Monday, December 31, 2007

Southern Shopping - The Sequel

Holidays are almost done (whew) and within a few days things should slowly get back to normal. Last night I was relaxing on the couch with a nice glass of Australian Chardonnay (Lindemans - I think), and I was thinking back to all the hustle and bustle of the past few weeks.

I stopped by the local music store a few days before Christmas looking for something for my 13-year-old nephew whose a budding musician. As a musician myself (and admitted technology geek), I headed straight to the keyboard department... ‘cause they always have the coolest gear. Terry’s been a fixture there for the past 10 years or so, and I know him well as he’s assisted in emptying my wallet quite a few times. Things weren’t too busy in the store (oddly enough), and we chatted for awhile.

Eventually, we got to talking about the current state of the Canadian dollar and what effects – if any – it was having on business. He admitted that, although they had lowered their prices on many items, more and more people seemed to be buying stuff from Internet music stores. After comparing prices on a few items, I can’t always say that I blame them... and neither could Terry. Nope, the biggest issue he had with Internet shopping is when customers come into his store, and he spends half-an-hour doing a full demo of a keyboard or other gizmo, only to have that same customer walk out the door and order it online to save a few bucks. I’ll admit, if I were in sales that would leave a rather bitter taste in my mouth too.

But here’s where it gets better. Terry’s actually had some people buy stuff off the Internet, then go to his store with the article in question so that he may explain to them how it works! I’ll tell ya, he’s a much more patient man than I. If somebody pulled that kind of crap on me, they’d get a good loud rant right there in the store... which kinda explains why I’m not in sales.

Anyhow, as Ron White would say: I told ya that story so I could tell ya this one.

I can’t help but wonder if the same applies to motorcycles. I admit that I spend way too much time at the local MC dealers during winter, just hanging out and looking at the accessories catalogs, or drooling on the new ’08 models that are starting to come in. Its my therapy for dealing with cabin fever. So I’m trying to imagine how I would react as a dealer if a MC-addict like myself spent countless hours in the store pestering my sales staff, only to turn around and buy the bike across the border.

But then again, I think the frustration would be doubly so. First because I’d feel betrayed by the customer, and secondly because I’m powerless to do anything to counter it. I’ve heard that some American dealers are actually selling motorcycles at less than what the dealer cost is for Canadian dealers.

So for 2008, my prediction is that either the Canadian prices will go down considerably on many motorcycles, or that we’ll continue to see more and more dealers close-up shop.

Another thing I’ve noticed lately is the number of car/motorcycle/atv/snowmobile dealers that have been popping up. I guess this is another way to stay afloat; although I can’t help but wonder if the level of service for motorcyclists is going to be affected somehow by these new mega-dealerships.

No comments: