In general, Mr PoP and I are fairly frugal people. We’re no extreme couponers, but we definitely keep an eye on our spending and try to make sure that we’re getting a good value for the money that we do spend.
Because of that, you might be surprised that we recently just knowingly overspent on a purchase of about $110. We walked into the local bike shop and were not our typical shopping selves. Instead of researching all of our purchases online and aiming to get the best possible deal, we went in and said things like, “We want the complete solution” and “Can I buy another one of those, too?”
What Happened? My First Bike Flat
Last week, on my bike ride to work, I got my first flat tire ever. Honestly, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Luckily the flat happened when I was just a little more than a mile from my office (my commute is 9 miles, so this was a good place for it to happen), and I just walked my bike the rest of the way to work on the sidewalk. Heck, I usually get to work about an hour before the rest of the office, so I didn’t even arrive “late” by most standards.
Fixing it wasn’t even that big of a deal. One of my coworkers who is a pretty hardcore rider on the weekends showed me how to get my tire off. It was the rear tire, so I was nervous about the chain. Then on the way to the gym with a colleague at lunch, we dropped my tire off at the local bike shop. It was fixed and ready for pickup by the end of our workout, and $21 later I had a tire ready for action again.
All in all, the flat and the repair went as smooth as possible. I really can’t complain. But it was a bit of a wakeup call that life can and will happen at inconvenient times, so…
We Purchased a Flat Kit
This last weekend we went into the local bike shop (even knowing we were already over the “shopping budget” for the month) and went nuts. We bought:
- A seat bag – I call it a “butt wedge”, a small pouch that you mount under your seat to store things like spare tubes and supplies
- Tire levers – to help remove a flat tire from the rim
- Two spare tubes for my bike
- A spare roll of rim tape since a hole in my rim tape was the cause of my flat earlier in the week
- A small hand pump with a built in pressure gauge that mounts on the bike (though this will be exchanged and a pricier CO2 cartridge model will probably be purchased)
We didn’t even look at the prices when we were picking things out. These items, along with the repair earlier in the week meant we spent about $110 at the local bike shop, mostly on supplies that we no doubt could have found online, had shipped (probably even free of charge) to our front door and spent a lot less.
So Why Didn’t We Go For Value?
On the surface it looks like we totally ignored our priority of getting the best value out of our dollars. After all, we could have spent less and gotten the exact same products.
But there was something intangible about our purchase as well. We supported our local bike shop, a shop we know in turn supports the local biking community. They offer free clinics (I’ll be attending one on fixing a flat in a couple weeks!), and are huge advocates of cycling safety and awareness in our area.
In fact, one of the reasons that the route I use to commute to work on my bike is so pleasant is because of the work of the local cycling community. When a bridge was being redone along this route just a few years ago, the cycling community was very active in advocating for additional biking space on the bridge. As a result, the bike bridge is awesome. It’s safe and a seamless way to negotiate that area on a bike without worrying about cars. I’ve been enjoying it about 10x per week since I started riding again and I hope to continue enjoying and appreciating it for years to come.
They’re continuing this bike advocacy all the time, and now I’m noticing that all the newer construction that is being completed has nice wide cycling lanes compared to some of the older roads with skinny and/or non-existent cycling lanes.
We look at “overpaying” for bike supplies from these local shops as a way to keep supporting a priority we care about and appreciate. And that adds to the intangible value in our book. Same goes for “overpaying” at:
- local running shops (I try to only buy shoes online when what I want isn’t available locally)
- local music shops (could we bulk buy Mr PoP’s guitar strings for less online? Probably)
- local restaurants (not chains!)
There’s a noticeable price premium we pay to bring our business to these local enterprises, especially when you start looking at “no tax” options (which shouldn’t really be no tax) by buying from retailers in other states. But we really do look at it as a way to help ensure the things we care about stay in our community. It’s our way of “voting with our dollars”.
I’m sure we’re not the only ones that do this. So where do you “overpay” intentionally?