COPPER MOUNTAIN, CO (BRAIN)—Despite economic worries and significant price increases the mood among Specialized retailers at its annual dealer event this week is upbeat.
Mike Sinyard set the tempo with his opening address Sunday night. “Even with the challenges in the economy we’ve got the solution,” said Specialized’s president and founder. “I think the opportunities for cycling are more than they’ve ever been at any time.”
More than 600 U.S. Specialized dealers are attending the four-day event at Copper Mountain, Colorado.
Sandi Saenz, Specialized’s dealer event planner, said the event has become increasingly popular as retailers see the value of learning about new lines and programs and riding in a great destination.
“They realize they gain a lot of information and the location is becoming better and better,” Saenz said.
Attendees praised the event organization and location, which consolidated lodging, meals, seminars and riding at the base of Copper Mountain. Dealers could walk out the door of the conference center to pick up bikes and take a chair lift up the mountain or hit the road.
With the base lodge at 9,700 feet, lowlanders could feel the thin air. But Specialized anticipated the effects of altitude sickness and set up an oxygen bar to relieve headaches and other symptoms.
The economy has been causing its fair share of headaches as well, but dealers seem to be managing the pain.
Pam Kruse, co-owner of Village Bike and Fitness in Jenison, Michigan, said although Michigan has the highest unemployment rate in the country, sales at the four-store chain are up this year.
Paco Lindsay, owner of Paco’s Bike & Ski in Truckee, California, said his sales are off a little, but added that his average dollar amount is up as second homeowners in the Lake Tahoe resort area continue to spend money on high-end Roubaix and S-Works models.
Like many retailers, Erik Saltvold of Erik’s Bikes in Minneapolis, Minnesota, said he’s seen a shift from sales of high-end road to pavement bikes and commuter-oriented accessories. He said the commuter trend is positive because it could convert people into lifelong cyclists.
“Hopefully economics will introduce people to cycling, then other benefits will come into play,” Saltvold said.
To satisfy those customers looking for a solution to high gas prices, Specialized has invested for 2009 in its new line of Globe bikes, which offer a practical transportation solution.