way to survival.

Oddly enough this almost takes us back to an earlier time when bicycle retailing was more than just the shiny globally branded specialist store, but the old 'Bikes, Mowers and Fishing Tackle' model. Maybe everything old really can be new again.

Price aside, what creative initiatives would motivate you to keep shopping and hanging out at your local bike shop?