Mark your calendars for the Backcountry Base Camp
From all we heard about this new event so far, the SNEWS team is already giving the concept a double thumbs-up and encouraging any retailer going to Outdoor Retailer Winter Market to come in a day early to attend the Backcountry Base Camp. The inaugural event will be held in the Brighton backcountry in Utah's Big Cottonwood Canyon on Thursday, Jan. 29.
The Backcountry Base Camp, brainchild of Outdoor Retailer's Kenji Haroutunian, represents a brand new concept for retailers to further develop their skills and knowledge of the backcountry.
While the Base Camp is open to all Winter Market attendees, OR is offering VIP services to pre-qualified retailers who have been singled out by key exhibitors attending the demo (Salomon, Voile, Black Diamond and Garmont, to name a few). The VIP retailers will get priority access to demo equipment when there is a limited supply, as well as free lift tickets. All other attendees will likely have to purchase lift tickets and might want to bring their own gear as a backup in case demo gear is not available.
Backcountry Base Camp will feature an entire day of clinics, demos and tours led by Exum Mountain Guides, and hands-on product testing. The testing grounds are Brighton's Mount Millicent and the nearby backcountry terrain of Big Cottonwood Canyon. Clinics and backcountry tours will run on a rotating schedule with avalanche clinics beginning every two hours and guided tours leaving Base Camp approximately every hour. Brighton's slope-side Wasatch Mountain Club will act as Base Camp headquarters for clinics, seminars and the end-of-the-day party with food, refreshments and music.
Brighton (www.skibrighton.com) traditionally receives more than 500 inches of snow each season, which makes for ideal product testing conditions. Located at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, Brighton is 35 minutes southeast of downtown Salt Lake City and 35 miles from Salt Lake International Airport. For more information on exhibiting, hosting a clinic or sponsoring an event at the upcoming Backcountry Base Camp, give Andy Tompkins, Kenji Haroutunian or Marisa Nicholson a shout at 800-486-2701.
SNEWS View: Thank goodness the old concept of two days of waste-our-time ski demos is gone. The new concept, which will likely have a few hiccups the first year, seems like a fantastic solution! Giving priority love to retailers who are prequalified by exhibitors is even better. Good riddance to free ski days going to registered attendees who are the cousin of a cousin who knows a cousin that works for a local outdoor shop. Most folks don't realize OR spent over $30K in winters past on lift tickets, few of which were going to retailers actually demo'ing equipment for purchase consideration. Worse, exhibitors were often left with a fleet of trashed demo gear that wasn't worth much. For what? So the 10 percent of the attendees who really mattered could benefit while the 90 percent who were simply there for a play day could play? Creating a program where equipment can be demo'ed properly, and organizing educational clinics that can be offered to further train retail staff is exactly what this industry should be embracing, supporting and encouraging.
Flags mark new exhibitors
Outdoor Retailer has decided to give extra love to new exhibitors at the upcoming Winter Market. All companies new to the Outdoor Retailer show will be highlighted on the show floor with a "New Exhibitor" flag in their booth. In addition to the flags, OR will provide a comprehensive list of new exhibiting companies, with booth numbers, at the registration counter. Based on past shows, Outdoor Retailer estimates approximately 100 new outdoor companies will be exhibiting at the trade show in January and, as of this date, there are already 98 new companies registered for Winter Market. We first noticed this idea in practice at the recent Club Industry show in Chicago, and it is very cool. New companies need to get some added recognition -- something two of our current SNEWS team did when they developed and ran Outdoor Retailer's Daily Exposure in the '90s by creating specific coverage of new exhibitors.