PROVIDENCE, RI (BRAIN)—Outdoor Demo East opens its doors today at 9 a.m. Show organizers are betting on earlier dates, better weather and a two-day consumer fest over the weekend in hopes this fledgling show could grow into an established event.
And the 55 exhibitors who set up tents yesterday, as blustery winds blew away the early morning rain, hope enough dealers and consumers come to this historic 427-acre park just south of Providence over the next four days to justify the time and expense.
“The mood is very enthusiastic,” said Andy Tompkins, Interbike’s show director as he visited with exhibitors throughout the day. “They’re excited about meeting with dealers and they are enthusiastic about seeing consumers this weekend."
This is Interbike’s second year hosting the outdoor demo at Roger Williams Park, the third oldest city park in the nation. Last year the event ran October 21 - 22 without consumer days. This year, besides the two-day trade expo, Interbike has teamed with local race promoters to help host this weekend’s Providence Cyclo-Cross Festival.
Race promoters hope to attract upwards of 3,000 visitors each day at this UCI-ranked event, a potential bonanza of visitors for exhibitors eager to show off new products. For Interbike, this is its first serious effort at trying to combine a low-key trade show with consumer days.
“This is our first consumer event,” Tompkins said. “And it’s a chance to influence consumers.” For Tompkins and Interbike’s staff, it’s a wait-and-see moment. But last year, exhibitors urged Interbike to add a consumer function to the trade expo, Tompkins said.
Still, fewer exhibitors signed up this year. Last year, approximately 65 companies staked out some 60,000 square feet of space. But with last year’s late October dates, cold wind and rain raked the show grounds forcing some companies to fold up their tents early on the second day.
For retailers, the National Bicycle Dealers Association is hosting several seminars today ranging from “Strategies that Grow Revenue and Profit During Lean Times” and “Five Things You Need to Stop Doing, and Five Things You Need to Start Doing to Survive the Recession.” The League of American Bicyclists also introduces a new program for dealers to teach safe riding to their customers.
Weather is still a concern and Mother Nature will play a key role in whether this four-day trade and consumer expo is a success.
Tompkins and his crew were at the park by 6:30 a.m. Wednesday. “It was dark and it was raining, but by 9 a.m. it had cleared up and we had a beautiful day,” he said. Today’s weather is expected to be cool but sunny. Friday will bring a mixture of sun, clouds and scattered showers. But the weekend promises to be mostly dry with cool temperatures and mild winds.