We Sweltered Our Way Through Outdoor Retailer, & It Was Worth It

In case you were wondering, Salt Lake City is hot. Like really hot. Like standing-on-the-surface-of-the-sun-while-drinking-coffee kind of hot. We know this because we were there for this year’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Show. Anyone who’s mildly interested in outdoor activities, from patio drinking to backcountry camping, was there, and I’m guessing they were all drenched in sweat the entire time because, you know, it was hot and stuff.

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But aside from being set in a scene straight out of Mad Max, the show itself was a huge success. If you’re not aware, the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market is the industry’s most anticipated tradeshow, attracting more than 29,000 outdoor enthusiasts and just over 1,600 makers, producers, and retailers ready to show off their newest, most innovative products of the year.

So, yeah, it’s a big deal. Our business development team, Kurt and John, returned from the show exhausted, inspired, and brimming with insightful information. Here, a few golden nuggets from the event:

Top Vendor Booth Display

The award goes to Patagonia, whose booth blew us out of the water and inspired our creative arsenal like whoa. From social call-outs that encouraged environment protection to their stunning branded photography displays to their Worn Wear truck, Patagonia certainly knows how to appeal to the outdoorsman’s senses.

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Top 2 Innovative Products

1.  It appears YETI has, once again, outdone themselves. In the midst of their hard-cooler phenomenon, they developed a product extension that seems to have ignited a retail revolution: the soft-sided cooler that’s “anything but soft.” It’s durable, it’s convenient, and it looks really, really good in the wild. Basically, it makes every other cooler seem lame in comparison, and it was a major hit at this year’s show. Attendees stood in line for more than hour to spend $150 for one of these bad boys. I’ll just add it to my Christmas list and see what happens.

2. Sierra Nevada is known for their Torpedo Extra IPA. They’re masters of their craft, and there’s no doubt they produce some of the best IPAs in the market. Now, they’re taking things one step further with their Hop Hunter IPA, a unique brew produced from wet hops steam-distilled into hop oil. Brewing with wet hops results in a more fruitful, flavorful beer that’s bursting with citrus and floral aromas. Sounds like they, too, have started a revolution, and we definitely like the sound of it.

IMG_9147Top 3 Tips for Making the Most of the Tradeshow Experience

1. Stay social. Most tradeshow conventions do a great job at hosting a wide variety of social events, like happy hour, mixers, and parties. We strongly recommend attending as many of those activities as possible, as the overall atmosphere is typically ideal for productive, authentic networking engagements between busy industry professionals. Kurt and John attended as many as their social butterfly hearts could, and they ended up making strong connections with big-time brands.

2. Have a plan. Do your research and develop a strategy. In other words, don’t go chasing waterfalls at every booth. It won’t work, and you’ll end up falling down a handful of rabbit holes you won’t be able to escape. The smarter your game plan is, the better off you’ll be. Trust us.

3. Be genuine. In an industry that craves authenticity, you need to allow conversations to grow organically, and don’t sell, sell, sell from the get-go. Treat your target touch-points like a friend, be open, and get to know them personally, not artificially. Be yourself, is what we mean.

Thanks for another great show, Outdoor Retailer! See you next year.

 

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