In endurance sports, there’s a hidden season that isn’t well publicized to the general public. It’s the trade show season. While the trade show season isn’t a formalized process overseen by a governing body, it has over the years, developed a fairly defined circuit.
A primary purpose of a Trade Show is to provide retailers an efficient means by which to identify new products and to place orders for the next season. In the U.S. endurance sports world there are four or five (depending on how you look at it) key events. They include:
- Interbike: Bicycling show in September
- The Running Event: A December show that targets the overall running market
- Winter Outdoor Retailer: A Winter sports gear show held in January
- The Women’s Running & Fitness Event: A new event this June that focuses on the female consumer
- Summer Outdoor Retailer: A Summer sports gear show held in August
There are other events here and there in the U.S. (and several even bigger ones overseas) but from our perspective, these are the domestic “biggies”. Coeur tries to attend as many of these as possible because we think they are incredibly important. Not only do they allow manufacturers like Coeur to display and sell product they also help grow the industry. They do this by offering seminars and talks to Retailers that range from “How to find and keep great employees” to “How to enhance the shopping experience for your customers.”
Over the past several years, we’ve seen some tension as manufacturers evaluate the different sales channels. Online sales have grown steadily over the years to the point where it is projected that the U.S. will do $291 Billion online in 2014. According to Forrester Research, that number is expected to hit $317 Billion by 2017. It’s easy to see why online commerce is attractive to the customer and the manufacturers. Consumers can quickly compare prices, distribution costs are generally lower and delivery times in some markets are measured in hours not days. These facts have not gone unnoticed in the endurance sports industry as evidenced by the pull back in “Brick and Mortar” sales by some endurance apparel companies.
Now clearly, it is important for manufacturers to sell online. Their Brick and Mortar partners may not carry the full line or there may not be a shop at all in certain areas. But, in our humble opinion, we think it is a mistake to retreat from this channel. The best way (again, humbly submitted) to get more people into endurance sports is to make sure that the customer (1) is very well educated about their options and (2) has the ability to buy when, where and how they want. Having cycling, running and triathlon shops with great employees and a wide mix of products helps ensure both of these blocks are checked.
We’ve said it before but the more times that a new entrant into endurance sports has a positive experience, the more likely it is that she will stick around and become an advocate for health and fitness (and probably get her friends and family into the sport too).
That’s why in a recent “post work day, wine cooler strategy session”, we reaffirmed our commitment to our Brick and Mortar customers. Now, we know we’re small and our voice doesn’t carry very far but we’re compelled to sing the praises of our (and all) brick and mortar retail locations. We think these shops are the lifeblood of the sport and the more we can do to support them, the better.
By and large, the owners are also participants (in the small bit of time they have to get out of their shops) and they are driven by an absolute love of their sport as much as a desire to make a ton of money. In addition, they seem to also have a special role as historians. For example, if you ever go to Nytro in San Diego, ask if you can take a peek at Skip’s (the owner) office. The walls are full of historical photos, magazine covers and memorabilia. Honestly, it’s like going to a museum!
When run properly, brick and mortar shops provide an environment where newbies and veterans alike can immerse themselves into the sport and to ask questions that run the gamut from what to wear (Coeur is a good answer by the way) to what to eat and where to ride in the local area.
In addition, they also provide jobs (sometimes temporary and sometimes permanent) for endurance sports lovers.
So, with that as context, we’re thrilled to be heading to the Women’s Running and Fitness event at the end of the month to hopefully pick up some more brick and mortar retail customers and we enthusiastically ask you to “Support your Local Shop”.
Your friends at Coeur