02 Dec 2019

Opinions:

Shopping Local Supports Us All

Loren Copsey is the owner of The Daily Rider, a Washington, D.C., bike shop on H Street NE. He owns it with his wife, Beth Rogers.

I was already considering writing something about Cyber Monday while riding into the shop this morning and then saw this tweet by The Hill is Home:

An online shopper myself, I just purchased a part for our washing machine not available locally this weekend. I understand the convenience and the necessity of having goods delivered.

My Virginia farming grandparents shopped in the virtual marketplace of the Sears catalog and purchased farm equipment by mail order. The availability of goods from retailers outside of their small town gave them a diversity of options that weren’t otherwise available to them. When they needed the horses shod, the local blacksmith came out and took care of their herd.

Loren Copsey and Beth Rogers. Photo courtesy of The Daily Rider

As the owners of The Daily Rider, we never imagined that we would be sharing a building with what small retailers like us consider to be an elemental threat to their survival. When Amazon purchased Whole Foods, the virtual world stepped onto our block in a very real way. Our neighbors, Solid State Books, expressed similar feelings. We often say, “The internet can’t fix your bike”, and believe that our experience and skills are more valuable than a how-to video.

Running a small retail business in 2019 is a labor of love and a demanding job. I took a substantial pay cut to create and maintain this shop. All of our employees earn $15 an hour or more. To pay more, our service rates will go up next year. Every one of of our employees is a District resident and faces the same high cost of living. We’re watching with no joy as other retailers from our industry close up shop. The closure this past Sunday of District Hardware and Bike was especially difficult to see as they mark the end of a
proud 50-year history. Although we can’t point to the exact reasons for their closure, we can see where our customers are spending money when they’re not shopping with us. In that store there
were decades of hard earned knowledge and expertise that cannot be substituted with an online product review.

We know our customers shop online. We’re familiar enough with certain online purchased bikes to reference our experiences for customers making comparisons. We can size you for a bike or a helmet and want you to be happy with the purchase. Small, local retailers know that they’ll see
you again. Also, your feedback helps them make decisions about what products they should carry.

Next day delivery is a waste of resources. Instead of one delivery to a single shop, it creates hundreds of deliveries to individuals. It squanders precious street space with extra vehicle miles traveled, causes trucks to double-park (often in the bike lanes) and causes unnecessary packaging to enter the waste stream. The treatment of warehouse workers is well-documented enough to not repeat here. (But you can read this story from The Atlantic and think twice about your next order. ––MHC)

So if you’re shopping this Cyber Monday, consider whether a local retailer that might have the same item, or might be willing to order it for you. In our shop we make weekly orders that can access almost anything you need for a bike with delivery that week. We’re here all year and live in your community. We donate to the schools and organizations you support. We’re present at community meetings and speak up regularly. We want to live in a city where there is a diverse selection of shopping and dining options and hope that you do as well.


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