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Retailers near and far make trip to CycloFest

Published October 21, 2016

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (BRAIN) — CycloFest seemed a natural draw for retailers in the immediate region who might view the Vegas trade show as a trip too far while their shops are still busy in September. But the event’s 100-plus exhibitors and slate of educational sessions — plus a network of world-class trails — inspired several retailers to trek a half-day or more to the event’s first edition.

Garfield Cooper, owner of Zencog Bicycle Company in Jacksonville, Florida, has attended Interbike’s Vegas show eight times, typically every other year, but opted for CycloFest this year after the new trade and consumer festival was announced. So on Wednesday evening Cooper closed up his 983-square-foot shop and drove six hours hours through the night to Charlotte — “I took a little nap time in a truck stop parking lot,” he said — for Thursday’s opening day.

“We did some education and rode some bikes. My lines are pretty solid, so it’s more about enhancing what I’m doing with my current suppliers,” he said.

West Chester Cyclery owner J.B. Hutton drove more than seven hours from his Cincinnati shop even though only one of his bike suppliers, Raleigh, was exhibiting at CycloFest. But CycloFest’s timing and relatively convenient location brought him to Charlotte. “Interbike’s just at the wrong time” he said.

More locally, Motion Makers owner Kent Cranford brought a dozen staffers to the festival’s opening day from his two shops in Asheville and Sylva, North Carolina. And Performance Bicycle, the 100-plus-store retail chain based about two hours away in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, bused in about 30 employees. 

Many retailers said they were impressed with the venue and the quality of its 25-plus-mile trail network. Lance Stonecipher, owner of Bike Loft in Syracuse, New York, said CycloFest has so far exceeded his expectations. "It's a lot better of a show than we thought it would be. There are more vendors and much more to see than we expected," he said.

"This allowed me to bring more employees than I can if I go to Interbike. We closed the shop for two days, but we'll stay for the whole event. We came to see new product and we're going to attend some seminars tomorrow morning. Today was more of a recon mission for us,” added Stonecipher, who has owned Bike Loft since 1984.

Dasia Cyling owner Manouk Bakker and her husband traveled to CycloFest from Curacao, an island country about 60 miles off the coast of Venezuela. The couple opened Dasia Cycling 10 years ago after moving there from the Netherlands. Although they've made the journey to Las Vegas in the past, this year they decided to attend CycloFest because it’s more convenient ."It was much closer to us than Las Vegas, so we decided to do this instead of Interbike," said Bakker, who worked as a diving instructor before opening Dasia. "We made a trip of it and will tour around the Southeast for a few days before flying back to the island."

CycloFest continues with a second trade-only day Friday, followed by two consumer days Saturday and Sunday.

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