March 14, 2013 (Quebec City, QC) – The cycling season kicked off with a bang in Québec City in March, with two back-to-back consumer bike shows being held one week apart. The well-established, 28-year-old Salon Info-Vélo, located alongside the St. Lawrence River in Old Québec, closed on Sunday, Mar. 10 with reported attendance of over 16,000 people – a 10% increase over last year.
The newcomer to town, the Salon du Vélo de Québec, held Mar. 1-3 at the mammoth shopping centre Galeries de la Capitale, also claims success. The organizer, Jan Dubé, who also runs the well-known Montreal Bicycle Show, held Feb. 15-17, said “…the show did very well, better than I expected.” Dubé reports that 12,532 visitors attended his new show over the 3-day period.
According to exhibitors interviewed by Pedal, the clientele attending the two shows was different. Because parking space is limited in the Old City where the Salon Info-Vélo is held, many attendees are cyclists who make the trip downtown. The general atmosphere is laid-back with no entry fee, no prices displayed, no sales allowed – just information is provided as the show’s name implies.
“We get lots of customers from this show, I’ve been coming back for 24 years,” commented Madam Boutin of the Auberge Harris a charming inn only 20 minutes from Montreal. Boutin also makes bike maps for the Richelieu River-Lake Champlain region that are very popular with touring cyclists.
After 28 years running, the Salon Info-Vélo is also a well-oiled show with great info sessions for show attendees while catering to exhibitors as well. “It’s relaxed and well-organized here,” says bicycle box manufacturer Sébastien Marcoux of Box International, “They do the little things right, like having our meals prepared ahead of time.” And the show floor design provides a one-way circuit which organizer Jean-Yves Labonté says “…means all of the booths get equal exposure.”
The rival Salon du vélo de Québec was more noisy said several exhibitors as retail sales were happening right on the show floor plus there’s an amusement park and children’s train nearby. Most exhibitors we spoke with including MEC and Louis Garneau were pleased with the experience and thought the shopping mall location was a plus commenting that parking was easy, the clientele was good, prices were displayed, and people were ready to buy.
Marie Dupuis of Vélo 2000, that specializes in Louis Garneau bikes and equipment, was “…very satisfied,” saying there was “…very heavy traffic at times. I sent employees back to the store several times to bring in more stock.” Robert Fournel of Fournel Bicycles also thought it was an excellent occasion to get people into his store, only taking down payments at the mall, thereby ensuring another visit to his shop.
Although the Salon du vélo de Québec had “zero effect” on the large and well-established Toronto Bicycle Show, held on the same March 1-3 weekend, organizer Brian Miles, felt a second show in Québec City was not good for business. “It splits an already small market. In my opinion Dubé should forget about Québec City and strengthen his show in Montreal. If he really wants a second show, he should do it in his own backyard as there’s a much bigger market there.”
As expected some of the retailers interviewed by Pedal are hesitant about the idea of two shows in the same location. Stephane Bégin of Performance Bégin would prefer just one show. “Shows are a big investment and a lot of work. Doing two shows one after the other is draining,” Bégin told Pedal.
Still both Bégin and Fournel found benefits at both venues. “It’s true they’re not the same clientele,” notes Bégin. “At the Salon Info-Vélo, people were more interested in high-end bikes, whereas at the Salon du Vélo de Québec, we were selling more hybrid and electric bikes.” Fournel added, “I’m happy with two shows. The Salon du Vélo de Québec gives you a chance to sell to your average Joe. It worked well for me.”
Whatever the opinions, it doesn’t look like Quebec City’s bike show battle is about to end soon. Dubé told us, “I already have people who are ready to sign for next year for the Salon du Vélo.” While Labonté of the Salon Info-Vélo says his show is solid and he’s seriously considering running a show in Montreal next year. “If Jan Dubé wants to come and play in my backyard, maybe we’ll do the same in his. I have people who’d like to work with me in Montréal.”
To be continued….