LAS VEGAS, NV (BRAIN) — You, who left your air-conditioned room one morning last week, walked through the gently perfumed, climate-controlled corridors, and stopped for your half-caff latte at the Starbucks along the way (extra ice, please!) before strolling into the cool confines of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, might have spared nary a thought for the people who, right then, were sweating in The Paddock.
The Paddock was Interbike’s outdoor exhibition space. Outdoors. On a parking lot. In Las Vegas.
“This is like having a booth on the surface of the sun. It’s so hot!” said Jessica Fischer of Onda, which makes colorful bike trailers.
Fischer and her colleagues set up a makeshift water mister to keep the booth cool, but did a lot of commiserating with fellow vendors.
Many exhibitors said they were put in The Paddock because they registered too late, or got bumped from the main floor because Interbike couldn’t fit everyone in.
Despite a DJ cranking music, a big food tent and beer sales, Paddock exhibitors said traffic was slow, although it picked up Thursday.
“If there was the traffic, the outdoor aspect would be great. It can’t be an afterthought of the entire organization. It needs to be integrated in the whole structure,” said Bryson Martin, owner of DVO Suspension. DVO’s tent was far from the door, even though there were acres of empty spaces between his booth and others.
Nearby at Staats, senior vice president Ted Saville said the long walk from the door discouraged visitors.
“We’re at the far end,” Saville said. “By the time people got this far out, their feet were melting, they were hot and they were like, ‘You know what, we’re going back inside.’ ”
Staats, which was relaunched this year under new ownership, got the word out to its key customers and distributors.
“All of our international guys are coming to see us here,” Saville said. “They’ve come halfway around the world and they’re going to come and find us.”
For some exhibitors, The Paddock was perfect for their products. Reboot sells a hydration product and also gave away hats and sunglasses, so they were a popular stop.
Still, the Reboot staff had to take precautions.
“We took the washcloths out of the hotel to soak in our cooler,” said Sarah Acker, Reboot’s marketing director. “We have a squirt gun and we have a squirt fan.”
She’d rather be indoors. “We have a really nice booth that we weren’t able to use out here,” Acker said.
Exhibitors who had bikes to test ride were generally positive, with some saying the asphalt test track was longer and more realistic than the indoor track at the Sands.
Paul Donohoe of Pete’s Electric Bikes said he was ready to call it quits after the first show day because hardly anyone came to test ride bikes. Things changed on the second day.
“Right off the bat this morning traffic was up,” Donohoe said Thursday. “I think the word was out. I think people covered the floor first yesterday before coming in here. They wanted to do indoors before doing outdoors.”
He added, “We were overwhelmed and didn’t have enough helmets and didn’t have enough bikes for a while.”
At Electra, which was hosting test rides of its Townie Go electric bike, Josh Schlee was putting a positive face on the Paddock experience. From about 80 test rides on the first day, Schlee expected more than 100 visitors to take the Townie Go out on the track Thursday.
“Just stay in the shade and keep it made,” Schlee said. “What do we do? We build fun for all these people. So enjoy. Put a smile on everybody’s face.”
For other Paddock exhibitors, the smiles were forced.
“No matter what you do, we’re still outside in Las Vegas,” Onda’s Jessica Fischer said. “This is not going to be the optimal place to be. Ever.”