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CABDA show eyes expansion into other regions

Published February 14, 2018
About 1,400 retail attendees were counted on the first day of CABDA.
Exhibitors happy with new venue, foot traffic.

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (BRAIN)  CABDA show director Jim Kersten told the crowd at the industry party Wednesday night that he’s taking the regional show to other markets soon.

“We’re happy to announce that the rest of the country will be hearing from us very soon,” Kersten said. “The folks in Texas are going to hear from us, the folks from South Florida are going to hear from us, the folks from Southern California are going to hear from us, and the folks on the Eastern seaboard are going to hear from us.”

These are the four regions Kersten is looking to take the CABDA show, a decision he said was prompted by interest from brands who have asked him to take the successful regional show model to other parts of the country. No cities or dates have been announced yet.

But Kersten told BRAIN he’s putting out RFPs in various cities in those states to figure out cost and logistics, and he hopes to launch a second show next year in addition to the Chicago-area show. 

The goal, he said, is to keep it regional, small and inexpensive for exhibitors, which means he won’t be looking at big cities since that typically involves costly convention centers and hotels. He said most retailers are willing to drive up to 500 miles to attend a regional show. He hopes to keep booth costs and drayage low. CABDA booths, for example, range from $850 for a 10x10 to $3,200 for a 20x20 island. Most exhibitors hand carry their booths and products, Kersten said.

“Last year I started hearing it a lot from brands: ‘Why don’t you have more of these shows in other regions?' ” Kersten said.

Even before Kersten made the announcement, a few exhibitors at the show were already talking about future shows and locations.

Kersten said this year’s show was the largest yet since he resurrected the CABDA show in 2015. CABDA drew 1,400 retailers on its first day, and Kersten expected that the remaining pre-registered attendees would show up on Thursday.

About 2,500 retailers pre-registered this year. More than 200 exhibitors set up booths at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center, which offered 100,000 square feet of space. Kersten said the show’s square footage grew 40 percent from last year with more exhibitors, and brands that booked space taking up larger booths this year. Schaumburg is a suburb of Chicago, about 30 miles northwest of the city. 

With wider aisles and a much larger expo, some exhibitors noted that traffic seemed a bit lighter than in previous years. But Kersten’s attendance figures didn’t suggest less foot traffic. The show offered many more seminars this year, which also potentially affected the traffic in the expo hall at various times of the day.

Still, CABDA has grown exponentially in four years, and exhibitors interviewed on Wednesday all commended the show for providing quality face time with store staff. Retailers are willing to take time and have meaningful conversations, and in some cases even write orders.

“We are writing orders,” said Rickey Strawn, director of sales for Haro, which had a large booth housing Masi, Del Sol and Haro. “We are sitting with dealers and talking business. It’s wonderful to see this network of dealers support the show. I already know I surpassed orders written last year just today.”

Strawn said he incentivized dealers to place orders and visit the Haro booth with a coupon offering a 5 to 10 percent discount on orders written at the show. He said dealers came from Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, Minnesota, Illinois and even a few from Virginia and Texas.

Regional distributor Olympic Supply Co. also wrote orders at the show.

New show exhibitors included Teravail, Genuine Innovations/Slime, Orbea, Schwinn E-Bikes, Rolf Prima, Elby, Roll:, and Pioneer.

Traffic seemed strong in light of competing events this year, including QBP’s Frostbike, which starts Friday, as well as the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS), which also begins Friday. Several brands expected to travel to one or both from Chicago after the show ends Thursday.

Some suppliers weren’t exhibiting but had executives walking the show to see whether they would want to come next year or to have meetings with dealers or other vendors.

In earlier years, booths were mostly manned by local/regional reps or sales agents. But now, CABDA is drawing vice presidents, national sales managers, directors and CEOs — higher-level management who have taken interest in seeing what the buzz is all about. Many gave CABDA a thumbs-up for the more modern convention center and hotel, a major upgrade from the Pheasant Run in St. Charles, which the show outgrew last year.

“We’re trying to acquire new customers and we’ve had quite a bit of success,” said Skip Swain, vice president of sales and marketing at Norco Bicycles. “It’s been a busy morning. It’s not about the whizbang here, and we like that. There are a lot more intimate conversations.”

“We went through a lot more beer at our happy hour this year — that’s a good indicator of traffic," said Kevin King, North American sales and marketing for Gore apparel. “This is a key market for us. It pulls people in from lots of states and is a good place to forge new relationships with dealers.”

“I love this show,” said Haibike’s Ken Miner, which had its own booth separate from sister brands Raleigh Electric and Izip. “It’s my favorite. It’s small and cozy and we get to see a lot of retailers we don’t normally see. It’s always busy and people are enthusiastic.”

Park Tool drove out its trailer and took up a large spot in the conventional hall, a departure from most of the pipe-and-drape booths lining the aisles. Company president Eric Hawkins flew in for one day of the show. He planned to head out to U.K.’s Icebike expo after the show, and some of his staff were headed to Frostbike.

“I think it’s a great regional show. It’s a great time of year for shops,” Hawkins said. “As long as it’s busy, we’ll come back. We always liked the Chicago show, even back in the day.”

Photos by Alex Carroll Photography.


Topics associated with this article: CABDA

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