Outdoor Academy SoCal registration open for free training

The two-day event for retail staff, April 24-25, features more than 80 brands doling out expertise on the latest spring products.

As with many reps in the outdoor industry, it’s become more of a challenge for Greg Kaiser to get clinic time at the store level.

“Even if you do get in, you reach maybe only a couple of the staff who are available, and you don’t always have their full attention on the sales floor,” Kaiser, of Global Contacts, said.

Turn to the retailer’s perspective, and there’s the stress of trying to schedule a large number of reps jockeying for clinic time.

Those hassles might be why collective training events such as Outdoor Academy Southern California continue to grow. For retailers and their staff in the region, the gathering provides an opportunity to tap product expertise from numerous reps and brands in a single place at a single time.

Entering its 13th year, the upcoming two-day event, April 24-25, stands poised to welcome its biggest crowd yet, Kaiser told SNEWS. The event’s outdoor booth space at Irvine Lake in Silverado, Calif. is sold out with more than 40 booths representing 80 brands (see attendees below). Last year’s event drew a record of about 600 attendees, about 550 of whom were retail staff.

“It’s become a valuable event for both the reps and retailers,” Kaiser said. He and Dan Miller of Pacific Crest Trading have helped keep Outdoor Academy SoCal going these past few years, several iterations past its early days as Sport Chalet’s Camp-o-rama.

In its current form, the event is open and free to staff from any outdoor retailer, including two nights of camping (April 23-24) in the park, if they wish. Gore-Tex, as it has for the past several years, will sponsor free lunches for attendees. Online registration is open until April 22.

Booth registration, which cost manufacturers $350 each, is closed for this year’s event, although there is a waiting list, Kaiser said. Outdoor Academy SoCal has outgrown its venue, and organizers are searching for alternative options for next year, he said.

At the event, attendees will rotate through about 10 sessions with the reps each day, primarily covering new product hitting the floor this spring, along with some salesmanship training. The number of rotations has increased this year by varying the duration of sessions. Instead of eight sessions lasting all about 40 minutes, there are now seven sessions lasting 45/50 minutes and three sessions lasting 10/15 minutes.

Kaiser said the demand came from some of the smaller brands that didn’t need a lengthy amount of time to run through their product.

--David Clucas

Brands attending Outdoor Academy Southern California 2012:

  • Adventure Medical Kits
  • AGS Labs Esbit Stoves
  • Aquamira
  • Arc'teryx
  • Backpacker's Pantry
  • Big Agnus
  • Black Diamond
  • Bluewater
  • Camelbak
  • Coghlan's
  • Columbia
  • Costa
  • Crazy Creek
  • Dakota Watches
  • DeLorme
  • Deuter Backpacks
  • EarthSmart
  • Easton Mountain Products
  • egear
  • Eureka
  • evolv Climbing
  • Five Fingers
  • Geiger Rig
  • Gibbon Slacklines
  • GoalZero
  • GoPro
  • GORE-TEX® and WINDSTOPPER® Products
  • Granite Gear
  • Gregory
  • GSI
  • Icebreaker
  • Injinji Socks
  • JanSport
  • JetBoil
  • Katadyn Water Filters
  • Keen
  • Kleen Kanteen
  • Komperdell
  • La Sportiva
  • LEKI Trekking Poles
  • Lowa Footwear
  • Magellan GPS
  • Mammut
  • Marmot Clothing
  • McNett Corporation Gear Aid
  • Merrell
  • Metolius Climbing
  • Mile High Mountaineering
  • Montrail
  • Mountain Hardwear
  • Mountain House
  • MSR - Cascade Designs
  • Nemo Tents
  • Nikwax
  • Nite Ize
  • Optimus Stoves
  • Osprey
  • Pac Safe
  • Pacific Import Company
  • Pacific Outdoor Equipment
  • Petzl
  • Royal Robbins
  • Salomon footwear
  • Sawyer Products
  • Scarpa
  • Sierra Designs Clothing and Gear
  • Slumberjack
  • Snow peak
  • Sole footbeds and sandals
  • SPOT
  • Steri Pen
  • Sterling Rope
  • Suunto
  • Teva
  • The North Face
  • TrekSta
  • Vasque
  • Wigwam
  • Wisconsin Pharmacal