Chicagoland refers to the greater Chicago area and since before the Schwinn empire it was the heartland of America’s bike industry. The biggest factories, the fanciest shops, the most racing champions, the most overseas bike company offices, and so forth. No surprise how speed skating (as quad centric as any sport) sent athletes back and forth between cycling and ice, a productive dynamic.
The Chicagoland Bicycle Dealers Association (CABDA) hosted years of dealer shows, many I was fortunate to attend. They were big, seminar intensive, and everyone seemed more engaged than at Interbike or the few consumer shows that come and go. They stopped in the early 2000’s, possibly a collateral victim of the collapse of US bike making and Midwest manufacturing in general.
Hard to imagine but, in the late 1980’s Schwinn made nearly one million bikes a year in the US. By the early 1990’s, that number was zero. Nothing short of stunning.
The Show is back!
Last week (Feb 11-12, 2015) we exhibited there and it was great to meet the sturdy owners and staff who braved 19” of snow that fell the day before opening. The dump was worse as you move north (Wisconsin, MN). These brave souls listened carefully and had lots of suggestions. Exhibitors and attendees were happy.
What fun to show P&K truing stands to appreciative and well informed mechanics and shop owners.
Morizumi Spoke Machines attract curiosity.
I also gave two seminars on topics I’ll cover in upcoming posts. One, how to succeed with upscale wheels and, two, winning service department strategies. You don’t need to own or work at a shop to benefit from this information. Solutions to these topics remain elusive for cycling, issues shared by other sports and business.
What is a Midwest bike event without Richard Schwinn (of Waterford Precision Cycles)?
Lastly, an extra shout out to Jim Kersten (plus family) and Greg Miller, the show organizers, and other volunteers. One evening it was -6F, so more than a bit of teamwork was needed.
Good luck to CABDA sustaining and expanding this much needed event.