Announcing: 2010 SNEWS / Backpacker Retailer of the Year winners

The 2010 SNEWS® / Backpacker Retailer of the Year awards are announced, and a last-minute prize from ispo sends the overall winner to Munich.

The 2010 SNEWS® / Backpacker Retailer of the Year awards were presented at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market during an after-show gathering at the Red Door on Jan. 21. Rod Johnson, president of Midwest Mountaineering, in Minneapolis, Minn., was all smiles as he accepted the award for the overall 2010 Retailer of the Year (see image to right -- picture left to right are Michael Hodgson, president of SNEWS, Jon Dorn, editor in chief of Backpacker, and Rod Johnson). Johnson and his team also garnered a best-in-class award for community involvement.

This is the second year in a row Midwest Mountaineering has been honored with a Retailer of the Year (ROTY) award. Last year, the store took top honors for encouraging the growth of outdoor sports. This year, as overall winner, Johnson wins an all-expense paid trip to Munich, Germany, sponsored by the ispo trade show, to attend the ispo winter show Feb. 7-10, 2010.

Five other stores were recognized for being best-in-class in each of the following categories:

  • Sustainable business: Dynamic Earth Equipment Company – Springfield, MO
  • Conservation: Great Outdoor Provision Co. – Raleigh, NC
  • Youth involvement: Rutabaga Paddlesports – Madison, WI 
  • Growth of outdoor sports: Appalachian Outdoors – State College, PA
  • Online: – Salt Lake City, Utah

SNEWS and Backpacker magazine congratulate all of these winners, and all of those nominated. Nine other stores -- Backwoods,, Half Moon Outfitters (winner of the 2009 best-in-class award for sustainable business), Mountain Gear, Nantahala Outdoor Center, REI, Pack & Paddle, The Trailhead, and Rock/Creek (winner of the 2009 best-in-class award for online business) made the final 15 in the rounds of judging and will, along with the six award winners, be honored with feature stories over the next few months in SNEWS.

How did we narrow the field? In March 2009, SNEWS and Backpacker magazine put out a call for nominations seeking the best retailers in the United States. The responses poured in, with hundreds of votes coming in from reps, retailers themselves (naturally) and customers. As was the case in 2009, the best nomination forms came from customers who typically praised the retailers and shared stories of excellent customer service as each lobbied passionately for their choice for best retailer. Over 100 stores received nominations.

The slate of finalists, determined in the first two rounds of voting, was presented to a panel of judges (which included Backpacker magazine and SNEWS editors) who evaluated each store based on personal and customer experience, reputation in the outdoor community, quality of customer feedback from the nomination forms received, and overall store excellence based on demonstrated excellence in community involvement, sustainability efforts, store training levels and more.

The Retailer of the Year overall winner and best-in-class category winners were presented with a plaque suitable for public display, honoring the accomplishment. In addition, each retailer will receive:

  • A store profile in a Retailer of the Year showcase series on
  • Prominent mention in a Retailer of the Year ad in the upcoming Backpacker’s Gear Guide on the newsstands in April 2010.
  • A customer appreciation in-store party.
  • A digital image of the SNEWS / Backpacker Retailer of the Year logo suitable for use as a window decal, website display, and award recognition on all letterhead, brochures and other store publications.

Our goal is to recognize exemplary retailers and provide a platform that all specialty outdoor retailers will strive to reach. Nominations for the 2011 SNEWS / Backpacker Retailer of the Year award will be accepted beginning in March 2010 at Retailers, get your customers ready to tell their stories as to why your store deserves the next Retailer of the Year award.

--Michael Hodgson