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Half party, half mini trade show attracts a crowd

Nadia Higgins, Contributing Writer
November 28, 2011
Filed under Features

Cascade Moto Classics finds inaugural event brings sales, goodwill

Cascade Moto Classics’ most recent store event started the way a lot of good ideas do — with another idea and some serendipity.

The Beaverton, Ore., dealership had long had its sights set on selling Vanson Leathers riding apparel, a popular product among its customers. But another dealership in the area had an exclusive arrangement with the apparel company, or so the owners thought.

So, when a Vanson rep recently walked into the shop, ready to strike a deal, Cascade Moto Classics owner Janice McCarthy jumped at the chance. To kick off the deal, the rep offered to host an event at the store, complete with product explanations and free fittings. Maybe racer Kenny Dreer could come and show off his Suzuki drag bike that night as well.

“Then we began thinking,” McCarthy said, “well, shoot, if we’re going to have those two people here, why don’t we invite more vendors to make it more interesting?”

The result was Cascade Moto’s first-ever After Hours Vendor Special. Half party, half mini trade show, the event took place earlier this month at the dealership from 6:30 – 8:30 on a Thursday night.

In addition to Vanson, nine vendors were booked to showcase and explain their products, including Firstgear’s heated gear, Scorpion helmets and Shorai lithium batteries. A local Triumph motorcycle rental business also had a table, as did a motorcycle track days instructional company. A local artist who specializes in photography-based portraits of riders with their bikes was also present to show his unique product.

McCarthy says the event was not a lot of work to organize. The staff relied on the contacts they had made over the years to develop the trade show portion of the event.

“We started thinking about all the people we had met who had interesting products that we thought our customers would like to know about,” McCarthy said.

Setup involved clearing the showroom and putting out tables and tablecloths for each vendor, which supplied their own brochures, samples, and in a few cases, raffle prizes.

McCarthy made sure to offer an impressive food spread.

“Our customers just generally appreciate whenever we do anything . . . and we have free food,” she said with a laugh.

Cascade Moto promoted the event via email and in a monthly newsletter as well as through fliers and on the dealership’s website. Special show deals included 20 percent off anything in stock and 10 percent off special orders.

As the day approached, McCarthy was feeling confident about a decent turnout. She wasn’t crazy about hosting the event on a Thursday night, but it was the only option available. Then, McCarthy got some bad news: At that very same time, a local competitor was hosting a free viewing of “Charge”, the acclaimed documentary about the MotoCzysz electric bike race on the Isle of Man.

“We were kind of sick when they brought over their fliers for us to give out,” McCarthy said.

Still, she estimates that about 50 people showed up for the After Hours Vendor Special, and most arrived right at 6:30 and stayed for the full two hours. Customers seemed to enjoy taking their time with each vendor.

“It gave customers an opportunity to ask questions because we’re not always the most knowledgeable on every single product,” McCarthy said. “The people who are the experts were there and could answer questions. And customers also got to see and touch things that maybe we don’t stock all the time.”

The staff also learned a lot, she added. And most vendors seemed busy the whole night. The Firstgear table was especially popular, which was no surprise given the time of year. In fact, McCarthy had made a point of inviting the heated-gear vendor to coincide with the beginning of Oregon’s chilly winter. Heated glove liners were the hottest item of the evening.

All in all, McCarthy says the event was worthwhile, and they will do it again next year.

“We sold a fair amount of product, and we got a lot of feedback from our customers telling us how much they appreciated it,” she said. “Everybody seemed to have a good time.”

Though McCarthy hopes for a better date and better turnout next year, she takes the long view.

“As a dealership, even though you might not see the profit immediately from doing something, the goodwill that it creates is worth every penny,” she said.

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