I shut my office door Friday night on an upbeat note. I’d found a glimmer of positive news in the morning’s Wall Street Journal. (Yes, I read newspapers and yes, I had to look for the glimmer.) But the Dow and Nasdaq had ended the day throwing off a feeble spark of life. And after a few phone calls around the country last week, I’d decided that the bicycle business was a great place to be.
Still, everyone’s re-budgeting numbers and checking them twice. Uncertainty is in the air. But it’s winter. And judging from the Weather Channel it’s been a tough slog throughout much of the nation. So sluggish sales this time of year is more the norm than the exception. But I’m told dealers at last week’s NBDA Super Seminar in Tampa were reporting a robust round of business. Of course, it’s winter; it’s Florida. So it makes sense. Besides, with real estate in the tank, thousands of brokers have to do something with their spare time besides chum for ‘gators.
But if the bike biz is to enjoy a solid year in a crummy economy, then the burden will lie mostly with dealers. Those who work their community—sponsoring clinics, weekend rides, advocacy, paying rapt attention to the women’s market etc.—will do just fine. Those who don’t . . .well, go figure. And despite all the supplier hype about their latest whiz-bang techno features (always amusing), it’s still dealers who have to sell the stuff. And if every one of the some 4,200 dealers in the U.S. shows just a little zest for life in the bicycle lane, we should do just fine.
So I’m off to Colorado for some backcountry skiing in the 10th Mountain Hut system. (Got to try a mountain bike trip there sometime.) No Wi-Fi. No cell phone. No newspapers. And the BRAIN staff is much relieved, I’m sure, especially BRAINboy. Who doesn’t like to see the boss disappear? There’s a lot going on here, so it’s best that I just get out of the way.