SPEEDWAY, IN (BRAIN)—Despite a down economy, the 5th annual North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) is holding its own, with 115 exhibitors as of yesterday.
While this is not the record 150 set in Portland in 2008, it is up from to the 2007 figure of 105 in San Jose—in a good economy.
“It could be that the Portland number was a spike,” said industry expert Elliot Gluskin, of Gluskin Townley Associates. If so, exhibitor growth at NAHBS in 2009 would be considered healthy.
Given the concentration of builders in California (in 2008, 42 exhibitors came from California), show exhibitor attendance is very strong in light of the fact that a significant number of California builders have decided to skip the Indianapolis show, and many of the Portland builders are too small to travel this far.
“Some of the builders couldn’t see a market in the Midwest, others said they are ready to skip a year. I respect everybody’s reasons, but I still say all those that aren’t at the Indy show will miss out. I think a lot of people at the coastal fringes underestimate the economic power of the Midwest,” said show founder and director Don Walker.
With the assistance of Indianapolis retailer Bicycle Garage Indy, news of the show has spread far and wide in the Midwest. Word on the street is that some small towns will not have any bike shops open on at least one of the show days, because all staff will be at the NAHBS.
“That’s what I’ve been told,” said Tim O’Donnell of Shamrock Cycles, who has been helping distribute NAHBS postcards. “Folks from all of the neighboring cities will be there."
Industry rep. Pat Mahoney, who works in the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana markets, has also been distributing NAHBS postcards to bike shops around his region and said, “I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback. Everybody I’ve dropped off cards with says they’ll be at the show. I could see that some of the smaller shops would have to close if they’re all going to the show.”
The NAHBS takes place February 27 - March 1, 2009 at the Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis.