Many things could be said about Outdoor Retailer this time around. I could talk about the new Petzl headlamp that auto adjusts. Or maybe I could talk about Sportiva's new "ugly as hell but still the exact same as every other Gore Tex fabric on the market" jackets. Maybe the new "Dry Down" from Sierra Designs is teh coolest. Or Maybe TNF's new base layer is the most badass ever.
Who knows what the next 'big thing' will be. Either way about it, there will be a whole new set of products next year to show off and talk about.
I don't want to come across as disenfranchised or jaded with the industry. I'm not. I truly love what I do and I love the people and customers I work with. I feel incredibly fortunate that I'm able to do what I do to make a living. The industry that I'm lucky enough to work with each and every day is absolutely incredible.
My friends and coworkers make the environment what it is.
Four and a half years ago Scott Backes talked to me for a few minutes about OR. I was disappointed that I wasn't going that summer and he told me that in time things would happen and everything would even out. What stuck with me was that he told me "OR is fun and exciting the first couple times around, but after 20 of them they get less exciting". At the time I vowed to not let that happen, but as time went on he proved more than right.
The first few times you're running around trying to see all the new products and shiny new toys. Then the excitement wears off and you're left realizing that with each passing season every company debuts the new "Next Thing" that will change the industry. Inevitably, very few new products change the way we do business.
My favorite part about all this though, is that through all the rotating new products. All of the reps switching lines and people getting new jobs. Through the changes, adjustments and new opportunities it truly feels like the one constant is the people you meet. The people you call your friends.
Pete and I have each had large scale changes to our lives in the last few months and I can't speak enough to how happy people were for the both of us. Whether it was Tres, Hunter, Bill and Annalee from the Southeast. Tim from the Northeast and Jeff from Texas. Emily from the Rockies and Gabe, Jamie and Brock from the Northwest and any number of countless people who came up to us and gave us their congratulations. There were truly too many to count. It was overwhelming.
Former sales managers, colleagues and customer service reps were all amazingly happy for the both of us. I can truly say that I've never experienced anything like it and it made for one of the most enjoyable trade shows I've ever experienced.
When I came into this industry it was largely about the product. It was about the companies and the cool things they had in their catalogs. What I didn't expect was for it to change so drastically to the people behind the products. I never expected to have friends like this and it makes me so happy to think about it. I'm not sure I've ever smiled so much at a tradeshow.
But don't you worry. The product is still there. I think Sportiva has really stumbled onto something here, making a full line of apparel out of materials people have been using for decades. Revolutionary. Funny enough, it seems to be straight out of Arc'teryx's playbook.
Nothing but smiles over here!
5 months ago