Stickers: A Love Affair

June 14, 2018 by  

BMX Stickers: A Love Affair
One of the best things about going to the big races as a young BMXer was coming home with a haul of stickers from “Factory Row” (admittedly, before it was called that).

Hunting stickers at nationals was the way we killed time between motos, and made a lasting emotional connection to brands. Even if we weren’t riding the products of a given brand, if we had their stickers. They went on coolers, toolboxes, school notebooks, the workbench at home–anywhere, really. The one above, from the 1980s, belonging to John Freewalt, Gavin’s dad, is a prime example, and still in use today.

Of course, that’s why companies give them away–to tee-up a lasting reminder of their name and logo whenever you reach for a Gatorade, or a wrench.

Recently, some BMX Industry friends and I had a discussion about how kids are not coming around, asking for stickers at the races anymore. That was a big shock to me, given how big a deal it was for racers in the not-to-distant past, and previous generations.

These are reps from household-name brands who reportedly handed out 500 stickers, posters and other brand swag in a weekend. Now? A couple dozen, on a “good” day.

So, what’s up? Why are BMXers not hunting stickers at nationals anymore? In pondering that question, we came up with a few possibilities:

1). Brands don’t HAVE stickers at their pit to hand out.

2). Riders don’t KNOW to go hunting stickers.

3). Riders don’t CARE about hunting stickers.

4). The nature of today’s racing is such that riders are too busy at the races (warming up, cooling down, psyching up, posting on social media, or being otherwise-engaged) to hunt stickers.

BMX News sent out an undercover operative at the Dixieland Nationals to hunt stickers from every team and brand tent there. Here’s what he came back with:

BMX News' undercover sticker hunter's haul
No question, it was a good haul of branded goodness. So, #1 on the list above is busted; brands HAVE plenty of stickers to hand out.

*Bonus points to TNT Bicycles for giving out a tote bag as well, but it wouldn’t fit in the shot.

Busting/Confirming the next three on the list is up to you. With the Midwest National starting today, your assignment is as follows:

* If you’re a rider, take some time between motos and go on the hunt. Say hi at the team/brand tents and ask for some stickers. Maybe even introduce yourself; you never know where that can lead.

* If you’re a parent, tell your rider to put down the phone between motos (and leave it), and go out on the hunt. It will be great conversation for the trip home, and you’ll remember the race, and all that happened there, based on what you bring back (moreso than how you did, trust me).

What’s that you say? You’re not going to Rockford? That’s OK, keep this story in your head for the next big race you go to. Your coolers and toolboxes will thank you for decades to come.

—Mike Carruth, Sticker Hunter
The BMX Archives

Thanks to John Freewalt for the top photo, and the memories!

SWAG ALERT! Post your sticker haul from Rockford in the comments of our Facebook post on this story. The top five will earn a BMX News swag bag, mailed directly to you (no double-dipping! One trip to each tent).