Packraft straps are back in stock, now in either rainbow or gold with black buckle. Stocking stuffer, or tool to tie poorly behaved guests up in the shed? In any case fully seasonally appropriate.
In other consumerist news, a new outdoor trade show launched recently. Back in SLC, and supposedly excluding apparel and the many extraneous lifestyle exhibitors which have swollen Outdoor Retailer in the past decade. They’re talking a strong and potentially relevant game:
“The outdoor industry was forged by men and women who took the same risks in business as they did on rivers and mountains. They refused to accept the status quo. They built gear that would keep their friends safer, dryer, faster, warmer. They were the scrappy, selling gear out of the back of their cars and met once a year in Reno for some commerce and community. Years later, the outdoors has become mainstream. Mass markets love our plaid, our fleece, our sandals. The outdoor lifestyle is a way of life for tens of millions of people. But our industry is at a crossroads. Big boxes are failing our brands. Amazon is suffocating our local gear shops. The big are getting bigger. And private equity and Wall Street investors are threatening the soul of our industry. The Big Gear Show is a show for the rest of us – the innovators, the start-ups, the domestic manufacturers, and the local gear shops where the staff walk the talk, bringing in novices and sending out enthusiasts.”
I’m very open to all of this, along with the perhaps logical extension that things like running, which the Outdoor Industry Association has long used to make participation numbers appear to grow, are no more outdoor activities than golf. Growing the metaphorical tent is good, but needs to happen properly. Core users, the kind who would like to attend trade shows and be part of the community (a prime virtue of trade shows according to every poll SNEWS ever does), are the more valuable area of growth, and the people who sink big funds into hard goods anyway. Too long has the outdoor industry, and outdoor shops, slung along like a remora on the belly of the general public who like nifty jackets for the coffee shop. Refocusing on the core of the industry can’t happen, in my view, without investing in the soul of the whole industry, which employees often forget is not them.
To whit; the thought of an OR a closer drive than Denver and without all the BS of Wolverine boots and the towering TNF booth, interests me, as a longtime nerd and member of the general public. So then, how to use that to sell the stoke (ha) and not leave shops stuck with old stock?