Because of reasons, I've been looking at bikes online. I test rode a specific model a few days ago and liked it, but my brain was more interested in another one from the same company which the store did not have, so I went home to research a little more.
Also, there was another store not far in the other direction that carries the same line, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to look there. Now, I've been in that bike shop 3-4 times and always felt like I was an intruder, but I was just looking so if no one stepped up to help, no big deal.
So of course I walk in there today and someone followed me from the door to the side room where I knew they would be. He asked what I was looking for, and I told him: I'm interested in an Electra, either the Townie or the Loft.
He tried to steer me to the front room, because "We have that in a Specialized." (That's a brand, for those who don't know."
"No, I'm specifically interested in Electra."
He pointed to another bike and said, "We have one right here. It's a fun bike."
It was another electric, I didn't look to see what brand, but it was not one of the Electra electrics.
So I had to emphasize: No, not an electric. An Electra. The brand. I was hoping you'd have a Townie and a Loft so I could compare them.
The lightbulb goes off, and I assume this is just a misunderstanding type thing. Electrics are getting more popular and I'm older, so he probably thought that's exactly what I was looking for.
We're in front of the Electras (which I led him to) and he points to different bikes. "This is a single speed. This is a three speed. This is...I dunno, but I could look it up for you." The tag was hanging off the handlebar; it was a Lux 3 speed, not what I was looking for. I again stressed I was interested in 2 specific models, mostly to compare the crank position. I wanted the more forward crank, but I couldn't tell from images online if they shared the same geometry.
He had no clue, but he could look it up, and maybe show me the electrics up front. The $4000 electrics. They're good for old people.
I did not look at the electrics, nor did I have him look anything up. I thanked him for his time, and then headed in the other direction, to the bike shop where I tested the first bike, a Townie 7D.
I walked in, was greeted warmly, and offered a test ride on as many bikes as I wanted. The sales person was a different one from the other day, but just as nice, but more importantly, knows the line well. There was a Loft on the floor and I explained that I'd ridden the 7D but wanted to see if the crank was as forward on the Loft.
She knew right off: no, it's not, and pointed out the difference. So I was asked her about a couple other models, more expensive ones that were not currently in the store. She rattled off answers to every question I had, and when it came down to it she thought that for what I wanted--a crank forward bike for knocking around town--I probably wanted the Townie.
She could have sold me a bike twice as expensive, easily, without much discussion. But she took the time to explain the differences (aside from components, which I can upgrade in the future should I chose to) and to highlight the cons of this bike (real hills might be a problem, it's not a super fast bike, it's a bit heavier than the average frame) but she made sure I knew what I was getting.
There were no snide remarks about my age, either. It's a very popular bike (I knew that) even with the college crowd, and the difference between it and some of the other bikes they sell to students is that people tend to keep them. They're comfortable to ride and as long as you're not in it for speed or competition, it's a keeper. If I decided later to get a Path or Commute (the others I was interested in) they would take the Townie back as a trade in.
I like how the ride felt on my poor abused knees; I wanted one.
The whole point was, kiddos, if you want to make a customer happy, don't make them feel like they're intruding on your day, pay attention to what they're asking for, and for fark's sake, no matter their age, don't call them old. And know your merchandise. I might have been willing to overlook everything else if this kid had been able to answer my questions, and absent that, been willing to get someone who could.
Good thing it's gonna get hot today, because I am suddenly 10 years old and I want my new bike NOW.