Cathy Frampton never stops generating ideas on how CWEC can get out in front of the public and raise awareness for Women's cycling, so when she saw an announcement for the 10th annual Chicago Winter Bike Swap held at Harper College on January 28th, she wondered what would happen if we reserved a table for ourselves?
The CWEC board discussed the idea and mobilized to make it happen. Annie organized a team of volunteers to work the event, and Morleigh used social media to raise awareness and solicit donations. CWEC hit the jackpot when team member Christine Thornburg started her spring cleaning early and donated a number of bikes and bags of gently used clothing. Several other Chicago cyclists added to our inventory of desirable goods, and we arrived at the show with a well-rounded assortment of items to sell.
We were not even unpacked before fellow vendors started looking through our merchandise asking "How much for...." Apparently, the early bird does, in fact, get the worm at the Bike Swap. At 9:25 AM one of the organizers walked by and commented that the attendant line was out the front door and wrapped around the corner of the building with people eager to get in. At precisely 9:30 AM a school bell rang letting the vendors know that the doors were officially open for business.
A few minutes after the bell rang an earnest young man stopped by our booth and pointed at the clothing donated by the Thornburg's and asked; "How much for the entire box?" We had so much clothing that we decided to set prices for items and let people rummage through the assortment instead of trying to organize it all. Jerseys were $10 and bibs were $15. He said he would take everything. As Annie counted the items another customer asked him what he was going to do with it all. He told us that he was taking everything back to his college for the school's cycling team to wear during practices. They would wear these items for practice and save their good team kits for races. He offered his sincere thanks and walked away with the entire box of donated clothing.
As the day progressed customers became more chatty and less deal driven. A table manned by (only) women was a curiosity which prompted a variety of questions. Volunteers Kayci and Lisa were on point with thoughtful answers to them all. "Why should I support Women's Cycling?", "Why do you race outside of your home state?" and "You don't look like a cyclist to me" were met with grace, poise, and intelligent answers which helped introduce many new people to the CWEC team. Having racers Annie and Jenny Ann there to also answer questions and give hints, tips, and tricks on how to best use the equipment we had for sale helped people make a direct connection between buying our goods and supporting our racers.