This year, I have been fortunate enough to travel to Minneapolis, Utah and now Bellingham, WA as the guest of some of our great vendors. Bellingham, tucked way of in the top right corner of the US, is the home to
After a cross-country flight, it's a 2 hour bus ride north, just shy of the Canadian border. It was 65 degrees and beautiful for my stay.
Morning flight from Laguardia
Bus to Bellingham
The mornings are filled with new product presentation and rep meetings, and the afternoon is filled with riding some great new bikes in what I consider to be unbelievable natural settings
Interspersed are some great meals and a visit to the local warehouse. This formula is pretty standard...what made this trip so unique was actually getting a glimpse into what makes
so special and unique in the exceedingly corporate bike industry.
Right away, you get the sense that what you see is what you get. This isn't some faux-boutique company funded secretly by some large international holding company. It's
employees worldwide making this all happen.
Its hard to believe that such a small company can have so many models, and have such a world following in creating bikes that are used at the top reaches of our sport.
New Product Presentation
I met so many hardcore Canadian mountain biking dudes....people who know what the hell is going on, and who don't mince words. These guys swear by
. These are guys racing World Cup events around the world.
had just started carrying
a year ago, so our first order was a bit of a guess job. We sold through most everything we ordered, and really learned what sells of us. Coming to an event like this after a year of trial and error is incredibly useful. Talking to other dealers like us, and actually getting to ride the bikes makes such a huge difference when you are carrying a line of bikes.
As we get deeper and deeper into mountain bikes as a shop, a brand like
helps immensely as they have bikes at entry level price-points, as well as bikes at inspirational levels. As we move our
to Saturday this summer and fall,
will be a huge part of our demo fleet.
I got to sit with owner Jake Heilbron for breakfast, and was made to feel so at ease in a setting where I sometimes felt like a fish out of water. These guys have been hitting it hard in BC for decades, and the riding experience I have is dwarfed in comparison. I told him about our efforts at 718 to really push with mountain biking, and he was very encouraging.
My rep Cory just kills it. He's been there 12 years (which puts him in the middle of the average Kona rep[ tenure!). Heck, even the credit department was chill.
And now, to the fun stuff. I can't remember laughing my ass off on a business trip as I have done this week. From the drunken, blindfolded, bike pinata contest, to the Instagram contest (guys mooning a Giant Bicycle trailer/truck won). This is a brand that attracts a certain kind of dealer, and its a brand that certainly makes people smile. Check out the Instagram hashtage
to see what I mean (watch the videos!)
Drunk, blindfolded, on a bike, trying to hit a pinata (not me)
The food was amazing...highlighted by the outdoor piella-fest at the
warehouse AND a waterfront cookout.
The bikes were really fun to demo. Even though we've only had our eye on the line for 1 year, even I could see refinements that will allow us to sell more bikes this year. We werer able to take any bike out on a loop around
. In reading the descriptions of thet rails after the fact, I do now notice that they are rated as intermediate to advanced. This makes lots of sense now, as there were inclines and declines that I had to hike it on foot.
I rode a number of bikes, from the 27.5
and also including the
cyclocross bike. All were fun, and I am encouraged that I can pass this experience onto to our customers as we suggest the right mountain bike for them.
Again, many many thanks to
for inviting me, as an urban dealer, on such a great trip. I definitely drank the kool-aide, but I do think it was laced with something!