Are you Outdoor Retailer ready? With just two weeks away from the polite chaos that ensues twice a year in Salt Lake City, the real question is, have you booked a hotel? If you procrastinated like me last August, all I can tell you is good luck. Last summer’s borderline dreadful accommodations motivated me to book a more suitable room in October and I still had to fight. I know, everyone complains about the lack of rooms, but somehow we just can’t imagine OR in Vegas. Although the weather would be nice. What really happens at OR and why do we faithfully continue to participate? The overbooked meeting schedules, sitting on the floor catching up on emails at the nearest outlet. The setting up and tearing down of what each year continues to be a more outdone version of the previous year’s booths. Some of which resemble small villages. Who designs these masterpieces in retail design? Such was the case for Keen complete with an onsite bus where private meetings were conducted. Impressive to say the last. Not to mention Keen Fest. Rory really outdid himself with the whole production. Fondly remembering the street tacos. Mmm. Tacos. I suspect the usual banter, show and tell and networking will not fail us this time around. There’s the line on Wednesday morning. People fighting to get their badges at the last minute, arguing with the show staff. Osprey will be scoping out Gregory and likewise. By Thursday at 5pm (or sooner) the booths transform into mini house parties, some with live music and everyone has beer. Beer by the keg, the case, the truckload. I was most impressed by a certain brand’s ice sculpture. Really, it was pretty spectacular. The secret interviews that take place were not so secret last year when it was widely rumored that Patagonia was conducting several openly in their booth. While I can neither confirm nor deny this, a word of wisdom to both sides of the interview desk; don’t talk about it at the show. Everyone knows it happens. Why wouldn’t it? With thousands of industry pros from all over the globe it would be a crime not to execute a little exploratory conversation. While there’s plenty of background noise business is being conducted and by the plenty. Although I get the sense that most meetings are scheduled well in advance between buyers and brands. On the plane ride last year I sat next to a buyer at Amazon, who according to her already had all meetings lined up and planned on getting in and out of town, with a quickness. Sometimes it’s brand awareness for the smaller new comers. I found a handful of new yoga lines that I’ve since followed. So there’s that. What is it about OR that we really love? What brings us back? That’s simple really. It’s the product & the people. The show and tell of what’s new & innovative. Always a favorite is Arc’Teryx. I had four meetings scheduled with various hiring managers and could barely get into the booth because everyone was fawning over their footwear. People are still talking about it. A candidate actually mentioned it today over the phone. For me, it’s a great way to meet a number of clients and candidates all in one central location. Catching up with old friends and meeting new faces. The sample sales aren’t bad either. Let’s face it, we love product and the people who create the things we did not know we needed until OR. Looking to add to your busy agenda? Email me if you want to stand in the coffee line together or grab a drink at the ice sculpture.
Photo Credit: Outdoor Retailer