PROVIDENCE, RI (BRAIN)—Shannon Austin, standing outside J&B Importers tent as Outdoor Demo East’s first day came to a close, summed up the general mood among most exhibitors: “It’s not quite as busy as last year, but the weather is a whole lot better.”
Yes, retail attendance was down but the sun shone Thursday, dealers spent time with exhibitors, and attendees rode bikes on carefully flagged trails at Roger Williams Park.
But for Austin (pictured), J&B’s northeast rep, yesterday’s expo gave him a chance to focus dealer attention on J&B’s proprietary bike lines, Sunlight and Origin8. “I saw more of my East Coast dealers here than in Las Vegas,” he said. But, Austin added, he’s unsure whether exhibitors need two trade days.
Still, like others, Austin is pinning his hopes on the weekend’s festival and cyclo-cross events to bring in consumer traffic.
Jason Grantz, Cane Creek’s marketing director, said, “We’re really interested in seeing what happens on the weekend.” Overall, Grantz was generally “pleased” with Thursday’s traffic.
“It’s not a Sea Otter, but it’s OK. The quality of the discussions we had with dealers was very valuable.” It was also a chance for Grantz to ask dealers what could Cane Creek do better. But like Austin and others he wants to see robust consumer attendance Saturday and Sunday.
Chris Zigmont, president of Pedro’s, described the event as “what a trade show should be.” Outdoor Demo East is held in a comfortable environment where retailers and staff can ride bikes and take time to talk with exhibitors. “We’ve had some terrific discussions here and we’ve been pretty busy in the booth, but it takes time to build a good event,” he said.
Thule’s Peter Pell described the park as a “spectacular” location for the event. “I think it’s been good for dealers who live within a 125-mile radius of here. They can send their shop staff and that’s good—it gives them a feeling that they are part of the industry,” Pell said.
Several exhibitors said they fear that today’s expo could be lightly attended since many dealers had come Thursday to also attend the National Bicycle Dealers Association’s business seminars. None are scheduled for Friday. Fred Clements, the NBDA’s executive director, said more than 180 people sat through this year’s round of seminars.
Others pointed out that many East Coast retailers could stay home Friday to prepare for the three-day Columbus Day weekend when some stores hold major end-of-the-season sales and use the weekend to kick off the winter season.
Andy Tompkins, Interbike’s show director, said approximately 500 people registered for the Thursday’s event. But Tompkins, like exhibitors, is keeping an eye on the weather. Today’s forecast, as well as the weekend forecast, is generally favorable.