Is something still a blur if it happened in the past but you are still in the blur? Would you say, “MADE 2023 was a blur…” or would you say “MADE 2023 is still blurry because of….”? Either way, the MADE 2023 show was amazing and easily the best show of the year to attend. The fact that it is 48 hours since the show ended, and everything is still a blur tells you all need to know.
The MADE show is the newest show on the bike show calendar and it would be fair to say for those people who exhibited that it was one of the best shows of the year, if not the best show of the year. The MADE show is specifically geared for handmade bikes produced by small and medium sized builders. Yes, there were component manufacturers there as well, but the stars of the show were the builders who brought the most amazing assortment of bikes you will ever get to see. Builders and attendees traveled from different states (East Coast was well represented) and different countries (UK, France, Canada, and Columbia just to name a few) with everyone bringing their “A” game when it came to bikes on display or questions to ask. It was a sophisticated crowd without being pretentious. Everyone was very enthusiastic to say the least.
For those of us at Sage, this is a local show which means we get to sleep in our own beds, see our spouses and dogs/ cats/ animals, and have a minor commute to and from the show each day. We know the roads and we don’t have to go searching for restaurants. It also means that we get to see all our local friends at the show as they come in to check out the scene, and we get to show off Portland to those visiting from out of state. It’s a nice feeling to play tour guide and show off why we live here and choose to be here. We have done plenty of shows over the years where driving or flying was a necessity, so having a “backyard show” so to speak is a nice feeling.
Setup for the show was on Wednesday with the show closing on Sunday. Five days of hard work and “Pedal to the Metal” mindset needed so that you brought your best for everyone to see. We could rest after the show was done. The show is held at the Zidell Ship Yards which is an older building used for shows and other events these days. I don’t think it is used for ship building or storage any longer, but it might still be functioning in that capacity at some time or another. The building has a raw industrial look and feel to it with massive openings at both ends of the building. HUGE ceilings that are tall enough to load containers on trucks and move cranes around complete the structure. Architecturally speaking it is a beautiful space.
Setup on Wednesday went smoothly enough and took most of the day while moving at a leisurely pace. It was nice to see and catch up with so many familiar faces that the pace slowed things down quite a bit, but it was a welcome distraction. Once the booth was dialed in and the bikes were locked up, it was time to head home and get ready for the upcoming media days
The media days were a nice way to soft open the show. It was easy to get into the show mindset and make sure everything you needed was in place and your message was consistent to share with others. The number of media that was at the show was impressive with almost 50 editors/ media personalities at the show. There was something for everyone, so coverage was really good. In addition to the media walking around, there were industry folks from other brands (usually components, suppliers, etc.) walking around and chatting with the brands that were there. Of course, there were bike shop employees, buyers, and owners walking around as well as they could get good face to face time with the brands without the crush of people that was sure to come once the show opened to the public.
On Thursday afternoon at 3pm, there was a “Builders Bike Ride” that left from the venue and travelled up into Forest Park for some fun gravel riding on our local trails. Forest Park is an amazing park with some fantastic gravel riding in it. Considering how close it is to the city and how fast you can get out of downtown with the park, it is impressive. The ride went for about 2 hours and then ended at the Chris King headquarters where Chris was serving soft tacos (absolutely amazing) and beer from New Belgium Brewing. A DJ was on hand to keep the party moving and people were laughing and having a great time overall. There was a tour that was being led by Chris himself so for anyone on that tour, they got their proverbial money’s worth. The party was only expecting about 200 people, but instead 400 people showed up, so the beer ran out quicker than expected. That was fine as the serious business of the show was starting the next day and people still needed to ride back to their hotels in the dark.
Friday morning was relatively quiet as most of the media stuff happened on Thursday. Builders were able to walk around and check out other booths and if any media were still there then that was a good thing too. Then the doors opened… and the tsunami of people rolled in!
From noon on Friday through Sunday at 4pm when the show officially closed, everything is a blur. Sure, there was a Happy Hour at Breadwinner Cycles with free beer and food sponsored by Enve Composites as well as a MADE show Happy Hour Saturday evening after the show closed in the beer garden, but oddly enough those are the moments that have the most clarity. It’s the hours during the show that are one giant blob of time. Over 5000 people attended the show over the course of 3 days, and it felt like nearly everyone of them came through our booth. The way we had the booth laid out was to encourage people to walk through the booth and check out the bikes from multiple angles. There were no couches or chairs in the booth to sit down, it was standing room only just about all the time and that was perfect. The flow of traffic really felt like people were coming in to ask great questions and really look at the bikes as opposed to just passing by and not really paying attention.
While Friday felt like a tidal wave of people as they streamed into the building, Saturday felt like the craziest/ most packed Saturday market you have ever been to. Wall to wall people all looking for the freshest products they could find. The flood gates had opened and the place was packed from start to finish. The volume in the building was so loud that more than a few exhibitors (the Sage crew included) lost their voices. It was just that loud for each day. Sunday was a bit calmer with the prevailing theory that most people from out of town were flying home that day so the show was a bit more “local-centric”. It was still super busy; it was just a bit more manageable than the day before.
When 4pm rolled around and the announcement was made that the show was officially closed, there was a big round of applause and a collective sigh of relief from everyone still in the building. While we could all now relax, we still had to pack up and get out. For the next hour or two, booths were torn down, and people made multiple trips out to their vehicles to load everything up. Goodbye hugs were given as fist bumps and head nods went all around. The general feeling was that the show was a success and that we can’t wait to do it again next year as long as we get a few days of recovery post week of the show.
We will be back for 2024 for sure and we would love to see you there. It will be a spectacular show for sure!
- All Photography provided by: