Sometimes at the end of November, there seems little to be thankful for in a bike shop. Particularly when November has been cold. The fair weather riders have stopped riding. The dedicated commuters, hardy though they are, can barely provide sustenance through the cold weeks, especially with the proliferation of small bicycle shops throughout Chicago. And in a tight economy. We're pinched, and so is everyone else.
And yet... even on a slow day in the bike shop, the amount of goodwill we experience is nothing short of breathtaking. Folks come in and share stories of personal triumphs, small victories, wishes on their way to fulfillment. Like this one, from a couple who saved transit money for a year while riding department store bikes, so they could purchase a couple of Surly's:
"Everyone was happy to help and excited to get our bikes tweaked out into perfection. With the full year free labor that Rapid Transit offers, we were able to take our new bikes through every season with an awesome shop to back us up as we got flats, snapped axels, broke chains and basically tried to break our bikes. We ride our bikes every single day. We ride them to work, on vacation, to Bears games and to neighborhood festivals. Our bikes are not our primary source of transportation- they are our only source of transportation and we ride them hard and as fast as we can. We are able to do this because Jay, Adam and the rest of the Rapid Transit team are right behind us every step of the way, helping to make our adventure safe, informed and freaking awesome."
Foreget chestnuts roasting on an open fire! It doesn't get any better than this. This is what we live for, and, as my husband said upon reading this customer's letter, it's better than money.
Anything, my friends, is better than money. And it is a darned shame that our best holidays have been turned into a race to get more for less. "Small Business Saturday", which I believe was conceived to balance out the black Friday bonanza and give the small guy a fighting chance, has been turned into a boxing ring where the small players duke it out over who can slash their prices lower in an effort to shake out some loose change before the holidays.
Folks, we can't afford it! We can't afford the discounts. But, more importantly, we can't afford to foresake our livelihoods, the work that we love, our communities and our fundamental values in a race for the cheapest stuff.
Will we be offering discounts throughout the holidays? Yes, normal, reasonable discounts, the same way all retailers should and do to entice and encourage your patronage and to reward your loyalty. And, if you can, you should come in and take advantage of those discounts.
But what is equally meaningful to us is that you visit us, this weekend, or whenever you are back in town, and if we have contributed to your biking experience, let us know. If you are around this Friday, come and share some hot cider and freshly baked Polish pączki, and enjoy the company of others who defy the cold and keep on bikin'.