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Opinion: Retailer Brad Hill decries loss of Interbike

Published December 10, 2018

By Brad Hill

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Editor's note: Brad Hill owns three Goodale's Bike Shops in New Hampshire. Hill worked for the founder's son, Roscoe, and later bought the shop and expanded it. Founded in 1919, Goodale's sells Trek, Specialized, Cannondale and other brands.

Anyone can say what they want about Interbike. But I don't believe John Burke, Mike Sinyard and the others who sit at the top in this industry would be here if it weren't for Interbike.

I was at the first Interbike, and the last one as well, and the shows that came before them like those held in New York City's Coliseum.

At the time, I was a "little guy" with a 320 square-foot store. That was in the early 1970s. That was before Trek or Specialized even existed. Companies like Schwinn, Raleigh and others weren't talking to someone like me with gross sales of $65,000 a year.

I remember the first shows that Trek and Specialized chose to attend, and I have to ask whether they would be where they are today if they hadn't attended those shows?

And now with Interbike gone as its attendance fell, I have to ask whether Trek, Specialized and other key brands' absence could account for declining national sales through IBDs over the last few years? Do we just call it, "The Changing of the Guard?"

It's really nice to wear that yellow jersey; it's really difficult to wear it over time. General Motors couldn't do it. Ford Motor Company couldn't do it. Schwinn Bicycle Company and their elite group of 1,000 Club dealers couldn't do it.

So, let's see what the next generation of suppliers do. And I am interested in seeing what the future brings for all IBDs throughout the country.

I'm glad I was there in the early 1970s, but I wonder what will happen now — now that IBDs are unable to talk to manufacturers, distributors or product designers. How is that going to have an impact on some of these companies? On IBDs?

It seems suppliers like to say: "Well, we've talked to 20 dealers and they all think this or that." When I ask them would you please give me a contact or two so I can call and find out what their reasoning is for certain products, I don't get those names any more.

In fact, I wonder if such people even exist. Anyone thinking of becoming an IBD in the future, I guess, will have to go online to find out what's available or what they need and good luck finding someone to talk to. Or go to multiple dealer shows to learn about the brands they carry. Talk about cost.

I don't know, maybe IBDs could book multiple flights and make multiple appointments to meet suppliers before doing business with them. All of this is extremely sad.

Over the years, Interbike made a difference to IBDs and industry suppliers like Trek, Specialized and others by doing business face-to-face. Apparently, not anymore.

Topics associated with this article: Interbike

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