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Mall’s motorsports show features local dealers

By By Kate Swanson

Montana mall welcomes powersports dealers for a weekend event

A trip to the mall can mean a new wardrobe and money well spent, and for some Montana powersports enthusiasts, the option to take home a new bike was temptation enough. Southgate Mall of Missoula, Mont., hosted its first motorsports event in February to rave reviews by dealers who were exhibiting at the three-day event. 

The Motorsports Show was Southgate Mall’s first such event that included snowmobiles, side-by-sides, motorcycles, boats and ATVs. Kurt’s Polaris of Missoula, Mont., was one of the original six powersports dealers to exhibit.

The Motorsports Show was Southgate Mall’s first such event that included snowmobiles, side-by-sides, motorcycles, boats and ATVs. Kurt’s Polaris of Missoula, Mont., was one of the original six powersports dealers to exhibit.

Trisha Piedalue, Southgate Mall’s marketing director, said that for years the mall hosted a boat show, but she wanted to expand the show to accommodate a larger range of hobbies.

“I ride myself, so there’s an interest for me there. So I wanted to incorporate a bunch of different elements in addition to the boats, whether it was street, dirt, water or snow riding,” she said.

Southgate invited several local dealerships to the motorsports event, including Anchor Marine, Five Valley Honda Yamaha, Gull Boats, Kurt’s Polaris, Murdoch’s and Maverick Motorsports. Piedalue added that even the day before the event, powersports companies called and wanted to join the show. But they were told they had to wait until next year to join.

The motorsports show was Southgate’s first such event that included snowmobiles, side-by-sides, motorcycles, boats and ATVs. The original boat show was five days long and placed over a federal holiday for easier attendance. For the first run as a motorsports show, Piedalue said the mall started small with hopes to expand later. “It can be a hard time for some of the dealers to staff two locations; I didn’t want to tax them too much with too many days away from their primary business,” she added.

Southgate plans to make the event at least an annual event, with a commitment to showcasing a variety of local companies. “We had a couple dealers that weren’t able to make it,” Piedalue said. “Montana Harley-Davidson wasn’t able to make it, and I wanted to bring in more of that street-riding element. I want to get a couple more dealers involved as well.”

Each company paid a one-time fee of $500, similar to a kiosk arrangement.

The turnout for the event was almost as varied as the lines offered, from powersports enthusiasts to the interested mall spectators. Based on sales numbers at the mall, which were high, Piedalue said it’s safe to say that the event was a success.    

Lloyd Eckley, owner of Five Valley Honda Yamaha, also enjoyed the experience. “My favorite part was just talking to the people and having interested customers there. It wasn’t just your normal mall traffic or mall walkers. We had some powersports enthusiasts, and I talked to numerous people that were at Southgate just for the show.”

Maverick Motorsports of Missoula, Mont., brought 12 units to the well-attended mall event that featured local dealerships.

Maverick Motorsports of Missoula, Mont., brought 12 units to the well-attended mall event that featured local dealerships.

Eckley took 10 units with him to the mall and was able to show them off to an impressive crowd. “I thought the traffic was really good,” he added. “We’ve got a lot of leads, and we’ve gained a lot of interest.”

Maverick Motorsports owner Brent Gyuricza was able to show off some of his Triumph motorcycles at the event. “It was good exposure. Being a Triumph dealer, there were a lot of people who didn’t know they were making Triumph again, so that was really good for name recognition. We made a lot of contacts and were able to talk to a lot of people,” he said.

Of the original six powersports dealers, it’s clear that at least Five Valley Honda Yamaha and Maverick Motorsports are interested in attending again. Gyuricza took 12 units with him to the show, and if he’ll do anything differently next year, it will be bringing more Triumphs, he reported.

The dealership’s sales have shown that making contacts in person is a great way to rev up sales, especially during the cold winter months.

Five Valley Honda Yamaha of Missoula, Mont., set up a shop as part of Southgate Mall’s first motorsports event in February.

Five Valley Honda Yamaha of Missoula, Mont., set up a shop as part of Southgate Mall’s first motorsports event in February.

“Sometimes folks don’t make it into a dealership,” said Gyuricza. “It’s that opportunity to someone who used to ride and hasn’t in a while or maybe someone who wants to have a little more adventure and fun again.”

“It was great to see all the excitement,” said Piedalue, who looks forward to an even bigger show next year. “I think a lot of people unexpectedly happened upon it, and they were excited about having the variety of different exhibits.”

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