OIA Insider: Making the most of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market

Outdoor Retailer's Winter Market is a mere two weeks away, and many of us in the outdoor industry are frantically trying to get ready. There is no doubt that Outdoor Retailer is the most important national trade show event for the outdoor industry, and having a good show can set the tone for your retail business for the entire year.
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Outdoor Retailer's Winter Market is a mere two weeks away, and many of us in the outdoor industry are frantically trying to get ready. There is no doubt that Outdoor Retailer is the most important national trade show event for the outdoor industry, and having a good show can set the tone for your retail business for the entire year.

With that in mind, Outdoor Industry Association asked three industry veterans and OIA board members to offer up a few tips on how retailers can and should make the most of Winter Market.

Larry Harrison, president of Earth Games (sales rep)
Make an appointment. The reason people who are selling request an appointment is because they want to respect a buyer's time and give them their undivided attention. Another tip is to make sure you walk every nook and cranny of the show. The job of a buyer or independent manufacturer's agent is to find excitement to bring to their customers, and that can only be done through exploration.

Lastly, take a few minutes to observe the energy of the show. Good parties, good presentations, attractive and well-merchandised booths, all speak to the spirit of the companies exhibiting.

Jeff Weidman, co-owner of Rutabaga Paddlesports (retail owner)
Proactively make appointments. It is expensive to be there -- and you really need to get the most horsepower out it, or you are wasting your money. Go in with a plan. Work the show on your timeframe, not on the reps. Try to group product (categories) together so you can compare them from meeting to meeting. If you look at shoes, then boats, then shirts, then more shoes, it makes it harder to compare products. It is far easier to go shoes, shoes, shoes, then boats, boats, boats.

Divide up so the buyer (or buyers) are looking at product and the principal is dealing on the marketing front, looking at what is happening in the industry, and learning how to work together with the manufacturers to better promote their products.  

Always allocate time to look at everything you don't buy. Make sure to attend OIA's educational events -- they are valuable and worth going to. Often, the insight you gain there can translate into better buying decisions on the floor. Don't forget, some of the best business is done in the aisles. Take time to talk to other dealers to find out what is and isn't working for them -- and most importantly have a great time.

Skip Yowell, vice president of global public relations for JanSport (manufacturer)
Often, people want to get of town on the last day of the show. Rather than heading for the hills, take this time to walk every aisle of the show. It is a great time to talk to people you may not have had the chance to connect with earlier. Retailers should make sure to check in with the non-profits upstairs. Often, you can find ways to interact with them in your community that are mutually beneficial. In our highly competitive retail landscape, fostering community not only supports the growth of our industry, but can be a key to having a successful retail business.

Outdoor Industry Association suggests kicking off Outdoor Retailer with the Industry Breakfast. At this winter's breakfast, OIA is bringing back the Industry Awards, releasing the latest State of the Industry Report, and featuring keynote speaker Ray Anderson on the topic of Corporate Social Responsibility. The Industry Breakfast is a great opportunity to get your bearings and connect with old friends before hitting the show floor. Please join us at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28 at the Marriott across the street from the Salt Palace Convention Center for the complimentary Industry Breakfast.  

SNEWS® and Outdoor Industry Association have teamed up to provide our readers with information updates from OIA. These updates will be published in SNEWS® every two weeks and will provide our readers with insights into OIA programs, benefits, initiatives and more that serve to provide a solid foundation for industry growth. If you are not already an OIA member, we encourage you to become one. For more information, go towww.outdoorindustry.org.

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