I just wanted to buy a bike

It was a rainy day.  Only a few people in the local bike shop picking up repaired bikes.  I’d already done my research and just wanted to see the actual bikes.

Only nobody was really interested in selling one to me.

At least two clerks standing around doing nothing.  No eye contact, no interest.  The guy helping the person picking up the bike finally notices me.  It’s been ten minutes now; I always like to wait and see how long it takes.

He says, “Somebody will help you shortly.”  And “shortly” means three more minutes.  Because standing around doing nothing is important work, you know.

The guy who finally comes over looks like he’s been asked to do some unpleasant task and he’s going to do it with the minimum effort possible.  And he does.  Doesn’t even pull bikes out of the rack.  Doesn’t try to sell me a bike.

Did I mention that I already did most of my research?  I was ready to buy.  But hell will freeze over before I buy anything there.  And it’s a pity.  It’s a local, privately owned shop.  Just the sort of place I’d like to do business.  But apparently my money isn’t green enough.

5 thoughts on “I just wanted to buy a bike

  1. OMG – you went to CityBikes in DC too!?!?!?!?

    (JK – no clue where you went. But CB has a proud history of too-cool-for-school employees more interested in their own conversations than in helping customers. As do most bike shops, I fear.)

  2. I forget how lucky I am; my local bike shop is not only friendly, affordable, and flexible, but run (possibly owned) by a couple of black men who really know their way around a bike *and* around a clientele as diverse as my neighborhood has to offer.

    I’m sorry you had this experience; I hope you find a bike shop that’s thrilled to take your money!

  3. I’ve talked to other people of colour about this, and we seem to get this treatment from outdoor sports stores. Outdoor sports and bikes are for white people, doncha know.

  4. I ride a lot, when I needed a new road bike, I had $3000 burning a hole in my pocket. The place I bought my first bike (a really great place), didn’t have what I needed. I tried 3 different bike stores that had what I needed and just got really rude treatment.

    I ended up buying my bike online. I figured if I was going to get no customer service I may as well just get the bike I wanted for cheaper online (since I already knew my measurements and the ins and outs of sizing, component selection etc)

    It is amazing the assumptions people make when black people walk through the door. I saw white customers treated with courtesy while I was repeatedly ignored or treated brusquely because obviously, I wasn’t worth their time.

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