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Wheel and Sprocket Expo Ushers in Spring

Published April 12, 2009

HALES CORNER, WI (BRAIN)—Wheel and Sprocket’s annual Bike Expo went well this year, but not so well that owner Chris Kegel ended up with a shaved head.

Every year, Kegel promises his staff that they can lop off his signature curly locks if they meet their stretch goal. They were about 12 percent shy this year, although they did hit the regular goal.

About 11,000 people turned out for the four-day expo held April 2-5 in an 80,000-square-foot expo center at the state fairgrounds.

“It went extremely well. We were up over 30 percent over last year,” Kegel said. “People were in good spirits. We’ve had a long winter this year so people had spring fever in a big way.”

One thing that helped this year is the date was several weeks later, which brought nicer weather. Last year, there was 18 inches of snow during the expo.

“There was snow in the forecast on Sunday, but snow never came so we dodged the bullet,” he said.

The hot sellers at this year’s expo were women’s road and hybrid bikes; sales of road and mountain bikes above $5,000 were soft.

The product at the expo is about 70 percent inline inventory and the rest is last year’s stock or special order, Kegel said. In addition to filling the expo center with thousands of bikes, accessories and racks of clothing, Kegel’s vendors also set up booth space to show their wares and talk to consumers.

The big push this year was on advocacy. About 35 local ride organizations exhibited at the expo. More than 500 people signed up for the Ride for the Arts and the Bike Federation of Wisconsin singed up more than 300 new members over the weekend, said Kegel, a well-known proponent for bicycle advocacy in Wisconsin.

This was the expo’s 25th year. Wheel and Sprocket has been in business for 35 years.

—Nicole Formosa

Topics associated with this article: Events

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