Still Living the Corporate Dream: A First-Timer’s Take on OR
What do you get when you put a ton of high-tech outdoor gear, dogs, beer, fashion shows, bicycle-powered blenders and outdoor-loving people from all over together? Some call it Outdoor Retailer, I call it utopia.
So I got my wish. After going on my first business trip to New York, I got the opportunity to go out West when the timing of my Utah ski vacation collided with the Sundance Film Festival. Since I’ve never been, I made a point to stop by Outdoor Retailer before heading to the Timberland Retreat in Park City.
I had heard about the size of the OR show and the beauty of Utah’s snow-covered mountains, but seeing both for the first time blew me away. Three things shocked me from the moment I stepped off the plane:
1. The Mountains: My jaw hit the cab floor when I laid my eyes on the most amazing, majestic looking mountains I’d ever seen surrounding Salt Lake City. The taxi driver must have thought I was crazy as I babbled on about how beautiful they were and how fantastic the skiing must be while practically bouncing out of my seat with excitement. What he didn’t know was that I was a first-time visitor from New Hampshire who arrived in Utah with visions of the Green and White Mountain ranges as a reference point.
2. The Booths at the OR Show: While feeling like a kid in a candy store (brand new ski tech around every corner), I couldn’t get over the number of brands present and the sheer size of the booths. Some booths, including Timberland’s, had enormous columns and panels climbing to the convention center ceiling.
3. The Business of the Outdoor Industry: OR was very different from the consumer shows and expos I’ve been to where vendors show and sell their products directly to consumers. At OR, there were private meeting rooms in most of the booths where buyers and merchandisers from outdoor stores were reviewing the new products and placing orders for the fall 2011 season. There were also a lot editors from media outlets checking out the new products and trends for next fall.
While walking around the convention center, one of the coolest things I noticed was the abundance of recycled and eco-conscious elements on the show floor. The Timberland booth featured bike-powered blenders to make smoothies. One brand showcased their footwear on reused cardboard cylinders and another vendor constructed their entire booth from cardboard tubes and other packing waste left over from the initial setup day. In addition to displaying their sweet new gear, some brands even had signage about environmental causes to which they donate a percentage of their profits. It was clear (and relieving) to see that like Timberland, lots of outdoor companies are into protecting the outdoors. How eco-awesome is that?
Overall, post-Utah I can still say that I’m living the corporate dream. And with partial thanks to my first OR experience, it’s official – I work in most exciting industry on the planet!
Oh, and the skiing wasn’t so bad either…