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Cycling apparel OK at new trade show, organizer clarifies

Published December 16, 2019

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (BRAIN) — More details are emerging about The Big Gear Show, a trade and consumer show planned for next July in Salt Lake City. 

A group that has organized a paddlesports industry trade show the last two years in Oklahoma City announced the new show last week. The group hopes to attract bike industry exhibitors and retailers; the National Bicycle Dealers Association has endorsed the show and will organize retailer education opportunities there.

The Big Gear Show will incorporate the paddlesport show and add bike and outdoor sports elements. The focus, especially for the outdoor sports, is on hardgoods, including camping and climbing gear. 

But co-founder Sutton Bacon clarified to BRAIN that bicycle clothing and footwear vendors will be welcome at the event. He also shared some early details on how the event will provide travel incentives to retailers who attend the show.

Unlike most trade shows familiar to the bike industry, The Big Gear Show will be curated, meaning organizers will decline to accept exhibitors who they feel distract from the show's focus. The show will not accept exhibitors in the casual outdoor apparel segment, Bacon said.

"We don't want to be another apparel and footwear show for lifestyle-oriented brands," he said. 

"We understand that for biking, softgoods are really gear that you wear, and those exhibitors will be welcome."

Bacon also said that he was "probably being a little flippant" with a statement in an online show FAQ that implied CBD brands would be unwelcome at the show.

"(O)ur brand mix is going to be highly curated," the FAQ read. "We welcome equipment, hardgoods, accessories, and a limited assortment of extremely technical footwear and apparel brands. No George Foreman grills, CBD oil, or offshore knock-off artists who don't respect our industry's intellectual property."

While CBD is becoming a phenomenon nationally, several brands specialize in selling to the cycling market and Bacon said they would be allowed at the show.

"We get that CBD is part of the performance and recovery aspect of cycling," Bacon told BRAIN on Friday. 

Organizers are promoting the show as being "for retailers, by retailers."

Bacon is the former CEO of the Nantahala Outdoor Center, a North Carolina-based business that includes a 500-acre outdoor area and several retail stores. The retail store at the main outdoor center is a Specialized bicycle dealer.

Show co-founder Darren Bush is the owner of Rutabaga Paddlesports, a Madison, Wisconsin, retailer. He also produces Canoecopia, a Wisconsin paddlesport expo. 

Bacon and his partners acknowledge that they come primarily from the paddlesport industry and still need to learn some of the details of how the bike market works. 

Bacon said organizers are still working out details of a program to reimburse Big Gear Show retailers for some travel expenses.

"We have funds set aside for some retail travel incentives. In the past (at the paddlesport show) qualified retailers who register by certain dates and who then attend were provided with a lodging stipend after the show. It's been very successful at the paddle show ... it's part of our intent to be able to tell potential exhibitors that we have a certain number of qualified retailers who plan to attend."

Bacon said show organizers will likely release more details in January. He said the show hopes to attract about 450 exhibitors, including 150 paddlesport exhibitors and the rest split between bicycle and outdoor providers.

"At the end of the day we are very excited to be able to welcome bike and all the other categories into our big tent," he said. 

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