Archive for October, 2009

Confirmed: MEC launching bikes in bigger cities

So, it looks like this will be another arrow in the quiver of those explaining why Toronto is better than Ottawa.

According to the employees I spoke with on Tuesday, MEC has started selling bicycles at it’s locations in downtown Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, and Longeuil. These are all bigger stores in bigger markets, so have the extra space needed to setup a bike retail area/shop. At this point it sounds like it is still a pilot project, and it doesn’t look like we’ll see them added to the Ottawa store in the near future. At this point, apparently they are not even shipping to the non-pilot markets.

MEC rolls out bikes?

From the comments on a post that is still getting new comments, which is worth highlighting 0n the main page:

I just dropped by the MEC downtown Toronto and… I see the bikes! They have some really nice models, I like what I see. (I’m liking the hub gear ones and they even have fixie.) Based on the prices and the models I saw, they are competing with mid to high-end small bike shops, like the local bikes shops that sell nicer Trek, Devinci, or nicer Norcos.

Anyone else seen them?

I’m planning on stopping at Ottawa’s MEC tonight, so we’ll see if they have anything. I’d previously been given the impression by someone that works at the retail level of MEC that they were a couple of years out. In any case, I tend not to buy the noise about the evils of MEC (MEC as Wal-Mart? Please.), so welcome anything that helps people have better access to good bicycles. When people can buy a better bike, it means that they are more likely to keep using it. That’s good for all of us.

Selective Enforcement

Slate has a good piece up on the nature of traffic laws and cyclists (as a group we tend to break them). It has as good a breakdown as any on the tension between vehicular and facilitator cyclists, which essentially divides into a no paths vs. paths split. I think I like the ultimate conclusion that only enforcing egregious violations of the existing law is probably a good fit. I also like the last paragraph:

As a biker, my wish would be for police to crack down on more dangerous behavior, such as riding at night without a light or tearing the wrong way down a one-way street. Yes, I committed the latter crime just yesterday, and I admit I was in the wrong. If cops started handing out more tickets for one-way infractions, bikers like me would probably clean up their most-outrageous behaviors. Once that happens, maybe all of us—cyclists and car people and activists and cops—could agree to leave the rolling stop alone.

MEC’s “controversial” plan to sell bikes

I was catching up on some RSS feeds and discovered that MEC is apparently going to start selling bikes in the near future. This is good news, not so much that I am in need of a new bicycle, but because I think it is a natural fit for MEC, who usually do a really good job at balancing sustainability/ethical concerns with those of price. Decat, which is a french sports chain which seems roughly equivalent to MEC (but I presume is for profit), sells bicycles and you can see them pretty much everywhere.

But this paragraph really frustrated me:

MEC is launching bikes stores and a full bike line soon. This is controversial not because of the manner in which the bikes are made but rather in how MEC’s service and pricing model may potentially undercut local dealers.

This speaks to my usual frustration with the Ethical Sourcing blog, which too often seems too nice for its own good. MEC should not apologizing for offering a superior service at a better price, especially if all it proves is that you can do the right thing and still keep prices low.

Besides, while MEC will undoubtedly steal sales in midrange bikes from some smaller stores, I suspect that if people need to buy something more elaborate, they will still go to a traditional bikeshop. Where MEC has the real potential of stealing sales is from the Wal-Mart’s and Canadian Tire’s of the world: places which sell lots of bikes, usually of dismal quality, for not too much money. The challenge for the co-op will be to compete with them, overcoming their advertising and brand advantages, matching or beating the chains on price and beating them in service and product.