So, I made a last minute decision to go to Austin Texas for the North American Handmade Bicycle Show. I wanted to see my friends in the business and make some new connections. It was a good decision. I had awesome time hanging with the Chris King family, the Rapha team, The Vanilla Workshop boys, Ira, Tony and Ben. I also met super cool and talented people in the industry. The host city of Austin and folks at Mellow Johnny’s were very arm and welcoming.
The show brings together exhibitors and fans, often they are one in the same so, there was a lot of love going around the show. There is competion to make it interesting with judges, winners and I guess, losers.
The community at the show is so supportive of one another. The suport comes in sharing of info, vendors and evan physical labor. Most of the attendees come to the show to see their friends, showing their wares is “almost” secondary. Many exhibitors I spoke with, are torn about the time energy and expense it takes to attend NAHBS but really enjoy attending. They hope to get some return on the investment in the weeks after the show in the form of orders and deposits.
The craftsmanship is amazing! The hall was full of talented people who love what they do. The exhibitors bring their finest bikes or bike related goods. Some exhibitors bring their customers’ bikes. the new owners have to wait till the show is over to receive their bikes. The builder has timed the creation of their latest cycle to satisfy their customer and be a “show bike”. These bikes are handled with great care and are exquisite. It is very cool when the bike can be handed off at shows end, like I witnessed when Ira Ryan passed his awesome road bike over to Matt, the new owner. A beautiful thing… The prizes for craftsmanship are given out at the end of day Sunday and everyone is physiqued for the winners.
The show is a heck of a lot of work. The exhibitors set up a meaningful booth in a few hours. Grab some food and head to the events of the evening/night. Get up early and chat with anyone and everyone all day. Eat. Attend the events that evenings events. Repeat two more times. Then, it’s break down time. These people work hard. Since they are mostly sole-proprietors, they want to do the packing-out work themselves and this gets very interesting. The hall has a crew that are hired to do move crates, but the show folks just want to take care of it themselves and also, want avoid any added fees. The hall does what it can to help and the exhibitors appreciate it, but there is a fine line they walk where the rules of needs and wants, free and fee. All in all, they seam to get the work done without too much animosity, from what I observed.
I really enjoyed the show and plan to attend next years rendition in Sacramento. Please check out the NAHBS website for more info on the 2011 and 2012 shows. http://www.2011.handmadebicycleshow.com/
See you soon.