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Customer excitement grows for riding season at IMS

Liz Hochstedler, Associate Editor
March 12, 2012
Filed under Features

Dealers hope show presence leads to sales

As the doors opened in February at the Progressive International Motorcycle Show in Minneapolis, it didn’t take long until life was breathed into the convention center ballroom. Up until that point, the space had been filled only with booths and smatterings of exhibitors wandering the floor pre-show.

Those customers who clamored through the doors at 4 p.m. and the ones that followed later that day and throughout the weekend include some ideal prospects for dealers — those who willingly shell out $13-$30 to make sure they don’t miss the latest models, newest PG&A and the vendors that bring those products to them.

For that reason, a few area dealers spent some of their marketing budgets on booths, hoping to attract new blood into their stores, or draw in former customers who hadn’t visited in a while.

“We hope to show people the new bikes and hopefully get some interest in these bikes,” said Wayne Bedeaux, owner of Leo’s South in Lakeville, Minn.

Bedeaux had two booths at the show — one that focused mostly on PG&A and the other that showcased vehicles that weren’t shown elsewhere in the show.

The 2013 Victory Judge was displayed at the Progressive International Motorcycle Show in Minneapolis just two weeks after it was unveiled at the IMS in New York City. Polaris had large Victory and Indian displays at the Minneapolis show, since it was in Polaris’ home state.

“Probably what brought them to our booth was we had brands that weren’t represented [by manufacturers’ booths] — BMW, Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Vespa and Ural,” he said.

Matthew Palmersheim, store manager of Cities Edge Motorsports in Shakopee, Minn., didn’t have to bring new units because his booth was tucked into Suzuki’s OEM booth. His staff went to the show to talk with customers new and old and to get prepared for the riding season.

“We’re excited that it’s motorcycle season, for one thing,” he said. “This is the best part of what we do for a living.”

Simply Sport Bikes, a pre-owned dealership in Eden Prairie, Minn., bought a booth to gather more exposure for its store. In the past, the show has done its job for the dealership, as Simply Sport Bikes’ display of bikes and gear has attracted people to the store.

“It does pay dividends for us,” parts manager Erik Devan said.

The Marketplace showcased the latest gear and accessories and was staffed by PG&A experts at the Progressive International Motorcycle Show in Minneapolis.

That push for more traffic is exactly what brought Heinen’s Motorsports of Osseo, Minn., back to the show after a long absence from exhibiting. The dealership was hoping to gain exposure, especially for its newly acquired brand KYMCO, which was predominantly displayed in its booth.

“That’s what these shows are all about, getting people back in the store,” said Rich Heise, who works in sales at the dealership.
For Palmersheim, the show only translates somewhat into increased traffic, and usually the increase is only seen immediately post-show, long before the riding season begins in Minnesota. But he’s hoping that warmer winter weather this year and, hopefully, an earlier riding season, will add to the show’s success.

“There are a lot of people that you know from going over the years. Hopefully that translates into them coming back, but the fact that the weather was nice, we had good traffic in the store again,” he said.

Luckily for Bedeaux, follow-up has already led to a few sales, even as post-show work was continuing.

“The motorcycle traffic since the show has been way up, so I think it’s got people excited,” he said. “Overall, we were pleased with the show. It was a good show for us.”

Visitors check out Ducati’s 1199 Panigale Superbike at the Progressive International Motorcycle Show in Minneapolis.

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