Q&A: Outdoor Recreation Roundtable's new VP, Lindsey Davis

After saying goodbye to her outdoor startup Wylder Goods earlier this year, Lindsey Davis has taken on a new challenge at ORR.
Author:
Publish date:
Lindsey Davis, formerly of Wylder Goods, has taken on a new role as VP of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. Courtesy Lindsey Davis.

Lindsey Davis, formerly of Wylder Goods, has taken on a new role as VP of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. Courtesy Lindsey Davis.

Earlier this month, when Lindsey Davis announced the permanent closure of Wylder Goods, the online retailer she founded with Jainee Dial in 2016, she mused on the idea of success. "You have to measure your own success in life," she said. "It’s important to know when to fold and give yourself permission to do that." For Wylder Goods, "it was time."

It was a bittersweet moment for Davis, but softened by the news that she had a "fantastic job lined up in the industry." Today, she announced her new position. Davis will take over as VP of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, joining executive director Jessica Wahl and the rest of the organization at one of its most challenging and important moments, as it helps the industry navigate the hardships of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic fallout.

We caught up with Davis to ask about her first days on the job, current projects, and her hopes for the coming months and years.

You officially started last week. What have the first few days on the job been like?

It's a really interesting time to be joining an organization because everybody is doing uncharacteristic work right now. It's far from business as usual. I'm meeting people in a phase of management that is unprecedented, meeting colleagues and peers on Zoom with babies in their laps—it's a vulnerable and humanizing time to be meeting everybody.

My first job was applying for the Paycheck Protection Program and jumping into the CARES Act. I would say that's a pretty unique way to start a job. But now I'm working on a long-term survey project with all of the association members that will serve as a tool for tracking changes in the industry as the pandemic unfolds. It will give us the data we need to do advocacy work and make sure outdoor recreation is prioritized in all these funding packages that are being discussed.

Can you talk more about this survey?

We're working with Lee Davis, the executive director of the Outdoor Economy Initiative at Oregon State University, to build it. Right now it looks like a survey, but eventually it's going to exist as a dashboard that will help us measure the impact of the pandemic—specifically the differences between the various recreation sectors. It's going to be interesting to look at when it's all done. Some of the industry's sectors are actually benefiting from people being home. Others are obviously suffering.

Has anything surprised you about the role so far?

On my third day, I was on a call with the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We were talking about deferring the payment of excise taxes that are collected from archery and fishing organizations, which has never happened before. It's an unprecedented advocacy moment. ORR is asking for relief for those businesses so they don't get hit with a bill during this difficult time. These are landmark moments for the industry. Also, just to be on a call with the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was a novel experience! The level at which ORR operates is really impressive.

How does your new role compare to running a startup?

What's immediately different is knowing that I have the backing of decades of wisdom and support—both from the board and the member organizations of ORR. It feels like I have access to expertise in a way that I didn't have with Wylder. That's a really good feeling. I was hungry for that after running a company for so long. In the startup world, there's often nobody to give you course corrections, or mentor you, or give you guidance from an objective standpoint. That sort of institutional wisdom is something I'm grateful for at ORR. On the other hand, parts of the job feel familiar because ORR is a very lean, small team. I'm comforted by that part. It's a small but mighty organization, just like Wylder was.

Beyond the immediate crisis, what challenges do you see coming down the road?

This is a little bittersweet, coming from the retailer background, but the industry has changed so much over the last decade. That presents some real challenges. When we started Wylder, "ecommerce only" was still kind of a dirty phrase. Now there's so much talk about ecommerce among brick-and-mortar shop owners who are struggling to adapt to modern sales strategies. In a way, the pandemic has forced the industry to evolve—to meet the demands of modern consumer expectations. But that's bittersweet, right? Because we want those mom-and-pop shops to survive. I think we will be a more informed and strengthened industry on the other side of this crisis, but it's going to be a painful process to get there.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Maybe just a strong sentiment of gratitude. I'm coming into this at a time when so many organizations are cutting employees and furloughing others, having to make difficult decisions about staffing. The demand for advocacy on behalf of the industry has never been greater. I'm incredibly honored to be starting at a time when advocacy expertise is needed in such a strong way.

Related

galen-crout-fItRJ7AHak8-unsplash

New data shows the outdoor industry heading in the right direction

It's hard to believe, but the latest data from the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable showing a 65 percent year-over-year decrease in sales among outdoor businesses actually counts as good news. Of course, it's all about context. ORR, in partnership with the Oregon State University ...read more

91521401_1574919689344626_6171120250545766400_o

Wylder Goods says goodbye and closes shop

In 2016, Jainee Dial and Lindsey Davis opened the online retailer Wylder Goods with $54,000 from Kickstarter and a simple yet compelling mission: to create a unique gear-buying experience for adventurous women who love the outdoors. Now, in the middle of the coronavirus ...read more

Bryce Canyon National Park

Industry Buzz: Tour de France postponed, National Park Week, how to calm your mind, video chat with a llama

Industry headlines: Intriguing reads from around the web Tour de France postponed: The race will now take place in August and September, more than two months after the original dates. The course will remain the same. [ESPN] AMC lays down the law: If you want to summit a ...read more

jordan-mcqueen-ido_zlFUFlc-unsplash

The numbers are in: Outdoor rec is crucial to national and state economies

The numbers are in.  The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) came out with its annual report today dissecting the importance of the outdoor economy across the nation. Officially an analysis of the agency's Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account, which measures "economic activity ...read more

Large storefront of a Dick's Sporting Goods

Dick's Sporting Goods to launch new outdoor stores in 2021

In a call with investors last week, the outgoing CEO of Dick's Sporting Goods, Ed Stack, announced a new initiative for his company, set to begin in the latter half of next year. As early as August 2021, Dick's plans to open two outdoor-only retail concepts, called Public Lands, ...read more

tk. // Photo: caption

Roundtable: How fashion influences outdoor design trends

Trends in street fashion will determine what your buyers will want next year—and beyond. We talk to three outdoor designers and curators to find out how they interpret fashion trends for the outdoor market. Everyone wants to know what the next hot trend will be, because big ...read more

A pair of Asolo boots standing on a mossy rock

A Q&A with the new GM of Asolo USA, Bill Lockwood

If there's one word industry vets use to describe Bruce Franks, 72, the longtime GM of Asolo USA, it's "legend." Time and again over the last quarter century, Franks reinvigorated the U.S. market for the heritage footwear brand in ways that shaped the company's direction, its ...read more

Smiling man in a camoflage cap and sunglasses

Utah has a new director of Office of Outdoor Recreation

After an extensive two-month search to replace Tom Adams, Gov. Herbert announced the new director of Utah’s Office of Outdoor Recreation: Patrick “Pitt” Grew. Grew spent his childhood in the mountains of Utah, skiing every weekend with his parents who both worked in the ski ...read more

San-Diego

When is it time for a retailer to close up shop?

It’s never easy to let go of something you love. When John D. Mead, 63, of San Diego-based retailer Adventure 16, decided to close the last two locations of his business in January after a 58-year run, he said it felt a little like losing a family member. “I've been in this ...read more