Originally Posted by epl
Going to a shop to try on all their boots first though does seem like a real dirtbag move.
Even as someone who has bought a lot of skis and gear online, I have to agree with you on that. The way I look at it is this...if I"m going in with the intention to pick the brain of the owner and/or staff (who presumably know their stuff), and they dish it out in terms of their customer service, I'm going to give them the business (unless I decide I don't want what they got at the moment). The extra I pay is for the service, the knowledge, the convenience (yes, sometimes goign to a brick/mortar is more convenient than online), the ability to take it back and get it tweaked, and so on.
If I have no intention of buying from the shop, I'll go and look at a piece of gear or pair of skis or whatnot...and maybe have a quick chat with someone there if they aren't busy serving other customers...but I'm not going to drill them for info if I don't intend to buy from them.
Boots...well, I've tried to get my wife boots online...it don't work for her. She's getting new boots this year (whether she likes it or not!) - from one of our two local shops. If the price is right, I'd go for an online boot (for myself), and return it if it doesnt fit.
One more comment about bricks and mortar vs online. Some brick/mortar shops can be intimidating to the novice or casual participant in a sport, and end up losing business. And some even put off people like me, who are more than casual participants but perhaps less than extreme fanatics. Example...looking at a new mtn bike. Was right by the local shop that carries Trek and had a few minutes...go in with my 7 y.o. daughter...chat up the guy who's there (not the owner, but been t here for years). After talking a bit, ask him to tell me, at the price point I'm looking (about $2k), what do I get with Trek vs CAnnondale or Specialized...in other words, why should I buy a Trek. He say...I don't know what they offer. So, I rephrase -- Tell me why I want a Trek bike, what's good about the brand. Hey says "Theyr'e good bikes". I say...that's it? I'm going to drop $2k, and thats your whole sales pitch? He says "Yep, they're good bikes."
I shake my head, say "You just lost a customer" and walk out. Specialty shops need to realize...not everyone is a gearhead, not everyone wants to be a gearhead...make it less intimidating for those who aren't, and be sure to show them the value -- not just the cost, but the value. That's where a lot of brick and mortar shops fail.