What is the goal of a bike shop? Or rather, what should be the goal of a bike shop? I have found the answer to this question is the difference between enjoying your local shop or hating it. Any retail establishments goal should be to fill a niche in the market by providing what the markets customers want and need. For shops, this is not limited to goods though because often times services are required.
I have been to dozens of bike shops, in states all over. With very few exceptions, they all seem to have determined what will sell in their area and they carry those products, which shows they're taking their selling seriously. However, because it is a two sided coin, service is an equal piece, and most shops I have been to do not take it seriously.
When a customer walks into a store, they are there for a reason. Sometimes its to buy a bike, sometimes it is to ask a question, and others they are there to kill time. A shop employee should take that into account and be ready to help them do any and all of those things. I've wandered into shops looking for details about a specific component group and found that the staff "doesn't know" nor do they offer to find out. "I ride single speed bikes so I don't know about that group." Really? That is your idea of serving a customer?
On the flip side, there are countless shops that have been absolutely abused by bike teams and racers. For whatever reason, these folks think they are entitled to some level of treatment that is a cut above the rest of the world. They expect employees to bend over backwards for them, to talk to them about racing for hours, or to give them free gear. If you're one of those people, think about this for a moment: I went to Best Buy yesterday. I've been there a hundred times over the years and the employees know me well. I ask them when they're going to start giving me free installation on my home theater system in return for my loyalty -- can you imagine how that would go over?
Sponsorship is a different animal, but if you're a sponsored athlete your entire agreement with the shop hangs on them making something from you. There should be a way that they are benefitting from the relationship. Walking in like you own the place is NOT what you are entitled to do if you are sponsored by them! Remember the economics of your relationship and don't abuse it.
Joe's Bike Shop is one shop I have found in particular that I really enjoy using. They encapsulate what I've said above and treat their customers with respect, serve them well, try their best to meet their needs and are friendly in the process. They don't even really know me, but every time I go in, they have exceptional service and have answers to all of my questions without any thought as to what kind of cyclist I am.
If you're in the Baltimore area, I highly recommend them.