The plethora of new booths at the show had the SNEWS® team breathless as we ran around the show searching for this summer’s BOB (Best of Booth) award winners. Never before have the decisions been so hard to make. The efforts exerted by companies to update, revamp, change and think about out-of-the-box booth designs were impressive. The addition of square footage to the Salt Palace gave companies the opportunity to increase their exhibit space and try some new things – which many did.
The SNEWS® BOB Awards honor those booths that combine innovation, workability, presentation, creativity, visibility and company image in one complete package. Because there was so much good stuff to review, we’ve added a list of best booth ideas to our BOB Awards.
TOP BOB – Prana
One look at the Prana booth and it was easy to see why the company ran away with top honors. The knotted hemp rope walls surrounding the 2,400 sq. ft. booth provided a semi-permeable glimpse into the booth while providing a sense of calm and quiet inside. Prana went so far as to block out the sodium vapor lighting hanging above the booth to soften interior light.
The booth entrance sidewall was actually a 40-foot shipping container split in half. It served as a background for a display platform and as a perch for the company’s cause partners to present their programs.
Prana’s line was organized into five stations by category, and retailers moved as groups from one station to the next for line presentations. Prana was able to accommodate 300 people at one time with this arrangement and, at the same time, provide them with invigorating breaks in between presentations.
The Gensler-designed booth had to do three things according to Rick Bolton, Prana director of development. It had to be accessible, create a visual oasis and bring the Prana collections idea to life. “Everything starts with function,” says Bolton. “It’s exciting to see people take a risk with aesthetics.” Thanks to Prana for its innovation in both booth design and line presentation.
IMPROVED BOB – Life Is Good
It took three old Wisconsin barns to complete the new Life Is Good 1,500 sq. ft. booth. The company, working with Urban Evolutions, used the barn elements to create a two-tiered booth to create a retail store environment downstairs and writing rooms upstairs on the 800 sq. ft. mezzanine. All the fixturing was built and set up by Utopia Designs, the same company that provides the fixturing for Life Is Good’s concept shops.
The booth was built from the assembled barn wood in an airplane hanger. It was then taken apart and shipped to the Salt Palace in a semi truck that actually drove into the convention center hall and unloaded at the booth site. It took five days to set up the booth. What a change from the two 20 x 20 booths the company used at the 2006 Winter Market earlier in the year. Life must be very good!
FUN BOB – SmartWool
It’s easy being green for SmartWool. It’s amazing what a fresh coat of green paint can do to reinvigorate an existing booth. Smart move! We loved the clothesline of socks hanging above and around the perimeter of the booth, and the SmartWool socks on feet protruding from the wall. The booth combined bits of whimsy, cool color, the message “We’ve got socks,” and a visual delight. Nice going.
DISPLAY BOB – Vasque
Vasque’s new booth with its curving entrance walls takes the Display BOB prize. Footwear was arranged on descending and ascending circular shelving in front of lighted translucent walls at the booth entrance and in the interior writing rooms. We liked the combination of a unique display arrangement with soft back lighting. It’s nice to see Vasque, a venerable industry company, updating its image in a fresh, sophisticated way.
MINI BOB – Tarma
Tarma is a small town at the foot of the Andes. It is also the name of the 10 x 10 booth Mini BOB winner. Tarma, incidentally, is a new exhibitor at Outdoor Retailer. It takes a lot of creativity and thought to merchandise a small booth and grab attention of show goers. It helps if the products shown are small.
Tarma showed its jewelry products in simple displays. Back walls were constructed of bamboo and held frosted Lucite squares over which necklaces were hung. Two pedestals stood front and center with examples of Tarma’s collection of recycled stainless steel bracelets, earrings and pendants (from old refrigerators and elevator doors). The lighting was good and, not surprisingly, the booth was mobbed most of the time. Welcome to OR, Tarma, and thanks for bringing originality and grace to booth design.
CRAZY BOB – Crumpler
You can count on Crumpler to come up with something crazy. The company outdid itself this show. The entire booth was made of recycled cardboard formed into 150 cardboard boxes each with 12-15 folds – origami style. The boxes were stacked around the perimeter of the booth to resemble a pet shop complete with a sprinkling of wire walls in some of the boxes, and breathing holes in others. Crumpler products were featured in the boxes at random, and you could view them from both inside and outside the booth.
Crumpler managed to include a private writing room and storage area behind one of the “box” walls in the 20 x 20 space. The booth was conceptualized by architects from London and was very inexpensive to construct. Now for the best part – the booth was dismantled at show end and the cardboard recycled in Salt Lake City. How green can you get?
There were so many booths with good ideas that we decided to recognize some of the best. Here's our list:
Best Storage Solution – Outside Baby
There’s not a lot of room in a 10 x 20 booth, but Outside Baby solved the storage problem by utilizing a small greenhouse to complement the booth’s gardening theme with its green grass carpet, gardening bench, flowers and cool baby “going outside” equipment.
Best Image Communication – GoLite
GoLite’s new booth had additional writing rooms, rich wood details, unique fixturing and oriental rugs. But the best part was the overhead canopy that represented the stylized peaks of the company’s beloved Flatirons, the majestic mountains that overlook GoLite's home base in Boulder, Colorado.
Best Graphics – Confluence
Graphics were everywhere at this show. Since they’ve come down in price, enlarging images has become a favorite display element. Confluence surrounded its booth with full color action photos overlapping and arranged at various angles. Very effective, very eye catching, very nice work.
Best Entertainment – Remo
The drum circle at Remo caught attention all day long. Who can resist the sound of drums? For sheer entertainment value, Remo was the best.
Best Gift Idea – Java Kit by Jetboil
Want to know what to get that java head on your holiday list? How about the Java Kit? It comes complete with the brewing and drinking cup, the stove, fuel and a bag of coffee.
Best Story – Mountain Hardwear “Remembering Sue & Karen”
Sue Knott and Karen McNeill, Mountain Hardwear-sponsored athletes, were lost while climbing 17,400-foot Mt. Foraker in Alaska. Mountain Hardwear featured their story on the outside of their booth in a warm and deserving tribute.
Best Overhead Signage – Sierra Designs
Colorful sleeping bags hanging over the SD booth spelled out the Sierra Designs company name. It was a clever way to draw attention to one of the company’s premier products, while providing a unique overhead locator sign.
Best Backpack Display Fixture – Kelty
People have to handle packs to really see how they function, but pack fixtures often limit accessibility. However, Kelty's new wall display made it easy to remove packs and replace them. The display consisted of a simple slot system with a wood hanger that fit between the pack straps and fastened the pack to the wall. This is a fixture idea that could be incorporated in retail stores, and you might want to ask Kelty to share their idea.
Best Pink booth – Skirt Sports
The “P” word (pink) used to be verboten. Not anymore as pink is a staple color in most lines. Never before at this show, however, have we seen an all pink booth like that from Skirt Sports. There’s no doubt that pink is back as a statement that’s it’s great to be a girl!
Photos of SNEWS® BOB Award Winners for Summer Market 2006: