The SNEWS team continues with the second in a series of reports designed to provide you, our reader, with complete coverage of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, from parties to special events to press conferences to product trends, as well as coverage of the whispers heard in the aisles and corners of booths.
The toughest sell at the show, bar none!
As you hoofed it around the show floor, logging steps with your pedometer from the Thorlo booth and searching for the newest in human-powered transportation, you may have wondered about the automated scooters zooming around next to the Chisco booth.
Those were Segway Scooters, the gyroscopic marvels that make it possible to travel 12.5 miles an hour just by leaning forward. One hundred people a day signed a waiver against physical and emotional injury, strapped on a bike helmet and gave it a spin, Matt Fosey, who was shilling the devices for Segway of Salt Lake, told SNEWSÂ®.
We told one of our editors he needed to experience the moment and with a swift kick in the seat of his pants, launched him over to the booth. He admits the experience of shooting forward toward the nearby recycling bins, bopping back and twirling was surprisingly exciting, especially since he did so while standing still as a mannequin -- frozen in either abject terror or exhilaration, we're still not sure.
Andre Tiffany, who does marketing for Gore, thought they were pretty cool. "We have so many things that aren't human-powered," he said "You have your compass, but you use your GPS. The whole idea of us being entirely self-reliant -- that's bulls--t."
As of Saturday, Fosey had sold three. He was working hard, but he had to know this was going to be a tough crowd to sell.
A small-plane pilot who sauntered up while our tester was still hyperventilating was told by Fosey, "You could put it in the back of your plane to help you get to the hangar."
"That's where I keep my mountain bike," the pilot replied, before walking away under his own power.
Walking for Dollars
At this winter's Outdoor Retailer show, Thorlo offered a free pedometer and pair of Thorlos to every attendee, inviting show participants to "walk the show in Thorlos." Creating friendly competition among participants, Thorlos offered $500 for the most steps taken during the trade show. Mark Moreno of Sandy, Utah's, Frontal Lobotomy, LLC won the contest taking 107,836 steps for the duration of the four-day show. Moreno took the contest way too seriously, stating that he "maximized his steps by pacing during conversations and traveling the long road when needed." Moreno claims the contest helped him get more exercise throughout the show, and that his feet felt great in his Thorlos -- what else would he say? We're happy for him of course, but did he really have to pace while in the bathroom? Second place went to David Disney of Snellville, Ga., and third to Joe Coates of the Trail Shop Inc. in Seattle, Wash.
The Party Scene
Hooked knows how to throw a party! -- The Hooked on the Outdoors Freeride Party featuring the band Cracker really rocked -- especially for the second set once they tweaked the sound-system a bit. Nearly 2,000 show attendees made their way to the ballroom venue for what appeared to be the biggest party of the show. Word from the aisles and in after-show chit-chat is that this was one of the best parties in recent memory, and not just because the music was good. Quite a few attendees managed to also walk off with some high-end gear/prizes from the likes of Salomon, Hooked on the Outdoors, Reno-Tahoe and Nike ACG. And you just had to love the fact that Reno-Tahoe was one of the sponsors at an event held in Salt Lake City. Think it isn't playing hard to earn the official nod to host upcoming OR shows?
There must be new clauses in climbing sponsorship contracts -- We noticed that aging big wall phenom Hans Florine was slinging Gray Goose and Mountain Dew mixers at a penthouse party we attended on top of the Hilton, or Sheraton -- we honestly can't remember which, clearly indicating we were researching too many parties. He was wearing an apron and everything -- scary. Meanwhile, two blocks away at the Prana-sponsored post PCA comp sock hop, the best and burliest climbers of the moment (Rosaasen, Sharma, Lee, Johnson, etc.) sat at fold-out tables and drank soda high school dance-style. Where's the glory in being a badass climber these days?
Hot vibes -- Our hats off to The North Face team for their party which was packed while the air pulsed with salsa music. TNF gave away old-school terry headbands and wrist bands in patriotic red, white and blue which garners kudos for being truly strange, but in a cool sort of way. Our eyes on the scene noted lots of dancing action on the dance floor, and some action not related to dancing. As could be expected in a party with salsa music, there were a few casualties as bodies tried to move in ways they were never designed to and yes, this resulted in a few spilled drinks on the dance floor.
Didn't women get an invite too? -- The Cloudveil and Horny Toad Red Door party on the other hand was an intimate, catch a drink (martinis seemed to be the specialty of the house) before the big shindigs affair. Loved the cool old brick bar with smoky atmosphere, but we're wondering where the women were. Apparently women didn't get the invite because we noticed lots of men in attendance, but very few party-goers of the female persuasion -- hats off to the Backbone women who showed up in force to support their clients. Perhaps the change of venue affected the turnout? In past years, the Cloudveil and Horny Toad team held the party at the Dead Goat Saloon, a bar that is now more about women dancing on a stage devoid of clothing from the waist up than it is about having a party with drinks and friends.
Eating from booth to booth
If it is one thing the SNEWS team knows, it is how to ferret out free sips and snacks to keep the energy at an appropriately alert level while working the trade show. We again are thankful for breakfast each morning at the Dunham booth with waffles and strawberries, of course. And, we'd be remiss if we didn't point out Polartec is always a winner with its lunch spread which becomes a Haagen Dazs ice cream social by 2 p.m. Around 4 p.m., we're starting to drag a little and there is no better pick-me-up than a joke, smile and margarita mixed by Julio at the Ojai booth. By 5 p.m., it's time to hit any one of a dozen booths for evening snacks with microbrew beers by the bottle or on tap. Our favorite afternoon food group this year, though, were the martinis and sushi at the Canada Goose booth on Saturday -- it's a wonder we got any real work done at all.