By: Andrew Magill, C4C Open Shop Minneapolis Coordinator
Frostbike is Quality Bicycle Products’ (QBP) annual wintertime educational gathering and bike industry trade show. QBP is a major bicycle parts distributor located in Bloomington, MN, that also owns several popular bicycle brands including Surly, Civia, All City and Salsa. QBP plays an important role in advocacy to further the development of bicycling in Minnesota and elsewhere, whether it be related to trail development, dealer and mechanic education, or community bike programs. QBP has been a C4C supporter for many years, and this year they funded scholarships for a group of female bicycle mechanics (including a C4C employee) to attend a two-week mechanic training program in Ashland, OR.
Six C4C employees had the opportunity to attend Frostbike this year. C4C’s retail manager Jeff Lathrop worked to make it possible for all of us to be at the event, seeing it as a chance to connect outside of the shop environment, and an opportunity to learn about new bike products and designs. The first day of the two-day event was focused on educational seminars related to bike sales and repair service, trends in the bicycle industry, and effective communication. I was very fascinated by an interactive seminar I attended that covered various preferred communication styles based on a theory of personality types.
Another highlight for me was talking with other folks I know from local bicycle shops including the Hub and Venture North. I met and talked with folks from a small shop in New Mexico, as well as a community program and retail shop located in Burlington, VT, called Old Spokes Home. The folks from Vermont contacted C4C ahead of time as they wanted to learn about our programs and mission. I arranged for them to visit our Minneapolis location during Open Shop and to lend them two bikes to visit a few other nearby bike shops.
Another takeaway from the two-day gathering that many of my colleagues noticed was that the sales, service, and manufacturer side of the bike industry was heavily represented at this event (but certainly not exclusively) by white and male individuals. There was little organized discussion of this fact, but those I talked with agreed that this needs to change right away to better reflect everyone who is riding, repairing, and buying bikes.
Finally, I do feel QBP was a great host; in other words, they know how to “put on a party.” We were welcomed to the various events, very well fed, entertained, and had easy access to the necessary details ahead of time. I really enjoyed meeting and learning from several of their employees. I was even escorted through the preferred bicycle short cut over the last mile of a bike route to QBP headquarters, by a Q employee who was riding to work Saturday morning and came upon me as I confusedly looked at Google maps on my phone.