Saturday, December 3, 2011

Santa Loves Local Bike Stores

One of the best things about Chicago is the amazing local bike stores. We can name five or six we like without even thinking too long. Unlike those big box stores with untrained people selling low quality bikes and other junk, any good local bike store has experienced, skilled employees and a wide inventory. They have better bikes with more options, they can make sure you get the equipment you want and need, and they can keep your bike running well for decades. But (here's the catch) they can only help you if they 

Have you been wondering what to get someone, maybe yourself, for the holiday season? Well, the season’s commercial enough anyway so we don’t want to add to the clamor much, but please do think hard about doing your shopping at your favorite local bike store. They have all had a terrible year, with odd weather and declining sales, and keeping those employees and inventory isn't easy.

Remember when gas was going up a dollar every week? That was a good time to sell bikes. People were actively trying to stop taking the car everywhere and a bike was a great way to do it.

Remember when people had pretty solid jobs most of the time? That was a good time for bike dealers, too. Look at all the expensive Dutch imports that sold well then, along with the condos to put them in. But a bike just isn’t the first thing to spend money on if you lose your job. 

So for those of you reading this with the money to spend, why not go to the bike store for most of your purchases this season? 
Everyone can use a new seat, or tires, or brake pads and cables, fenders, or a winter tune up package. These are really useful. 
How about a cycling jacket? Or a set of panniers would really make it easier to carry your things on your bike. 
Do you have a heavy duty chain or a good quality U-lock for all your bikes? A cable won't do you any good in the city. 
You could get your bike cleaned, adjusted and lubricated properly, so it’ll last longer. Take in a dusty old "vintage" one from the basement and get it spiffed up properly (keep the old parts if it's really vintage). Get your wheels trued. You won't regret any of that.
Does your child need a new bike, or new components for that used kid's bike you are spiffing up? 
How about a bell or a mirror or a set of generator lights? 
And if you’ve been thinking of getting a new bike, now is a great time to do it. There are a lot of good prices on stock bikes, and many dealers have discounts on special orders, too. And you are doing something helpful for someone, so you don't have to even feel guilty. Get the nice one.

Buy a gift certificate if you don’t know yet what you really want — maybe in summer when things are going better for the shop, you or the recipient can cash it in on something you need. This counts double since the bike store isn't actually giving you anything right now in return.

So we'd like to ask you to go on out to your local independent bike store now, get the cycling stuff you’d like to have, and keep your best bicycle resource in work for another year. 

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