DEER VALLEY, UT (BRAIN)—Tracy Player, a category manager for Cambria Bicycle Outfitter, and Vern Ward, owner of Bob’s Bicycles in Boise, Idaho, gave DealerCamp’s inaugural event an enthusiastic A+.
Ward described his two-day visit as “excellent,” adding that in his opinion “it’s the up and coming thing.” What impressed Ward and others was time spent discussing product lines—often with the company’s owner or top management.
“There was just a lot of one-on-one time. It’s a very comfortable atmosphere. I just rode a NuVinci (a Breezer mated with a NuVinci hub) and we’re ordering some. We’ve got a two-acre parking lot for customers to test ride them on and I think we’ll sell a lot,” he said.
Player, who manages product for four stores plus cambriabike.com, said all he had done since arriving at DealerCamp was ride bikes. “For us dealers this is a fantastic event. I don’t demo bikes at Interbike anymore, it’s just too hectic. This is such a relaxed atmosphere,” Player said.
Another dealer, Joe Wentzell, of Breakaway Bikes and Training Center in Philadelphia, came to DealerCamp and will join Giant’s dealer event, which opens today just a few miles from here. “I really like the feel of this; it’s not overwhelming. And I love the location,” said Wentzell, who brought his family and had taken his two children, ages 6 and 9, whitewater rafting the day before.
While retailers gave it high marks, among the 28 exhibitors who set up tents and racked hundreds of bikes it was a slightly different story. When asked how they would grade DealerCamp, the dozen or so who were asked gave it a solid B.
For example, Lance Donnell, president of Sinclair Imports, was unhappy with attendance but also acknowledged that he may not have had the right product mix for an event where dealers headed for the hills—literally—to ride bikes.
And Preston Martin, co-owner of BTI, a Santa Fe, New Mexico, distributor, voiced similar concerns, especially over attendance. While dealers spent time checking out his line of Cinelli road bikes, Comencal and Voodoo mountain bikes, other products failed to attract much interest. Still, Martin said he would consider a return next year.
Lois Mabon, Gore’s product manager for RideOn cables, said she took an $850 order the first day from Tribe Multisport, a Scottsdale, Arizona, retailer. Mabon also took the opportunity to meet with suppliers to boost OE interest in Gore’s cables.
In the booth next door, Jan Corbett, vice president of sales for DeFeet, said she was equally pleased dealer interest in DeFeet products.
And so it went at DealerCamp. A superb venue where dealers could saddle up on a broad range of mountain bikes, hitch a ride on a nearby chairlift, and disappear over miles of mountain bike trails. Or they could take a road bike and spin up a nearby mountain that offered a spectacular view of this verdant valley just a few miles from Park City.
Yet for exhibitors, attendance was lighter than expected—or had hoped for. Still, most said they recognized it was a first-time event and that its founder, Lance Camisasca, had a few details to iron out. And while they wish there had been more dealers, most wrote a few orders, met new dealers and enjoyed lengthy conversations with them.
Mike Skop, president and owner of Blue Competition Bicycles, summed up what some other exhibitors were saying. “We knew this event was going to be slower, so we had to make a kind of mental adjustment from the frenetic activity at (Interbike’s) Outdoor Demo,” he said.
Skop said his staff wrote orders, met with new dealers and that overall his investment in DealerCamp may have paid off. “We don’t have a clear picture just yet. We’ve written orders and when we finally tally things up, I think we will see it was a success,” Skop said.
Scott Nicol, president of Ibis, was especially pleased. Ibis mountain bikes spent more time on the mountain than on the rack. “It’s been great for us,” said Nicol, whose iconic brand occupies a near myth-like stature in the pantheon of mountain bike brands. These small events, where dealers can spend time with the brand, fits the Ibis strategy, he said.
But there was more to DealerCamp than bicycles. Patrick Diller, bike sales manager for Osprey, a premium maker of packs, was pleased with dealer response to its new line of cycling packs. Osprey, one of DealerCamp’s sponsors, had a pack filled with schwagg placed in every dealer’s hotel room.
“We were looking for something like this to set off our brand,” he said. “I’d have to give DealerCamp a solid B. It was well run and the retailers we’ve seen were top shelf,” he added. Diller also ran a demo program for its new line of hydration packs and dealers had taken out several dozen for testing.
Mike Pederson, QBP’s brand manager for Lazer helmets, said it would be unfair to compare this event to Interbike’s Outdoor Demo. “We’re trying to talk with people about our helmets and that’s been really good for us,” he said. “I was hoping for more gold-level dealers, but still it’s been a really good event,” he added.
Camisasca, in a brief interview as exhibitors were tearing down, was visibly relieved to have pulled off the event. “I’m thrilled the dealers rated it so high,” he said. “And I’ll take a solid B anytime if that’s what exhibitors are saying.”
According to preliminary numbers, the event brought in 140 unique retail businesses, 240 retailers and staff of whom 53 percent described themselves as either an owner, manager or buyer. Retailers came from 31 states as well as the District of Columbia and one dealer came from Alberta Province in Canada. Overall, about 450 people were at the event.
(PHOTO: Vern Ward of Bob's Bicycles in Boise, Idaho, and Patrick Cunnane, president of Advanced Sports, meet at DealerCamp)