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Handmade Wants Partner in Small Shows

Published May 18, 2008

SPEEDWAY, IN (BRAIN)─The North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS), the world’s largest handmade bicycle show, is moving to form alliances with regional handmade bicycle shows that have appeared in the wake of NAHBS, which began creating consumer/industry shows in the handmade sector back in 2005.

“For me it’s about promoting the category,” said Don Walker (pictured), founder and director of the NAHBS. “The reflex action might be to see these shows as competition, and oppose them, but I don’t see it that way. I am secure about the position of NAHBS as the leader. This is a close-knit part of the cycling industry and I see all of these shows working together to gain maximum promotion for the handmade brand as a whole.”

As an initial gesture, Walker has contacted organizers of regional shows in San Diego, California; Portland, Oregon; and Denver, Colorado, to discuss positions on the calendar
as well as the offer of reciprocal Web links.

The ideal scenario, Walker said, is to have several static regional shows that work in harmony with a higher-level national show that tours the country. In the years that the national show is elsewhere, the regional show maintains local interest and awareness, and every few years, when the NAHBS visits a region, it is seen as a special event.

Walker believes this will work for two reasons. First, entry into the NAHBS is by invitation only, restricting places to the more experienced builders and those that have already exhibited. Thus the NAHBS will continue to present the cream of the crop in frame building. Entry to the regional shows is more open, which gives newer builders an opportunity to gain public exposure. Second, many of the smaller builders cannot afford to travel across the continent to exhibit at NAHBS, so a regional show better suits their budgets.

“I learned something from watching the mountain biking scene in the U.S., which developed a top-heavy approach very early, but ultimately that may not have been optimum for the long-term development of that industry. I think this plan is a step forward from that, because it includes more locally-connected, grassroots, kind of shows, and then the high-flying superstar show which people in each region only get to see every five or six years,” Walker said.

Thus far only the San Diego show has expressed support for Walker’s national vision. “I had a good conversation with Brian Baylis (marketing director of the San Diego show), and
we are working together. I want his show to be successful, and he wants NAHBS to continue to grow, because he can see that while there is some overlap, our shows serve different needs as well, and if we all work together the whole handmade category wins,” Walker said.

The North American Handmade Bicycle Show moves from city to city each year. It is scheduled for February 27 – March 1, 2009, at the Indianapolis Convention Center. NAHBS has grown from a show with 23 exhibitors and 700 attendees in 2005, to 150+ exhibitors and more than 7,000 attendees in 2008.

Topics associated with this article: Tradeshows and conferences

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