Being in sales I can understand the approach from Specialized. Theyre looking for key dealers to give them brand exclusivity. Nothing different from what Trek did with the concept stores. Specialized has done a great deal of marketing and branding to elevate the brand in the last couple years. Theyve pursued some of the top riders and teams in the world to showcase bikes, clothing and helmets. In a sport that we constantly see sponsors abandoning and teams merging is the big S really that bad? They Sponser Saxo Bank Tinkoff, OPQ, Astana, Lampre, Lululemon, Sigma Sports, Giant Strawberry Farms and a number of individual athletes. Other brands are starting to emulate Specialized by extending the products they sell to include more than just bicycles. Brands like Scott are now expanding product lines to include helmets, shoes, etc... Im sure they also have a contract with retailers to carry the entire product line up for certain perks to the shop or ownership. I know for a fact in my local area they pulled out of a store because they didnt see the volume they thought the shop would produce. At the end of the day its a business and its all about turning a profit.
I completely understand the practice... but it seems like it would/will have the effect of making an LBS feel more like a big-box store. I also don't like Spec's cookie-cutter approach to bike fitting, accessorizing, trim levels, etc. They're pushing awfully hard for market domination. I just hope that people ultimately push back hard enough.