Forgive me fellow cyclist, for I have sinned. I have sinned against you and every other person who has ever given their local bicycle shop (LBS) their patronage. I went, and bought from, Performance Bicycle. Not just through the anonymity of the internet, with plain brown boxes arriving at my door, but I actually drove across town to their new shop in Dallas, walked around, and knowingly, willingly, purchased gear. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
I told myself "I blew a tire and my LBS doesn't stock Vredesteins. I have to go there." I reasoned, "With this $20 off coupon and the fact that it's a grand opening, I could save a ton of money." I consoled myself with, "Some of this stuff has got to be a loss leader, they will lose money on that. I'm actually helping my LBS." But in the end, $115 if my hard-earned credit is now owned by Performance Bike, actually Bitech, now North Castle Partners. And all I have to show for it is four Panaracer tires, three tubes, two cans of GU20, a set of skewers, two Michelin 16" tires for my 6 year-old, and two spare tubes for said 16" tires. DANG!! Yup, that was a haul of gear for the $$.
So now Performance Bike has been sold to some big equity firm. Someone told me that they also owned Nashbar and a trip to ICANN proved it. Both ip's track back to the same company. Someone posted a bunch of the online news about the buyout here. I guess it's OK news. The knock on online places like Nashbar, Performance, and PricePoint (which has more holes but better deals) is that they don't have a local presence. The knock on Performance Bikes shops, which I've also extended to REI, is that they don't support local racing or clubs. They want to sell you a bike, shake your hand, and let you walk away. You may come back, you may not. An LBS wants you to come back again. Maybe for an upgrade or a repair, maybe for more gear, maybe for a bike for your kid or with a friend. They want you to know all the folks who work there and they want you to recommend them to friends. But let's be honest, both Performance Bike and the LBS want to make money. Both want to pay their bills and feed their kids. The crucial difference I think is this. Most every LBS started with a guy who raced and burned out or hit a ceiling and said "what do I do now?" With the only skills they had being with bikes, they went to work in a shop and then one day, opened their own. So they want to pay bills and feed kids and race you. One day they want to pull on a jersey and lead out someone to victory or cross the duct-tape first.
So next paycheck, I'm going to go down and support someone's dream. I'm off to my LBS to plop down some dough there. Maybe $120 worth of penance will be enough.