Just looking for some feedback here... I (and for now at least one potential partner) have been toying with the idea of setting up a buyer's club, or something to that effect, here on the site. Basically, it would be a forum for merchants of bike-stuff to give Podium Cafe readers special discounts. Specifics aside, the mechanics of it would be handled in a way that would give people notice when offers come in, but done so as not to interfere with our otherwise non-commercial content.
Now, let me be clear here: I know people don't come here to buy stuff or be pitched to by anyone. I also suspect that a lot of us buy what we need through our own clubs. However, cyclists need gear, and if there are people trying to sell us (a decent-sized community) good stuff at prices you can't find someplace else... that's good, right?
How it would work is that sellers could pitch to me offline something they want to offer. If I think it's a deal people can't find elsewhere with a modicum of effort, then I would put an alert into a post, but then put all the details into a space on a special page (up in the Menu sidebar).
If people are interested in whatever is for sale, they would contact the seller on their own (i.e. clickthrough from the special page), utter the magic words "podium cafe," and receive the very special, secret price. All I would commit to the seller is to take their offer and post it on the site. Obviously I would never ever give sellers any information about readers or authorize them to contact people directly. If you like whatever's for sale, you can initiate contact yourself.
If people aren't interested, they could simply ignore the whole thing (and this is the key for me -- this can't detract from the Podium Cafe experience in any real way). In most or all cases orders wouldn't need to be coordinated, as in we need to buy 50 of this saddle before getting a price break -- that would be too complicated.
My $.02 is that this could be a good thing for all. It wouldn't be a problem for the not-interested crowd, it would help those interested get stuff they were thinking about buying anyway, at a better price, sellers would get a chance to reach potential customers pretty much for free, and for me it would be a good marketing tool which would probably generate some ads too.
Thoughts?? Be blunt! [Click entry link to take the poll.]