Bike Talk: Bike Shops. A Boys Only Club?

22 September, 2010

Rarely will I ever complain about my daily frustrations on bike but I seriously think that I need to rant about something every woman goes through when they walk into a bike shop: demeaning service. I won't be mentioning any bike shop names as I'm sure bike shop employee's reputations for being know-it-alls are well known already...
As most of you know, I'm building my own handlebar set for my road bike. I've done lots of research about products, sizes, tools, components and building that is helpful to my needed knowledge in this process. Well, today I walked into a bike shop knowing exactly what I wanted and was treated as if i didn't. Perhaps it was the red lipstick, high waisted-skirt, and long flowing curly hair under the helmet that made me look too feminine? Girl... please, all I was looking for was grip! I've worked in customer service so I know what honest helpfulness looks like and demeaning helpfulness looks like. I appreciate the help rather than be ignored but being helpful to a lady on her steel steed does not mean you tell her what she knows is wrong to show off your knowledge then boost ego by asking her if she wants it in pink!!!

I hear complaints all the time from boys that I ride with that women need to be knowledgeable about what they're looking for whenever they walk into a bike shop, I agree, however, I also think that it’s much more important for a well-trained shop staff to have a simple conversation with their female customers to suss out what sort of riding they want to do and what their goals are in finding a bike or building their bike. It's called customer service, that's what they're paid for. Women have a growing influence of spending in this particular economy and I don't think she'll recommend a bike shop if the employees are being rude to. Not to mention, you're doing a great disservice to those who love to ride and have a passionate desire to influence biking in the community.

Continuing on, I allowed the service provider to ease out his ego, I let him know that I was building my own handlebar set which is why I was looking for said grip, He was impressed, then asked me which product I was using. He finally gave me the product I wanted rather than what he recommended, so on a friendly note, I payed and said goodbye. 

Lesson learned: I think ladies can relate here that when they walk into a bike shop, they are entering a boys only club. Well here's a reality check, you're not. You're entering a shop where you have the power of money to purchase any item you want. Bike shop employees are there to assist your purchasing decisions, not to intimidate, demean, or tell you "you're wrong". I always recommend my lady rider friends to go to a shop where there are women, they're always friendly, knowledgeable, good listeners, and eager to help. So on that note, I feel better and hope that this breaks barriers not just on the road but within the bike culture too. 

Makes me wonder though, with more women getting on the saddle, are bikes shops ready for us?