Outdoor Retailer Summer 2018 Recap

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You may be thinking, "What gives, KAMP? It's been over a week since Retailer, and no recap, yet?" The simple reply is that that's because OR was so productive for us, that we've been too busy applying what we've learned and setting up dealer accounts with our nine, new vendors. Of course, there is also the fact that we hosted a SoFar Sounds music concert in-store with three acts (more on that in a later post).
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ROAD TO RETAILER
Somewhere in Missouri.
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From St. Louis, the drive to Denver is about 12 hours, so to break up the monotony of state rest areas, we decided to make a pit stop in Kansas City at the City Market. We used the opportunity to stock up on all of the produce we'd need for the next few days in Denver, to avoid eating out, but we allowed ourselves to also grab some grub while we were there at the amazing Beignet, where we ate the delicious Voodoo Veghead Beignets (highly recommend!).  
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Sign in Beignet that made it into the IG Story for Outdoor Retailer! lol
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We managed to make it into Denver before nightfall, and cozied into our AirBnB in the city's charming Whittier Neighborhood. Named after abolitionist poet, John Greenleaf Whittier, the neighborhood was one of the first integrated communities west of the Mississippi, and displays an architectural beauty, that frankly, reminded us a lot of St. Louis. That said, diversity has been impacted in recent years resulting from rapid gentrification and soaring home costs (a 1200 square-foot home costs $500,000!). Still, it is a really pleasant, tree-lined area, and the Whittier Cafe, a wonderful African-owned business that describes itself in this way, "'The activists' coffee shop' is a nickname we proudly accept. We do believe in social justice and support related causes. We also have a justice fund. Ask if you need a break on a cup of coffee or want to contribute.", is a definite recommend. 

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Our AirBnB

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OUTDOOR RETAILER

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If you've never been to OR before, it is in a word, bananas. For the outdoor enthusiast, this convention is everything that you love under one roof, and about 4 gajillion of your friends celebrating that fact in style. The layout ranges from traditional product vendor booths (some intimate, some as big as our store), to factories with all of their raw materials and technology out for display, to advocacy groups raising awareness, to educational lectures, classes and presentations, and so much more. It is a total blast, and its new host city (OR recently moved from Salt Lake City to Denver) does it well.  

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Prior to going, we put together a strategy for the show, which we think is so important to getting the most out of attending it.

  • First, we needed some face to face time with some of our vendors, and we scheduled those. It might not seem so important, but this is the best way to get the low-down on products coming down the pike and selling tips straight from the guys and gals making them. While we are not yet big enough to do much forecasting with our bottom line, this does give us an opportunity to informally plan on what we'll be buying soon. 
  • Second, we recognized that camping/travel accessories sell well for us, despite this being a bit of a weakness in our inventory. We also observed that we needed to bring down our average price point, as per our customers' feedback. So, buying along these lines was priority for us, and you'll see this reflected in some of the new lines and products coming into the store. Many of the discussions and meetings that we had at OR were geared toward this.
  • Third, we mapped out some of the educational offerings that were either most meaningful to our segment or played toward weaknesses in our knowledge base. The Outdoor Industry does an excellent job of programming lectures and classes at OR that solve real problems that retailers face (as does SNEWS in its written coverage of the industry all year long). Through these events, we learned what we are doing right, and where we need to improve. We were also very pleased to see inclusiveness as such a priority for the Industry, and the topic of many a lecture or event.
  • Fourth, we had hoped to meet with some of our friends out there to either finally get a face to face or just share in the jubilation. Sadly, we fell short on a lot of those meet-ups because of our schedule. Next time though, we hope to hang with you (I'm sure you know who you are)! 

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gotta munch when you can

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our end of the day faces

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As the conference days wear on, the business tone switches over to something a bit more casual with plenty of live music performances and happy hours throughout. Eventually, the center begins to empty out, and the whole gang moves into full-on party mode.

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INDUSTRY PARTY

 

a little brass before the DJ begins

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the pretzel guy was super stoked about pretzels

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We had an awesome time, Outdoor Retailer! Thanks for showing the universe why the outdoor industry is the best.

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