“We’re talking about insulation,” he said. “This doesn’t totally protect you; it depends on the diligence of the people you partner with.”
Partnerships offer a ready pool of volunteers, increased event promotion and a springboard that can boost attendance through combined advertising. Shelby counts on his local Harley Owners Group, but you’ll also find people who work for tips or a local radio station anxious for promotional exposure.
“When you show people you care, it raises spirits as much as it raises a couple of bucks,” Shelby said.
Partnering organizations expand the scope by bringing in people who attend for the charity and then may be enticed by the idea of motorcycling. It adds variety, too, especially if you have plenty of events at your location.
Lee and Brenda Clemens, longtime owners of Departure Bike Works in Richmond, Va., take a different approach. Departure, which sells high-performance V-twins, configures its three yearly events as customer appreciation days. These legacy gatherings have become so ingrained in the local biking community that customers plan their calendars around them.
Doug Kamerer, marketing manager at A.D. Farrow Co. Harley-Davidson in central Ohio, calls these long-lived gatherings evergreen events.
“Our Endurance Ride the week before Thanksgiving marks its 90th year this year,” he said. “We take a four- or five-hour ride, then we have Thanksgiving dinner with our biker family. It’s a great tradition.”
Another tradition is A.D. Farrow’s Thunder Tunnel during the Susan G. Komen run in Columbus, Ohio.
“We line both sides of High Street downtown with bikes, and as the runners come through we rev the engines,” Kamerer explained. What started as a group of six bikers seven or eight years ago has grown to nearly 500 riders -- proving that new traditions are waiting to be started.
At Departure, Lee Clemens gained his event savvy by experience. There was that time he forgot to order the port-a-johns, and the anniversary party when a man brought his entire extended family over so Grandma wouldn’t have to cook. Now the store plans well in advance, makes lists, and issues tickets for the chow line.