by Victor Wanchena
I hate to start off the first issue of the year with another one of my rants but I figure most of you are tired of the same flowery “I can’t wait to ride, it’s springtime…” columns being spilled out on the pages of other motorcycle publications. Instead I want to give my take on your local dealers vs. the big Internet superstore type retailers.
Local dealers and cycle shops are under attack. The big Internet warehouses are attacking them and the long-term effect will ultimately hurt you the most. This is happening in a rather innocent, but none the less destructive manner the online retailers are offering lower prices. I realize the low prices are as American as bourbon whiskey and apple pie and that the idea you giving it to the consumer for less is a cornerstone of free enterprise. Unfortunately the ultimate end of the low prices will be to hurt motorcycling at a local level. It is a case of simple economics. The local shops count on you to spend your money with them. If you buy all your accessories, parts, apparel, etc. from an online retailer instead of your local dealer the local dealer will slowly but surely fail for they cannot live on new bike sales alone. Sure they make a profit on every machine they sell, but the fact is that the bulk of a dealer’s profits come from all the other products; accessories, parts, etc. you buy. Some may say this is simply survival of the fittest. This much is true, but your local dealer disappearing leads to many problems.
So why spend your money at the local dealer? Let’s say you can buy part X from some online retailer for 10 dollars less than your local dealer sells it. You place your order and 5 days later the part shows up. You attempt to install said part and discover you have been sent the wrong one. If you had bought this part from your local shop you could march in and explain the problem and typically with little to no fuss get the right part. It might even be on the shelf. Instead, you end up on the phone talking to a disinterested customer service rep, or worse trading emails with some unseen stock troll who thinks his job would be really great if it wasn’t for all the customers. To make what could be a long story short, your local dealer or cycle shop is your friend and as long as you treat them well they will treat you well. If they not around you would lose not only a retailer of bikes, but also a place to have service and warranty work done, a source of information and even sometimes hangout.
This does not even begin to address the time and hassle that invariably goes into ordering something from 2000 miles away. Often times when you take into account your time and the aggravation of ordering something online, the few dollars you save become worthless in comparison to the headaches that can avoided at your local shop. Don’t think the local shop will have the same selection that the big online site does? Chances are they will be able to get most of what you find at MegaMonsterStore.com And before you complain about the prices at your dealer remember that they have to keep the lights on and the guys behind the counter paid.
I know there all sort of stories about horrible dealers who gouge prices, can’t do the service work right or treat you worse than if you were shoplifting from them, but they are just that, stories. Not every dealer is going to be perfect. Shop around. I guarantee there is a shop out there just waiting to take care of you.
So ride fast, take chances and this month do it on your way to your local dealer.