InterbikSept. 27, 2010. First report on Interbike
"I will not come," said one retailer based in Canada, who preferred to remain off the record. She already had plans for the week of August 8 through 12, 2010, and neither she nor her partner will be able to get away. "It would kill our busiiness," she said.
Pic: Contador's Specialized Tarmac Bike (Benepe (c))
Another retailer from the northeast U.S. said they won't be able to make it either. "It's crazy, right in the middle of our biggest season," he noted.
"You know what? It's going to be a west coast show only," said another. These were the words of every single retailer I spoke to. Not one said they planned to make it, and none could arrange to get away from their businesses--at least for now.
One vendor support specialist who works the Outdoor Demo and the Cross Vegas race predicted the show won't even make it to Anaheim before the organizers change their minds and bring it back. He noted that the lack of adequate entertainment and infrastructure in Anaheim would make it a very dull locale.
"Traffic will be a killer--can you imagine competing with Disneyland in the middle of August?" said another retailer. He is not planning on attending either because August is his biggest month of the year.
Photo: Mavic shoe: "The lightest shoe in the market." (Benepe, (c))
Show management said that Interbike attendance by both vendors and retailers was about level with last year. But they offered no details as to how that information was collected.
For one, some companies took double booths this year, like Champion Systems, who had a long rack of custom clothing--all of it the same but done in 4 color ways, stationed themselves directly across from Castelli; and Sheila Moon took a bigger booth with a marketing story that was a mix between a Target-driven California Hillbilly and Free People, (the iconoclastic brand that reaps millions from its imagery of statuesque blonde fraulein imports in tabacco road type settings). Nutcase, that zany helmet designer had also doubled its booth size.
However, anecdotally, BBB spoke to a number of vendors who elected not to have booths this year. Descente, Panache, and Vicious Cycles took the Trek route of not coming to the show with a booth, some for economical reasons, others because no business was being written so late in the season.
Which is why Interbike is moving to the second week in August. However, some lamented that even that earlier date is already too late.
Pic: A Pearizumi jersey that has iterations of a previous 2007 Hotvelociti design
"It's become a consumer show," said one vendor. "That's why we aren't really interested in coming anymore."
Some vendors also complained that the show had become more and more of an opportunity for their competition to come and scope out their product, then run back to HQ to duplicate it.
One apparel maker said they found two executives from a major competitor in their booth this year carefully examining the fabric and finishes on their bike shorts. "Last year they copied our product, so this year we aren't showing anything outside. Our legitimate customers can come to our suite and see it," he noted. All of their product was displayed behind glass encasements. He said it would have been different if they had come up and introduced themselves.
For those reasons, many suppliers had adopted private, walled-in compounds to ward off would be imitators, including Specialized, Terry Bikes, Luna, and Hincapie. Specialized took the unusual step of not allowing people in without a retailer pass. One apparel rep complained that he could not get into the booth to see the bikes because he was shopping for one himself.
It's not unusual for competitors to rip one another off: BBB saw an iteration of Hotvelociti's design from two years ago, prominently displayed in the Pearlizumi booth this year.
Some booths were wide open for all to enter either because they had a confident brand and marketing placement, or the opposite--followers with sad imitations and poor workmanship. Mavic, Chrome, Camelbak, and Nutcase were examples of leaders who did not close their doors to attendees. The logic was not consistent however--some followers had walled off compounds for product that clearly represented nothing new, interesting or even noteworthy. Maybe they just didn't want their competition to see how much their lines had deteriorated.