I’ve been telemarketing for the last six weeks. Unlike most telemarketers, I love this job. Selling my stuff to bike retailers means catching up with old friends, swapping cycling, parenting and golfing stories, and… selling my stuff.
It’s been an especially interesting year to talk to retailers, with the economic turmoil swirling about. Every conversation begins and ends with, “How are you doing? What are you hearing?”
Especially curious are my homies in the Midwest, who had absolutely atrocious December and January weather. Paul Kozy in Chicago and Bill Randen at Penn Cycle and Chris Bishop in Columbus, Ohio are looking for good news from the South.
And there’s plenty of good news to be had. Not, “We’re blowing the doors off,” road-bike boom news, but solid starts pretty much across the board in California, Texas and Florida. And compared to Wall Street or retail in general, we’re more than holding our own.
Here’s a quote from Mike Olson, owner of the three Trek Superstores in San Diego: “We were up 11 percent in February and are up 16 percent so far in 2009. I’m really happy with that.” This from a guy who told me in October, “It’s a disaster. Californians have stopped spending money!”
Charlie Skerlecz at Cal Coast Bicycles in central San Diego is seeing similar growth. “We’re up for the year, January was better than February,” Skerlecz said. “We would have beat last year’s February if we had 29 days instead of 28.”
Anyway, the usual caveats apply. January and February do not a season make. I tend to talk to larger, market-leading retailers, and I can’t say much about how The Little Guys are doing.
But from this telemarketer’s perspective, there’s a lot of reason for optimism. There you go, Paul, Bill and Chris! Better news than you’re getting from the thermometer!