Here in Wausau, the bike shop of choice is Rib Mountain Cycles. They’ve established themselves as having the most knowledgeable staff and some of the best product. I feel like I have a decent rapport with them, which is not something I can say about any of the other shops in town.
And that’s why I felt so guilty when I bought my Bianchi in 2007 – a bike I chose to buy over the interweb even though it was available locally. As is often the case, the bike as it was online was still hundreds of dollars less than RMC’s price, even after shipping and tuning. And being as the Bianchi was a niche bike, and one I didn’t particularly need, my reasoning was this: it wasn’t a tossup between buying the bike online and buying it locally; it was between buying it online or not buying it at all.
As a penance I resolved (again) that my next bike would be a local purchase, and assuming I won the lottery, it would say “Specialized” on it – a brand I’ve always liked sold by a shop I’ve always liked.
Well, I lied. All of the joy that accompanies getting a new bike turns to sheepishness when you walk it through the door of the shop you didn’t buy it from. At least with the LeMond it’s an easy excuse: RMC doesn’t sell the brand; RMC doesn’t sell a cross bike with disc brakes at all, much less one that I could afford. They even complimented it (that still makes me smile, even nearly two weeks later)!
I feel singled out in this experience, but it’s unrealistic to assume that the crew there doesn’t deal with this sort of thing on a daily basis. Cyclists are a finicky bunch, and a single shop can’t reasonably hope to be everything to everyone. So instead, Rib Mountain Cycles finds success in being a bike shop that is fun to go to; one where the staff is so nice and helpful that I want to spend my money there. And considering it’s biking that we’re talking about, there’s always an excuse.