This year I was lucky enough to spend a couple of months in Europe with my bike and spent a few weeks riding downhill in the well known French resorts.
I always go away with spare tyres, brake pads and as many tools as I can carry so I’m prepared for all but the biggest breakdown. This is because I know that if I need any service parts I will be absolutely bent over by the local shops who will quite happily charge double the UK RRP for fresh rubber or brake pads. You try buying a dual-ply High Roller in Morzine for less than 80 quid!
But then there are the luxury goods. Lots of shops packed from floor to ceiling with all the latest day-glow fashions and anodized alloy at heavily inflated prices. I know what it’s like when you’re on holiday and you throw your foreign money around as if it’s not real but I fancied some long legged pants to keep the mud out of my pads, shoes, socks and leg hair during a week long deluge and I’d never part with 220 Euro for some Troy Lee GP’s. I lost count of the amount of times I saw someone pick something up just to check the price and then laugh incredulously before showing it to his mates. Lots and lots of people going in and out of shops and then doing a group order from CRC. I would have liked to replace my tired old gloves and kneepads and would have been happy to pay RRP for the convenience but I’m not going to pay double.
I saw some young German kid who had just snapped his Spank bars trying to replace them within budget and he came out of the shop with the nastiest old pair of Easton's that they probably had lying around since 2006. He wanted a proper downhill bar but the Renthals were 120 Euro.
This isn’t a whinge about the high prices because I exercised my right to not actually buy anything. I just wonder, how can these shops survive from year to year? There are a lot of bike shops in this small region and they’re all packed with this years gear but the season is very short. How do they shift it all?
I know they have a 'captive audience' but they seem to only have two types of customer. Those lucky few for whom money is no object and those poor kids who have broken something and have to grudgingly hand over a few days food budget to get back on the trail. How is there enough of either type to keep the doors open and the lights on? Surely reasonable prices would see a lot more casual shopping and not ‘break wallet in case of emergency’ type spending. I certainly would have picked up some new riding gear given the opportunity to browse so much of it and try it on in a real shop.
Wow this post was much shorter in my imagination.