It’s Wednesday, January 11, and I am walking down an aisle of the CABDA West Expo with my long-time friend, and editor of this newsletter, Fred Clements. It’s the second day of the West Expo, and attendance is actually good for the second day. I ask Fred, “…what do you think of this first trade show of 2023?”

Fred’s response, “It is a sign of life!” I ask what he means. He responds, “It is a sign of life for bike shops after the pandemic.”

As I am getting ready to travel to CABDA East at the Meadowlands, just outside of New York City, I thought about this, and reflected on what I considered to be a well-attended CABDA Midwest Expo in February. I found myself agreeing that the CABDA trade shows, held during the first quarter of this year, are a strong sign of life for the bike shop channel of trade in the U.S.

They are a clear statement that independent bike shops are open for business, and whatever 2023 has in store, bike shops will be there to sell the latest in bicycles, e-bikes, parts, accessories, kit, and to provide professional service.

I believe the big bike brands and major industry trade association are short-sighted in not exhibiting or otherwise supporting the CABDA Expos.

The Bike Shop Count chart shows that approximately 27 percent of the estimated total number of American bike shops are totally independent, or “pure” independent, and that approximately 67 percent are “authorized” dealers of one or more of the big bike brands. Many make the decision to attend a CABDA Expo in their region of the country, as they feel it is in the best interests of their business to do so.

You might well ask if I am going out of my way to promote the CABDA Expos? The answer is a whole-hearted yes. We as an industry need to socialize and share ideas, and more importantly interact as a community of common interest.

I know one of the primary purposes of a trade show is for retailers to buy from suppliers, but in these times of uncertainty and turmoil, there is also the need to seek knowledge and ideas to survive and grow.

The National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA) is collaborating with the CABDA Expos in providing educational content, and will continue to produce and present webinars and educational programs through the rest of the year for bike shops.

Joe Marcoux, in my opinion one of the best sales trainers and educators specializing in the bike shop channel of trade, does multiple presentations at the CABDA Expos. I encourage bike shops to each out to Joe as a resource for their employee training needs.

Joe often refers to Peter Drucker, who warned that the greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence. It is to act with yesterday’s logic.

This is another sign of life from the CABDA Expos, providing the information attendees are sharing about what’s new in consumer wants and needs, and how to provide the products and services to satisfy them.

Contact Jay Townley,