Apparently a large sports retailer getting into the bike business is somehow a no-no?
Mountain Equipment Co-op, which has built its retailing reputation on a feel-good image of environmental and social responsibility, has ignited anger in an unlikely place – the bicycle industry.
Its foray this month into bike selling has been criticized by rival specialty retailers for everything from unfair competition because of its tax-exempt status, to a Wal-Mart-style money grab, to unethical sourcing.
Bike enthusiasts' ire toward MEC intensified when an executive at the non-profit chain slammed the bike industry in a blog on the company's website, calling it “grey, dusty and dirty.” The blog entry was later removed.
Some bike-parts suppliers have even refused to ship to MEC, while one Quebec distributor last month dropped a major Canadian parts manufacturer from its roster because the supplier is selling to MEC.
“It's no different to me than somebody buying a product at Wal-Mart that they could buy at their local mom-and-pop store,” says Pete Lilly, owner of Sweet Pete's Bike Shop in Toronto and former president of the Bicycle Trade Association of Canada, which represents suppliers and retailers in the estimated $1-billion industry.
“Independent bicycle retail offers something very different than Mountain Equipment Co-op can,” Mr. Lilly says.
No disrespect to Pete Lilly, but different types of people shop at different kinds of stores. Does he have the same objection to Canadian Tire selling bikes?
Should only independent retailers sell bikes? Why?