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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I ride/race with a small local club, we are a mix of a handful of cat 3-5 racers, a few more very strong club guys, and a large bunch of the usual club type people - so your typical bike club. Like a lot of clubs we are sponsored by and mostly organized through a local shop. I'd bet 90% or more of the membership got introduced to the club when they purchased a bike at the local shop. We do get a 10% discount at the sponsor shop on most things, and probably more than half of the club sponsorships come in via the shop owner. What I'm trying to say is that the shop's contribution to the club is not trivial. In exchange for support from the shop we have the shop's logo plastered across our backs, but mostly there is a large amount of pressure to buy everything from the sponsor shop.

There has always been favoritism towards those who spend money at the shop, usually this is in the form of free club gear (jerseys, bibs, etc) and who gets the products from the sponsors when it come in (helmets, tires, glasses). This practice has been accepted or tolerated by most & supported by those getting the free goods for a while. A year or two ago the club president tried to end the favoritism, and while he had limited success, he was more or less run out of the club by the shop owner soon after. The small changes he got enacted have since gone away.

So that's the background, now onto the current issue... I recently bought a new bike. It was not a brand sold at the sponsor shop, and thus not purchased there. Needless to say, I will not be getting any free goodies anytime soon. I was expecting to be on the shop owner's **** list, but he is going out of his way to try to make me miserable, it's slightly threatening but mostly childish & sore looser like. This is fine with me, in fact it has removed the guilt I had for not buying from him. What isn't OK with me is that he's asked (told) me to leave the club. The club members I race with have said to let it blow over, so they do not feel the same way. I'm sure that he has his supporters in the club though, but nobody else has said anything to me.

While I haven't bought every other bike and part at the sponsor shop over the last few years, I have spent the majority of my bike money there. Of the four new bikes I have bought in the last 4 or so years, 2.5 of them have come from the sponsor shop (one was a reasonably expensive frame I bought, then built up with other parts). In the past, I always gave the sponsor shop first shot at my business. When I first became a member of the club I did accept a free club kit, but have not accepted any free gear since, I was offered some more free club gear, but told him I couldn't accept it (obviously this was before I bought the new bike). I do some small things for the club, so I'm not a freeloader. The shop owner said to stop doing the club stuff I do, but I plan on continuing to do it until someone else is willing to pick up the ball (which may be never), after all the reason I'm doing it is because nobody else was.

So what are your thoughts? Should I let him run me out of the club? Should I stick around & stand up to him? Did I mention that I'm not the first person he's done this to, but the others did leave the club?
 

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Quit

You are doing this for fun. If you want politics then go to work. Unless you have some good frieds in the club and then fun factor outweighs the annoyance. In any case you should not buy a single thing from him ever again. Call another bike shop in the area and explain the situation. I am sure there have to be some shop owners who would die to have a customer like you.

The only thing a bike shop offers over online is service and you ain't getting that.

If you really want to get him, add up all the money you have spent over years, every year, and send to him with a snide comment like "glad you can do without this."
 

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Fini les ecrase-"manets"!
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I'd wait it out.

I can see how this is totally annoying for you.

Make it clear to other club members that the sponsor has tried to get you to quit the club and quit working for the club. Maybe ask them if they think the sponsor "owns" the club, and should have the right to say things like that to regular members. Find out what they think--just for your own piece of mind, and to let folks know what's going on.

Could be that a lot of people in your club would take offense at this.

But don't do anything just yet, I'd say. Ride it out a while, try to keep up your usual shopping habits at the sponsor shop, and see if dipshit cools down.

Personally, it seems retarded to me that the sponsor is willing to throw you over for going somewhere else to buy something he couldn't have sold you himself. If you already owned a bike from another shop and joined the club, would he try to say you couldn't join? You're still wearing his shop's name on your back every time you go for an organized ride or race, right? What the hell else did he think he was going to get for his money? If he thinks of the club as a bunch of captive customers who can only shop at the company store, he needs an attitude adjustment.
 

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You're Not the Boss of Me
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That is a really interesting issue, and unfamiliar territory to me because the clubs here don't tend to be bike shop sponsored... just the racing teams.

If this is the "ABC Bikes Cycling Club" (with "ABC Bikes" being the LBS) then it is theirs to run as they see fit and I'd abide by the request. If they are just a sponsor but the club has a real sense of self and organization outside the LBS, then they can take their request and stick it.

It is just such a fact-specific scenario. Keep us posted.
 

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The club...

Dr. Paul Proteus said:
I ride/race with a small local club, we are a mix of a handful of cat 3-5 racers, a few more very strong club guys, and a large bunch of the usual club type people - so your typical bike club. Like a lot of clubs we are sponsored by and mostly organized through a local shop. I'd bet 90% or more of the membership got introduced to the club when they purchased a bike at the local shop. We do get a 10% discount at the sponsor shop on most things, and probably more than half of the club sponsorships come in via the shop owner. What I'm trying to say is that the shop's contribution to the club is not trivial. In exchange for support from the shop we have the shop's logo plastered across our backs, but mostly there is a large amount of pressure to buy everything from the sponsor shop.

There has always been favoritism towards those who spend money at the shop, usually this is in the form of free club gear (jerseys, bibs, etc) and who gets the products from the sponsors when it come in (helmets, tires, glasses). This practice has been accepted or tolerated by most & supported by those getting the free goods for a while. A year or two ago the club president tried to end the favoritism, and while he had limited success, he was more or less run out of the club by the shop owner soon after. The small changes he got enacted have since gone away.

So that's the background, now onto the current issue... I recently bought a new bike. It was not a brand sold at the sponsor shop, and thus not purchased there. Needless to say, I will not be getting any free goodies anytime soon. I was expecting to be on the shop owner's **** list, but he is going out of his way to try to make me miserable, it's slightly threatening but mostly childish & sore looser like. This is fine with me, in fact it has removed the guilt I had for not buying from him. What isn't OK with me is that he's asked (told) me to leave the club. The club members I race with have said to let it blow over, so they do not feel the same way. I'm sure that he has his supporters in the club though, but nobody else has said anything to me.

While I haven't bought every other bike and part at the sponsor shop over the last few years, I have spent the majority of my bike money there. Of the four new bikes I have bought in the last 4 or so years, 2.5 of them have come from the sponsor shop (one was a reasonably expensive frame I bought, then built up with other parts). In the past, I always gave the sponsor shop first shot at my business. When I first became a member of the club I did accept a free club kit, but have not accepted any free gear since, I was offered some more free club gear, but told him I couldn't accept it (obviously this was before I bought the new bike). I do some small things for the club, so I'm not a freeloader. The shop owner said to stop doing the club stuff I do, but I plan on continuing to do it until someone else is willing to pick up the ball (which may be never), after all the reason I'm doing it is because nobody else was.

So what are your thoughts? Should I let him run me out of the club? Should I stick around & stand up to him? Did I mention that I'm not the first person he's done this to, but the others did leave the club?
The club I ride for, you are expected to ride the products sold at the shop that, like in your situation, provides most of the support for the team. Which honestly, I don't have a problem with, as the shop provides some awesome gear. But, in this case, it appears that the shop guy went a little far, as we do have folks on our team/club that have gear that isn't purchased or available at the shop we ride out of. And it's no big deal. I suspect that the guy you're running into here is a bit of an a-hole. I'd quit the club, and maybe join another?
 

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The bottom line is you are on a shop team not a club team. A club team doesn't allow a shop owners to fire members. If the team is sponsored by the shop only and he is paying the way then he has the right to call the shots. Your only options are play by his rules or quit.

If you are riding for a club team then get a different sponsor so you don't HAVE to buy from this guy. It sounds like he expects 100 percent loyalty for the deals he is giving you. If the deals are great and he is saving you all big bucks then he deserves loyalty.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Thanks for thoughts on this - keep 'em coming, it's interesting to hear what others think as I really want to do the right thing here.

Some clarification; While we are not a "shop team", the shop is very closely tied to the club. Like I said, what the shop does for the club is in no way small. Mostly though, the shop provides a vehicle for bringing members into the club. We do pay dues, $20 or so, which go to things such as insurance, food for the yearly club ride, etc. There is some speculation that some of our club dues may go to cover the cost of some of the freebies, but I don't believe this is so. The discount we get is 10% off full price, though prices at this shop tend to be a bit higher then elsewhere in town, so often the 10% means you won't be paying more than you would elsewhere. The discount excludes bikes & many other high dollar items. As I said, about half of the club sponsors come though his industry contacts & if you are one of the favored children you get the goodies. This year the goodies included helmets, frames, tires, glasses, etc. My thoughts on this are simply he gets those goodies, he can dole them out as he sees fit - some people in the club do not like this situation though. I decided a while ago that I would not accept any handouts as they certainly do not come "no strings attached". This is one way the shop owner keeps control of the club...

After the previous club president was chased away from the club, we elected a new president (nice guy & friend of the shop owner) and the shop owner enacted himself manager. There is a pretty constant power struggle between many of the members of the club (even those that buy from him 100%) & the shop owner. We have stated on many occasions that it is "our" club, not his, but the club has maintained this odd relationship for quite a while & it will not be changing soon. It's really just a disfunctional relationship.

BTW, I'm trying real hard to keep my comments and observations as neutral as I can. If I wanted to I could really paint an ugly picture of the situation, but that wouldn't help anything.
 

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duh...
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Dr. Paul Proteus said:
Thanks for thoughts on this - keep 'em coming, it's interesting to hear what others think as I really want to do the right thing here.

Some clarification; While we are not a "shop team", the shop is very closely tied to the club. Like I said, what the shop does for the club is in no way small. Mostly though, the shop provides a vehicle for bringing members into the club. We do pay dues, $20 or so, which go to things such as insurance, food for the yearly club ride, etc. There is some speculation that some of our club dues may go to cover the cost of some of the freebies, but I don't believe this is so. The discount we get is 10% off full price, though prices at this shop tend to be a bit higher then elsewhere in town, so often the 10% means you won't be paying more than you would elsewhere. The discount excludes bikes & many other high dollar items. As I said, about half of the club sponsors come though his industry contacts & if you are one of the favored children you get the goodies. This year the goodies included helmets, frames, tires, glasses, etc. My thoughts on this are simply he gets those goodies, he can dole them out as he sees fit - some people in the club do not like this situation though.

After the previous club president was chased away from the club, we elected a new president (nice guy & friend of the shop owner) and the shop owner enacted himself manager. There is a pretty constant power struggle between many of the members of the club (even those that buy from him 100%) & the shop owner. We have stated on many occasions that it is "our" club, not his, but the club has maintained this odd relationship for quite a while & it will not be changing soon. It's really just a disfunctional relationship.

BTW, I'm trying real hard to keep my comments and observations as neutral as I can. If I wanted to I could really paint an ugly picture of the situation, but that wouldn't help anything.

Do you have meetings? If so, bring it up at a mtg... "out" the owner as the d!ck that he is. And then bail for the biggest rival club and/or competing shop.
 

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A 10% discount from a shop that isn't cheap to begin with is no big deal. Almost a joke for a "team/club member". I belong to a local bike club. And it is just that a club, no racing or anything like that. Just get together for organized rides Most of the local shops offer 10% discounts to club members.

This guy has some racket going. He forces everyone to buy from him at good profit margins (even at the 10% discount) where they could of saved a lot more on the internet.He has everyone advertising his store on their back and he gives away gifts for loyalty that he gets for nothing. Sounds like he works the riders pretty good.
 

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Our club is a non racing club but our sponsors are almost all non bike related. It is much easier to deal with cyclist who own companies or people who are trying to promote healthy lifestyles than selling your soul to one bike shop. We offered ad space on our jersey to bike shops in the area but wouldn't give any bike shop exclusive rights. One bike shop on their own initiative asked if they could offer any club member 10% off all purchases including bikes. We said sure, any store can offer any discount they want to card carrying members. Our membership dues for the year are 10 bucks, you can buy a Voler jersey for 30 bucks, and we have a Christmas party where the members are all invited and can drink and eat more than 10 dollars worth of good cheer. Our board members work for free and pay dues as well as ride leaders and party hosts. So far the system has worked well.
 

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Our local "club" is a club in the loosest sense of the word. There are no dues, officers, or organizational structure of any kind. Any member can call a ride and the folks who sant to show up show up. We have a good relationship with the LBS and when we had Jerseys made last year, the LBS put up the $$$ up front to get the jerseys made. In return, we included the shop logo on the sleeve. When the Jerseys arrived, club members were able to purchase them at cost. Non club members could also purchase them at retail. I was amazed by how many non club members were buying jerseys! Long time customers and very active club members get discounts.

There is no pressure to buy everything at that particular shop. I never hide the fact from the owner that I shop online. When I buy new frames (2 in the last 3 yrs) I take them to him to install headsets and bottom brackets. I am never made to feel guilty over purchasing elsewhere. This guy sounds like an ass to me. It's amazing that this club has allowed this relationship to persist IMHO.
 

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Spicy Dumpling
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freezin_is_the_reason said:
Our local "club" is a club in the loosest sense of the word. There are no dues, officers, or organizational structure of any kind. Any member can call a ride and the folks who sant to show up show up. We have a good relationship with the LBS and when we had Jerseys made last year, the LBS put up the $$$ up front to get the jerseys made. In return, we included the shop logo on the sleeve. When the Jerseys arrived, club members were able to purchase them at cost. Non club members could also purchase them at retail. I was amazed by how many non club members were buying jerseys! Long time customers and very active club members get discounts.

There is no pressure to buy everything at that particular shop. I never hide the fact from the owner that I shop online. When I buy new frames (2 in the last 3 yrs) I take them to him to install headsets and bottom brackets. I am never made to feel guilty over purchasing elsewhere. This guy sounds like an ass to me. It's amazing that this club has allowed this relationship to persist IMHO.
Our club is the same way as far as officers/dues etc. Donations keep the website payed up and we just pooled our money for jerseys. But both of the local shops give us discounts without any requirements. We try to help out the shops when we can. Whenever I'm about to purchase anything I'll call the shop, get thier price and they can usally get close enough to make no difference. I called about some bars this week, they couldn't match the best price I had found, but in trying to confirm it they found a better price and told me about it. That is a shop to go back to. They understand that I buy for me but try to give them a chance. I sent a new rider to our area over to them to try some bikes after test riding mine. He bought a new mountain and road bike partially due to letting him ride my bike. So we both work together. The shops in our area seem to be as concerned with the cycling community as with the dollars.

This shop owner sounds like an @$$. He or his shop aren't worth the effort to argue with.
 
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