I consider my business to be a a healthy mix of high end, boutique bike sales, with no nonsense, a lot of bang-for-your-buck services. I don't expect my clients to be wasteful in how they spend money with me.
A few years ago, when I first began using the infrared motion capture system from Retul, I had 2 clients in quick succession who were having significant saddle problems, and their journey to solving this problem followed fairly similar paths. They both did what most people do, and went to their local bike shop and explained that they were having saddle sores/discomfort and were promptly sold a seat that had proved to be very popular with the shop (for whatever reason). Seat went on the bike; seat was ridden. Discomfort persisted.
They then asked a friend, who recommended another seat -- ordered it online; seat went on the bike. Discomfort persisted. They repeated this at a second and sometimes a third bike shop. They now had a collection of four or five saddles a piece and had spent between $400-$500.
They didn't know each other, but they both came to see me for a bike fitting at the recommendation of a mutual friend within a month of each other, and their fittings went very similar. We had left whatever saddle was on there last for the fitting. We made many adjustments (as usual) to the seat, but also to cleats, bar position and even gave them exercises/stretches to help with imbalances when needed.
This last saddle felt great.
So, fantastic, they had found the saddle that worked for them. As an experiment, I asked them to bring in their "saddle collection" on a few follow ups. I traded out for one saddle and then another and after a week of riding on each in their new position, lo and behold! they all worked pretty well (except for one of them). So really, for the most part, it wasn't the saddle, but the position of the saddle.
I thought this was a pretty cool experiment. Neither client was terribly happy that they had spent hundreds on redundant seats, but they were quite thrilled to finally be comfortable riding their bike long distances again.
So after this experience, I found it ridiculous that there was nowhere that you could test out a new set for a few days at a time without plunking down the cheese to buy it. So I began collecting saddles that were popular with other clients, and pretty soon I had quite a collection. Here are some pictures of just a portion of them:
And I'm going to be adding soon a few from Prologo, San Marco, and possibly Brooks.
The idea behind my new collection -- or saddle library -- is that clients can "check out" a saddle for a week or two, and actually ride it to see if it's compatible for them, rather than just taking someones word for it. When we find that right saddle and we have it in the right position, then they buy. Hopefully, no more wasting a few hundred bucks on saddles that aren't a good fit.