Spitballing and Speculating

I still owe all you readers a quick 2×2 analytical table using the different dimensions of capitalism and markets (and thinking about the scale of the business enterprise) to categorize different kinds of builders and brands. My spring break is drawing to a close tonight and, fortunately, I made good progress on my commercialization of football and North-South divide paper. Hoping to get that out for review this next week, so I can dive back into the framebuilder stuff again and maybe get a few more things up here on the blog!

With the NAHBS happening this weekend, I’ve been checking Instagram and Facebook all weekend. Wish I had the money and time to just go every year, but Salt Lake is pretty far and costly…and the kinds of interviews you get at a show are not the best for detailed data collection, even if they are good for showing your face and checking out the scene.

Two things have been on my mind when thinking about the show as a “success” for its intended purpose.

Certainly the exhibitor numbers were up again this year, but I need to download the final list and see what proportion of these were builders. A larger trend in the show has been for more exhibitors….but the proportion of builders has remained comparatively small. The show certainly reflects a certain kind of dynamism in the field (as noted by the Handbuilt Bicycle News’ first “take” on this year’s show), but many of the builder exhibitors were from outside of North America. The trend toward more international builders – which is really cool and productive in many respects – nonetheless might be taken as an indicator for a certain kind of “decline” of the NAHBS, given its original focus on the North American scene alone.

Secondly: the show just finished tonight, so not much in the way of summaries yet, but I’m very curious to hear about public attendance. Maybe most of the videos and Instagram posts were taken before and/or after the show each day…but the crowds sure looked thin on the ground in what I’ve seen thus far. However, this brings up a question I’ve pondered quite a bit and that, in fact, was central to my first paper on the NAHBS. Is NAHBS really there for a buying public that might attend the show? Or, is the NAHBS a vehicle for publicity…in which case, it is a success so long as the right people attend, even if that isn’t a lot of people? Certainly the tastemakers were there, and maybe the “market” of potential buyers is mainly online anyway. In that case, the “field configuring” (and market configuring) nature of the tradeshow doesn’t even require that much of the buying public be there in person. In any event, will be curious to see the show wrap-ups that appear this week….

2 thoughts on “Spitballing and Speculating

  1. Just want to say thanks for having this blog. As a beginning framebuilder, but long time industry member, it’s very interesting to read your insight – hoping to use it to start a viable business!

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  2. Hi Alex — Thanks for dropping by – and glad you found the blog as I haven’t really advertised this much! I certainly do hope my analysis and thoughts might be useful for those "in the biz" in the longer run, especially whenever I (finally) get around to doing an anonymous builder survey and publishing a freely available summary of those data. In the mean time, glad to have you along!

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