I was in Denver, there were a few shops where you could learn stuff from real guys.
They got fewer then none.
There is something about light filter through slightly dusty windows, reflecting off bicycle frames hanging overhead, combined with the smells of campy bearing grease, coffee, sweat, 50 year old wood floors, benches accompanied by the tink of wrenches and spokes from the back that really makes a great learning environment.
Riding in, learnign what's wrong and how to fix it and riding out after fixing it under a critical eye may not sell service orders, but it builds a relationship that sells bikes, components, tools and gear. That also helps to create another cyclist who tells friends and as a cyclist without even knowing it sits as an example to anyone watching. So, when he stops in the shade to tweak a spoke or help someone change a flat, or re-place a chain or just square up the gearing, by that example he moves the machinery a notch ahead.
Unfortunately that didn't result in our old pro shops enduring. Part of that just goes down to the same way the family farm went. Kids off to college that the shop helped to pay for, but they got higher education and went off to engineering or doctors or the law.
Or not. Who knows about that side of the question really? What did have a huge affect was first large chains buying up those mom & Pop pro shops then the big catalog houses going brick and mortar on a national level, aka Performance Bicycle Shops.
I participated in a focus group study when they were coming into Denver. Everybody else on the panels were all people who knew each other from the cycling community, both racing and touring sides as I was associated with both.
I don't think that was a bad thing, but the affect was that the small shops went away because they could not compete on price, and not enough people saw the value in the knowledge. The new "big box" shops didn't hire the old school folks. Much.
A few of the old mechanics got work there. And for a while there were some large local shops that operated both like the big chains and the old pro shops. The best of both worlds. That eventually gave way to just a few big chain stores in a few locations. The local expertise died out. All that were left were a very few boutique shops.
I think there has been a resurgence of sorts in the a few of the chains. At least that is my experience. a few large pro shops got on the train of a major brand shop and these at least where I've been have a few people who are those old school types that build relationships and spread the love of cycling.
The musty old basements are gone, and the new shops reside in lower rent strip malls those old wood-floored buildings long ago converted to yuppy lofts/downtown trendy clubs/storefront homes/offices.
What really matters are those cycling geezers in the making.
Originally Posted by pierce
Geez, you knew Spence of Cupertino Cyclery, too? I was a customer of his after he'd "retired" and then reopened a shop by the same name in Pacific Grove, out by Asilomar in the fog zone.
I probably should have kept my last pair of tubular rims he'd tied and soldered for me. vintage NR hubs and all. those rims were light, strong, and fast.