PROVIDENCE, R.I. (BRAIN)—Industry exhibitors reported steady traffic during the first day of Interbike’s Outdoor Demo East held in Providence, Rhode Island.
“Shops brought out people they couldn’t possibly afford to take to Vegas. People who work on the sales floor are getting to ride bikes and go to a show they normally wouldn’t get to,” said Peter Pell, a sales manager with Thule.
The weather held up nicely, with some clouds but little more than a drizzle, for retailers who tested road, mountain and ‘cross bikes on the trail system at Roger Williams Park, located just outside the city.
Representatives from about 60 bike companies gathered at the park for the first Outdoor Demo East. Most said they supported Interbike’s decision to hold a demo on the right coast in addition to Dirt Demo at Bootleg Canyon outside Las Vegas during the trade show.
Some companies, like Niterider, Uvex and Thomson, didn’t exhibit at Dirt Demo, but opted to buy space at Outdoor Demo East.
Even though his company is based in San Diego, nearly 3,000 miles away from Providence, Jack Gresmer, president of Niterider, said he signed up as soon as he heard about the event.
“If (the industry) decides to do these things, we’re going to support them,” Gresmer said.
A few exhibitors said they expected to see more retailers stopping by their booths, but acknowledged the event is in its first year and may take some time to grow.
“I hope they stick with it,” said David Parrett, marketing manager for Thomson. “I’m guessing after the third year, they’d be very happy with it.”
Most of the dealers attending the demo were from the New England region, although some exhibitors reported seeing retailers from as far away as North Carolina, Michigan and Tennessee.
The National Bicycle Dealers Association held two seminars inside the historic casino at the park on Tuesday morning, both of which attracted about 75 retailers, about double what the association expected.
Jim and Diny Sweitzer, owners of West Hill Shop in Putney, Vermont, listened to Tom Shay’s presentation on how to be successful in 2009 despite the country’s economic climate.
Diny Sweitzer said she plans to take Shay’s advice against hunkering down in response to doom and gloom headlines in the newspaper.
“I’m already thinking about some of the cutbacks we made,” Sweitzer said citing reduced employee hours and the decision to close the shop on Sundays. “We may reinstate them.”
Outdoor Demo East continues today.
For a comprehensive overview of the demo, read the November issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.