Originally Posted by mntlion
so in summery:
you will pay for good service, and good information
and if crappy shops die, so be it
Exactly. Every shop claims to offer expert advice and service, but not that many actually do.
I've had the experience of being honest with ski and bike shops and telling them that I can find this item for XXX on the internet, so is your price negotiable and having them freak out and tell me how horrible internet shops are, etc., and I'm part of the problem. Fine. That's not making me buy anything from you.
The shops I actually spend money at have a decent grip on reality. If I can get it insanely cheap on the internet I will, but I'll be back for anything I need help with (boots come to mind) or need in a hurry. It adds up and I end up spending a good deal in the shops I support.
My favorite local bike shop comes to mind - they're absolute experts in their specialty. I went there after I bought my first DH bike on ebay. The manager spent a good 45 minutes helping me set up the suspension correctly... for free. I bought a new set of handlebars for probably $45, which he didn't even push, just said I might want to consider, and that was it. Because he didn't freak out that I bought the bike used and online, I was back all the time for parts, and since then we've spent probably... at least $10,000, and referred tens of thousands of dollars of business their way. He could have easily said "if you wanted help you should have spent 4 times as much money to buy a new bike from us - it would fit better and work better and be more appropriate for your riding style". And it would have been true, but I didn't have the cash to do that and wasn't sure I'd want to stick with the sport, so I would have just left pissed off. Instead he developed me as a long term loyal customer and it's paid off in the long run.
I understand the frustration. But I don't see how you can run a business hating internet consumers unless you're in a location where you can plan to only cater to tourists and the handful of people with so much money they don't care what things cost.