I will be the first to admit I have purchased cycling-related items from internet companies. Sometimes, the internet is the only place to get an item such as discontinued items no longer available to order or specialty items only sold online. It is very tempting to purchase most items from the internet – heck, you can find just about anything much cheaper on the internet. However, in most cases, the cyclist can and should buy from a local bike shop.
Why should a cyclist support a local bike shop?
If I were computer savvy, I would cue the music for the theme from Cheers. Most of you are familiar with the old sitcom featuring a local bar and its patrons. Cheers is the bar “where everybody knows your name.” A regular patron walks in and everyone shouts his name – “Norm!”
This is the type of relationship a cyclist should have with his or her local bike shop. When you have taken time to develop a relationship with the staff of a local shop, you should feel at home. As the staff learns your riding style, likes and goals, they can make personal recommendations. It was with staff from Indian Cycle that I first discussed long-distance cycling and the goal to ride across the United States. Want to become a triathlete? Staff members from the local shops can point you in the right direction. The same is true for mountain biking, racing, and touring.
Supporting your local bike shop supports our local economy. Each shop hires staff and pumps tax dollars back into our economy. The staff members tuning up your bike and selling equipment and clothing are cycling advocates and enthusiasts themselves. They promote cycling in the community.
We are very fortunate to have bike shops that are active in the community. These shops provide monetary assistance to the local bike club, Jackson Metro Cyclists, as well as the organizers of other community rides like the Natchez Trace Century Ride, MS150 and the Cyclists Curing Cancer Century. The shops organize many of their own rides – large supported annual rides like the Bike Crossing’s 100 Miles of Mayhem and Revolution’s McGee Lungbuster Mountain Bike Race. Let’s not forget the smaller weekly rides held virtually every weekend, and on some weekdays once the time changes, from several of the bike shops – Ride South’s Bread Ride is one. Of course for the die-hard, The Bike Rack and Indian Cycle have even held free indoor trainer sessions throughout the winter.
As stated above, each of the local bike shops is involved with many local rides financially. But we can not forget the support they provide for many community rides. Many of the shops provide a bike mechanic and a SAG vehicle for the community rides. Several shops contribute bikes to be auctioned off for charitable purposes. They can’t keep up this support if we don’t support them.
Want to know how to fix your bike? Yes, you can find a YouTube video and struggle your way through it. But why do that when a trip to the Jackson Community Bike Shop will not only help teach you to fix your bike but supply the tools necessary to do so? Additionally, all of the bike shops in town offer maintenance clinics throughout the year.
Take time to visit our local bike shops. Each shop has its own personality. Hang out. Attend their workshops. Know their staff. One shop may be able to meet all of your needs, but visit them all. It won’t be long before they are calling out your name when you enter.
The next time you start to purchase a cycling-related product from the internet, think back to your last community ride. Whose names and logos are on the back of your cool-max t-shirt? I can guarantee Amazon, Wal-Mart and Performance Bike will not be among them. But you will see at least one of these:
The Bike Crossing
Jackson Community Bike Shop
Revolution Mobile Bike Service