Well, I think 2010 has been a year of many mixed emotions. We start with high unemployment rates, jobs continually being shifted overseas, and businesses everywhere closing their doors. On the other hand, more people are hopping on their bikes and thinking about how they can take better care of themeselves. For those of us who own bike shops, we now begin to think about next year and what we will change, keep the same, and learn from the past.
I've learned that no matter how big or small of a shop you have or work in, be thankful that you still return each day to flip on the lights. Remember to treat people with respect, even if they purchased their bike elsewhere. Find what makes your business unique and special and capitalize on that.
Like many others, I tend to compete with people that purchase their bikes/accessories from Walmart. They often call or stop by and ask " how do I get this "thing" that I purchased to work? I'd definitely NOT be honest if I mentioned that I wasn't upset by this and truly want to say" why don't you ask the people where you purchased it from"? However, that truly does not give these people the incentive to come to the shop and spend their hard earned money with me, now does it? So what is a shop owner/employee to do? WE have all tried to educate these people over the years, have earned some new customers because of this behavior... but how long must we carry this on? Those are the questions that I ask myself each day and have for several years.
While I have no definite answer(s) for the above, I do know that the situation will continue to arise regardless of what business you may be associated with. I'll also be upfront and say that it takes a lot of energy to talk with people and explain the differences and sometimes still see them go and spend their money elsewhere. Truly the only thing that we can hope is that they continue to come back, ask questions, and perhaps one day something will catch their eye while they are in the shop.
The moral of the story is to support your local businesses, and watch how money trickles back into your community with jobs, tax money etc... And lastly, if you have a favorite bike shop, hair dresser, vet, let them know how much you appreciate them. You don't always have to offer them a tip, maybe some holiday cookies, that special beer or wine, or even a nice thank you note. Something as simple as that can truly make their day, and perhaps give them that added incentive to once again explain the difference between department store vs bike shop quality or stay late the next time you are running late.
Happy Holidays Everyone!!!