Road Trippin – The IMS
December 1, 2014
There is a series of traveling retail motorcycle shows — called the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows (IMS) — that goes around the country in the winter. The biggest show is in Long Beach, California, followed immediately by a second show in Seattle. Andrew and I found out about these a just a few weeks before they started. At first we were ambivalent, because it meant going on the road for 2+ weeks and 2,400+ miles, and we have a lot going on at home right now. Plus the IMS caters to all different types of bikes – cruisers, sport bikes, vintage, motocross, dualsport, etc. Dualsport is only 7-8% of the total market, and an even smaller sub-segment does the kind of offroad riding/camping that our bags are designed for. On the other hand, the IMS is a great way to connect with riders in the winter, when there aren’t nearly as many rallies to attend, and a lot of people are focused on winter sports.
In the end, despite some initial misgivings, we decided to go for it anyway. I hit the road with a couple bikes and a bunch of inventory in the trailer, headed for California. I knew I was getting close to LA when the traffic started looking like this.
When I arrived at the Long Beach Arena, I realized this was going to be a very different kind of event than the rallies we normally attend. After getting bounced from three different entrance gates, I finally found the loading dock, which was packed with other trucks and trailers unloading their booths and merchandise.
I found a nice spot at the back of the lot and setup camp for the weekend, using my honda 175 to get around town.
We used the same basic indoor booth layout from the BMWMOA event, with a few minor improvements, like a real “trade show” sign.
My first impression of the IMS was “wow, shiny.” My second thought was that this is our first exposure to the broader “motorcycle business” with all its different segments, from Harleys to scooters to Gold Wings to CanAms to insurance and accessories. I could tell the big manufacturers are investing a lot of money in these shows. Honda, Harley, BMW, etc all had huge custom semi-trailers loaded with bikes and large booths with lots of staff. I figured if the big guys were spending that kind of money, that had to be a good sign for the rest of us.
Here’s the view from our booth before the gates opened in Long Beach.
We had a really great show. Our best yet. No pics because I was working. Our neighbor was nice enough to snap the pic below one day and text it to me later. We got lots of great feedback, and even better we sold a lot of bags.
Taking inventory to sell on the spot makes a big difference, as opposed to writing orders and shipping the product later. On the way to California, when I stopped to pickup inventory at the warehouse in Portland, I remember thinking “man, I’ll be really embarrassed if I come back in two weeks and haven’t sold this stuff!” After the first day at Long Beach I stopped worrying about that, and started worrying more about running out.
After three incredibly busy days, it was over, and time to pack up and load-out. Check out the big manufacturers’ two-level semi trucks stacked with bikes.
The Mosko Moto trailer is a little more basic.
Back in LA traffic, this time heading north toward Seattle.
Got out of LA and stopped for the night at a Flying J for a last taste of warm weather, a drink on top of the camper, and a good night’s sleep surrounded by the white noise of idling truck engines.
I stopped for a night in Portland and my girlfriend Amarett decided to join for the Seattle portion of the trip. We discovered that unlike Portland, in Seattle it’s a real hassle to camp on the street. Every block has a parking regulation of some kind, even in the industrial parts of town. We ended up backtracking 30 minutes down the highway, dropping the camper/trailer in South Center, and shuttling back and forth to Seattle in the truck.
Our booth in Seattle.
We had an awesome location at this show. Here’s the view from our booth: BMW on the right side and KTM on the left.
One of our first customers, Greg Hilchey, an off-road riding instructor with Puget Sound Safety, stopped by to say hi, and he ended up getting sucked into the booth for hours answering questions. He even came back on Sunday and helped out again during the peak hours. Greg, we owe you one man! Big thanks for the help.
Robert Edward’s DR650 was on display with Mosko bags. Thanks for that Rob!
In the BMW booth there was a well-ridden R1200GS with hard cases on a rotating pedestal display. I noticed the left side pannier was broken off, and was connected to the bike by straps and zip ties. This is a good illustration of what can happen to hard cases when the bike goes down. I used to come back from every trip with one or both panniers connected exactly like this.
Seattle was another great show for Mosko. We sold out of several items. I came home with only a few partial boxes to take back to the warehouse. Very stoked about that.
The next IMS is at Javits Center in New York two weeks from now. Based on the results at Long Beach and Seattle, we’d love to attend NYC but it’s probably not in the cards for us this year. We have a bunch of things to work on here at home in terms of new product for 2015, website upgrades, the new shop space, etc. I’m headed back to SE Asia in January, and after that we’ll be focused on the 2015 riding season, so now’s our chance to buckle down and get these projects done.
Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!