I spend alot of time in bike shops. Sometimes, I drop in to just say "hi", but really it's an excuse to find people who will talk about bikes. Whenever I travel I seek out a bike shop. The smell, the look... everything about it. There's nothing like a bike shop. An opportunity to immerse myself in my one true addicting... cycling. In return, I buy something. A tube, a pair of socks, a t-shirt, something.
As consumers, cyclists are always looking for a deal. Really though we're looking for the "deal." The discount. You know, the "super-bro-down-low" deal. We know there is a mark up on everything and we want to get things for less than retail. This is only human, but in doing so we could kill the very hand that feeds us.
The internet has emerged as great sources for the things we need: replacement parts, shiny bling-bling seats etc. The internet sellers can buy in much larger quantities than your local shop can, thereby getting a lower cost so they can sell each piece for less and still make a profit.
But, what about the people, the relationships. I would rather have to spend a little more cash, but have a place I can go to talk bikes. The bike retail business is tough. The margins on alot of items like wheels is tight. Anytime I get a deal, I say thank-you and when I don't I still say thank-you.