BY NICOLE FORMOSA
BLOOMINGTON, MN—Nearly 1,500 retailers and vendors brushed aside Minnesota’s single-digit temperatures to meet and mingle at Quality Bicycle Products annual trade fair.
The company hosted 1,064 retailers from 349 stores at a full slate of seminars during a two-day tradeshow at its eco-friendly headquarters. Some 142 vendors had products on display.
Several of QBP’s newest vendors made their first appearance including Yakima, Burley and Nuun, an industry newcomer with its hydration tablets.
Yakima solidified a deal with QBP in mid-January, opening up the opportunity to service more dealers, said Ron Ten Berge, Yakima’s vice president of sales and development.
“There are a lot of dealers here who will only buy from QBP and if they didn’t attend Interbike or Outdoor Retailer they wouldn’t have seen our new products,” he said.
For most vendors, Frostbike is less about launching new products and taking orders and more about using the event’s casual atmosphere to spend time building relationships with dealers who are often rushed at Interbike.
A few, though, capitalized on the first-string audience by introducing never-seen-before products. DeFeet showcased its new line of women-specific socks.
“I wanted to take the opportunity to offer something new and fresh and to remind dealers to keep DeFeet in their selling cycle,” said Christina DeKraay, DeFeet’s national sales manager.
Retailers said they appreciate the laid-back show and the seminars that covered strategies for success in advocacy,
profitability and environmental sustainability.
Scott Wilke, of South Shore Cyclery in Cudahy, Wisconsin, attended a class on critical elements to include in an employee handbook. “We’re about ready to do something like that, not this year, but next year. It’s on the list of things that have to get done so it’s interesting to see some of the common problems people had in developing one,” Wilke said.
For the first time, QBP moved Friday’s invitation-only seminars to the Sheraton Hotel due to space constraints.
“Going offsite was a big deal for us, although it took an enormous amount of stress off of everybody because the hotel did the catering, the hotel made sure the seminar rooms were ready, the chairs were moved and everybody had a microphone,” said Todd Cravens, director of sales and customer service.
Another new vendor was The Biking Solution, a third-party company and QBP partner. Steve Flagg, QBP’s founder and president, said an initiative this year is to offer retailers a store display design package through The Biking Solution, which hosts training seminars and offers operational and advertising services to boost retailers’ bottom lines.
In the past, QBP has worked with SmartEtailing and with GE Money to offer a consumer-financing program to its dealers. Since then about 150 shops have signed on, said Dennis Murphy, a GE vice president.
QBP gave out its annual Clay Mankin Award for Excellence in advocacy, awareness and dealer education. This year the honor went to Charlie McCorkell, owner of New York City’s Bicycle Habitat.