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The League and the store "that shall not be named"
One or two people noticed the blurb we put in our e-newsletter on Monday about a National Bike Month promotion by Walmart.
When I say one or two people, I mean about 4,500 bike retailers (many of whom have already dropped us a line or two...); and I mean the good folks at Roadbikerider.com who described the article in apocalyptic terms and will likely generate a new wave of angst. It's nice to know people read the e-news, I guess! (To be fair, roadbikerider ALWAYS reads our e-news and shares stories with their readers, and we love them for it.)
Anyway, the fact is we screwed up. We wanted to highlight our excitement that a retail giant picked up on May being National Bike Month and even built a promotion around it - in fact all we did was forward the promotion. We were equally delighted that AAA marked the launch of the month with a "share the road" news release and story. Walmart and AAA reach a lot of people we usually don't reach and if they are promoting National BIke Month, we think that's a good thing. Mark Graff at smartetailing.com submitted the article we SHOULD have used to make this point, and we have put that in the archive edition of the e-news you can read here.
We'll need to mend a few fences with retailers over this furore; we know there's a huge sensitivity when it comes to the mass merchant channel and that we likely would have heard from a few retailers even with the right language in the article. The League is and always has been a staunch ally and promoter of IBDs in all that we do. I've done a couple of dozen radio and TV interviews this month and always encourage listeners to visit their local bike shop to buy or maintain their bikes. Our education programs all point people to their local bike shop for equipment and repairs - we've even developed two specific education curricula with the National Bicycle Dealers Association designed to be taught at bike shops by bike shop staff. I'm a lousy bike mechanic...I need there to be bike shops, and lots of them.
At the same time, if we are going to get more people riding bikes more often and more safely, as a national advocacy group we are going to have meet people where they are at...and a lot of current and potential cyclists shop at Walmart and will never currently set foot in a bike shop. Our job, our responsibility, is to reach those people as well. We just need to do it without simultaneously irritating our core supporters.