New York IMS: One Dealer's Story

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For dealer principal Darrin Gitlitz, the New York International Motorcycle Show is a chance to get out and press the flesh with his existing customers and attract new ones.

The owner of New York Honda Yamaha was working the Honda display Saturday afternoon, talking with showgoers about Big Red's latest and greatest, while his wife and employees ran his dealership's busy P&A booth just across the floor of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

And it was busy — a group of customers were queued up at the display of Shoei RF1000 helmets, some lids by HJC and a large selection of riding jackets from different manufacturers.

This is the second year that the dealership has had a booth at the New York stop of the tour (bigger than last year given their success in 2009), however, he's been working and helping out at the OEM displays for years.

As the biggest dealer in Astoria, in the borough of Queens, Gitlitz says he pretty much owns his territory. Having a presence at the show allows him to reconnect with his regular customers in addition to helping him reach out to those outside his existing base.

"I get to reach those from the wider area," he said.

The other reason he attends — and a factor in increasing his booth space — is the financial benefit. Where else can you put yourself in front of 60,000 eager powersports enthusiasts, many of them ready to spend, he asked.

For these showgoers he stocks a heavy supply of products that are impulse buy items and for the New York show he worked out a deal with Helmet House on margins that allow him to offer show pricing.

To help track the return on customers that he gets from the show, Gitlitz hands out coupons for $200 worth of free accessories with a qualifying purchase. And, he doesn't just hand them out to anybody, only to people that he's had a chance to talk with and gauge their intentions.

Overall, it's a pretty heavy investment to appear at the show once he figures in the cost of booth space, employee pay, parking fees and other expenses. But, it's an expense, he said, that's worth it.

"If it pays for staff and the other expenses and the show ends up costing me nothing," he said, "to get exposure like this in invaluable."