As you have come to expect and ask of us, the SNEWS® team has been tirelessly weeding through all the press release fluffery and mounds of show announcements to bring you only the events we believe are really worth the time. To that end, mark your calendars for the following events, seminars, clinics and parties we recommend in this SNEWS® Winter Market preview:
Backcountry Basecamp at Brighton Ski Resort on Friday, Jan. 26
*SNEWS® dressing tip -- bundle up, because the temps are downright chilly! However, the good times are extra hot this year, and it appears to us that the Backcountry Basecamp is even better than in past years and well worth the time, and extra layers required, to attend.
>> In between product testing, and to warm up, we recommend the following food and beverage centers. For those with a sweet tooth, stop by the Duofold warming hut (OK, so it's really just a specially heated booth, the company tells us) for s'mores and to try on some of the company's new Varitherm base-layer styles. Company reps tell us dressing rooms will be heated too. What a bonus! If you are getting a bit snackish, then trundle over to Jetboil's headquarters right next to the official Outdoor Retailer Warming Hut for some hot, New England-approved "chow-da." Serving all day, good chowda is a cup of heaven in a bowl.
>> Kahtoola FlightBoot Uphill Challenge kicks off at 12:30 p.m., and will feature Winter Market attendees attempting to race each other uphill while wearing sharp pointy accessories on their feet -- as if oxygen deprivation is not enough, now we add weapons. Not sure, but wasn't it someone's mother who said to not run with sharp objects or something along those lines? The prize? The race winner receives a complete FlightSystem setup including FlightBoot and FlightDeck -- hmmmm, maybe age and guile can….oh never mind.
>> Following the uphill challenge, and after you've finished heaving your guts out and wondering what on earth possessed you, kick back to watch the Outdoor Idols Rail Jam from 1-2 p.m. It's the Outdoor Industry Foundation's attempt to inject a little hip, youthful energy into the on-snow demo and introduce the newest winter class of Outdoor Idols. The dozen or so youth athletes will compete against one another for bragging rights, as well as the coveted "Gnar Gnar" award (we have no idea what a gnar gnar is, but we want one). Competitors will include Outdoor Idols, local athletes, invited pros and select industry professionals. During the 30- to 40-minute Rail Jam, spectators will enjoy stunts performed by the competitors (sliding, spinning and jumping), as well as the sounds of DJ Knucklez. This is one event that we just can't miss.
Events, good causes, free food and most excellent parties
>> There is simply no better way to start the trade show than with hot food and an inspiring and educational presentation like that found at the Industry Breakfast, brought to you by the Outdoor Industry Association and SmartWool. The Saturday, Jan. 27, breakfast begins at 7 a.m. (yeah, we know it's damn early, but the coffee is good) at the Downtown Marriott. The featured speaker is Jill Bamburg, dean of the sustainable MBA program at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute. Bamburg is the author of "Getting to Scale: Growing Your Business without Selling Out" and will speak about environmental sustainability and corporate responsibility in business. The Industry Awards will also be presented at the OIA Industry Breakfast. The awards honor outstanding leaders from the outdoor industry, selected by the outdoor industry. Space is limited; please RSVP by emailing email@example.com.
A Fit Mind is a Sharp Mind
>> Whether you want to wake up running or walking, OR AM has something for you each morning of the show, beginning at 6:30 a.m.
First, consider that if two legs are good for exercise, think what four "legs" can do? LEKI USA is once again conducting its popular early morning wake-up Nordic walking clinics from 6:30-8 a.m. on Jan. 27-29, starting at the South Plaza Corner of the Salt Palace Convention Center. No prior experience is necessary; if you can walk, you can Nordic walk. Just bring walking or running shoes and be sure to dress for the weather. LEKI will loan Nordic walking poles free of charge and LEKI Trained Instructors will be available to guide Nordic walks with different levels of intensity and time -- from 10 minutes for a "taste" to 30 minutes for a heart-pounding workout that will kick-start your day. Participants will receive free coffee and hot chocolate, and a free copy of "Nordic Walking, A Total Body Experience" by Tim "T-Bone" Arem, M. Ed. Earlier in the week, T-Bone will make an appearance at the Wasatch Elementary School as part of his initiative to teach Nordic walking to 20 schools in 20 states.
For those who want to lace up running shoes and feel the wind in your hair (and a damn cold wind it is going to be), New Balance will be hosting a run all four days departing at 7 a.m. from the South Plaza at the Salt Palace. Two experienced guides will lead two runs (approximately five miles) with one for a fast and the other for a slower group. New Balance tells us the company will have the new 873, the update to the 872 (the Runner's World Editors' Choice pick) in sizes for test runs. They'll also have a giveaway for participants as a thank you for joining them on a morning jaunt. SNEWS® will be there…brrrrrrr…will you?
>> Fox River will help you save your sore feet! Free rejuvenating foot massages and sock exchange for retailers and media at Fox River booth 20019 from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 27, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28, and Monday, Jan. 29.
>> After 10 years and 30 show receptions, Peregrine Outfitters is moving up to a bigger and better retailer reception this winter. Now that so many other vendors are jumping on the booth reception bandwagon, the Peregrine folks wanted SNEWS® to let our readers know the company is steppin' out. On Sunday, Jan. 28, at 6 p.m., retailers (and media too, as if you thought they would not include you) are invited to Lumpy's Downtown for beer, wine, hors d'oeuvres, cool climbing DVDs and, Peregrine flacks tell us, greaaaat raffle prizes. For those SLC neophytes who do not know Lumpy's, we can say with some certainty that it is a bar with class. It may be coach class, but hey, it's still class. Lumpy's is one-half block south of the Salt Palace Convention Center, which means most trade show over-indulgers will be able to stagger back to their hotels with raffle prizes in hand! For those of you stuck on 10 years of tradition, you can still hoist a cold one in Peregrine's booth on Saturday night.
>> On Sunday, Jan. 28, from 4-6 p.m. -- or until the tequila runs out -- you are invited to join GoLite, OIA, Outdoor Retailer and NativeEnergy for a "Lite My Fire!" hot party to help the industry cool the planet. Take the Carbon Neutral Travel Challenge: offset your travel to and from Winter Market and wear your Carbon Neutral Traveler sticker to the party (SNEWS® offset the travel of its entire team to Winter Market, and we encourage all industry members to do the same). GoLite will be giving away 500 environmentally-friendly CoCoNa performance tops or pairs of GoLite trail running shoes to the first 500 Carbon Neutral Travelers! The tequila will be flowing and the music hot, but Kim Couponous of GoLite tells SNEWS® that the "we-dare-you" edibles will be even hotter. Check it out at GoLite booth 23001 and GoLite Footwear booth 24011.
>> Jetboil is your host to a '70s-themed Après Ski Party on Monday, Jan. 29, from 3-4 p.m., featuring hot drinks that you'd find around the fire at the lodge back in the day (we can only assume the company will not be attempting to light its booth on fire). We're apparently talking Hot Buttered Rum, Hot Spiced Cider and Hot Chocolate with a KICK. The party will also offer fondue made on a Jetboil GCS, and the sweet songs of John Denver and Gordon Lightfoot. Jetboil booth 9044 -- oh, and wear your Moon Boots and love beads if you have 'em.
Unifi, Consoltex and Polartec "Green" fibers and fabric are celebrating the collaboration on developing "green" fabrics featuring 100-percent recycled Repreve yarns by serving green beer (we know, it sounds so wrong it has to be right). On Saturday, Jan. 27, and Sunday, Jan. 28, from 3-6 p.m., green beer will be served at three locations: Unifi booth 62021, Malden booth 36077, and Patagonia booth 8026. And, on Monday, Jan. 29, for those still needing a green brew, your desires can be quenched either at Unifi booth 62021 or Consoltex booth 39191.
Just Plain Fun
>> In celebration of its new urban Lifestyle collection, Julbo will be hosting a chic White Party at the company booth (4045) on Sunday, Jan. 28, at 4:30 p.m. We're talking good appetizers and beer and a chance to win one of 40 pairs of sunglasses. The capper for the SNEWS® team though is an invite to come early to be outfitted in a feather boa! Wow…feather boas, white sunglasses and free beer. Pure genius.
>> New Balance is offering a screening of short films that are featured at the Banff Film Festival on Sunday, Jan. 28, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Regency Theaters. Stop by the New Balance booth during the show to pick up a free ticket, seating is limited so be sure to get to the theater early. First 20 people through the door will receive a gift certificate for a free pair of New Balance shoes.
>> Fashion shows are a hoot and SmartWool's show, to highlight its new line, at the company's new booth, located at 32091 on Saturday, Jan. 27, looks to be a kick. The company promises nicely chilled brews, and it will also be selling special edition hats to benefit the Outdoor Industry Foundation.
One Affair You Will Want to Know About
Thanks to OIA's Policy and a Pint meetings at OIA booth 5600 from 3-4 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 27-28, you can find out about government affairs that can and do affect your business, and ways you can work with OIA and on your own behalf to ensure issues get resolved. Trade, land management and outdoor recreation policy are just some of the topics that will be addressed at Policy and a Pint. The format will be informal, allowing you to ask questions and engage in dialogue on the issues that affect you and your business.
Donations and Charity Benefits are Good for the Soul
>> At high noon on Sunday, Jan. 28, Jetboil unveils the first-ever Big Wall Climbing Cook-Off. This unique culinary competition will have contestants cooking off-the-deck in a Metolius Portaledge, using Jetboil GCS, Jetboil accessories and utensils, and Jetboil's brand-new Hanging Kit. Watch as Conrad Anker, Jim Bridwell, Evo and Pete Takeda battle it out for first place and a $500 donation to an environmental organization of the winner's choice. Recipe cards complete with each climber's recipe and photo, along with tins of kipper snacks are free to the first 100 people there. Climbing wall, noon -- be there. Kipper snacks…mmmmmmmm.
>> Ed Viesturs is going to be one busy man, and we trust he's been limbering up his signing hand. On Saturday, Jan. 27, from noon to 1 p.m., Timberland will be hosting a book signing of Viesturs' new book, "No Shortcuts to the Top," at its booth with 100 percent of the $20 per signed book charge going to benefit Big City Mountaineers -- booth 34128. Then, on Sunday, Jan. 28, from 4:30-6 p.m., Viesturs will be at Mountain Hardwear, signing the same book, for the same $20 charge, with all proceeds going to benefit The Central Asia Institute, one of Mountain Hardwear's Gives Back recipients. Booth 26001.
>> Camelbak is selling water bottles with proceeds going to Big City Mountaineers. Each water bottle holds a raffle ticket for a chance to win the new Camelbak Skull Candy Hellion pack and other prizes. Drawings are daily at BCM booth 60064.
>> At Osprey Packs, booth 17027, on Saturday, Jan. 27, at 4:30 p.m., you can trade in your old and tired daypack or pack for a new Osprey ReSource Series pack during the Recycled Party for the Mountain Fund, hosted by Osprey athlete Alison Gannett.
>> Gregory Packs will host a fund-raiser for Outdoor Outreach, a non-profit group that offers opportunities for at-risk and underprivileged youth to gain confidence and self-esteem through outdoor activities, on Sunday, Jan. 28. The raffle begins at 4 p.m. For a donation of $5 or more to Outdoor Outreach (to be made at the Outdoor Outreach or Gregory booth at the show), Winter Market attendees will be entered into a raffle for one of three Gregory packs, either Z 55s or Jade 50s, the women's-specific version of the Z 55. During the raffle, Gregory staff will be serving complimentary liquid refreshment in souvenir Gregory/Outdoor Outreach pint glasses.
>> Now this is one after-hours party we love!!!! Native Eyewear plans to generate thousands of dollars for the Outdoor Industry Foundation (OIF) at its first-ever Reverse Door Prize Party. "We've been throwing a party at the OR Winter and Summer shows for several years now and we have typically given away very nice door prizes. This year, for every ticket stub we collect at the door, we will make a $10 donation to the Outdoor Industry Foundation," George Schott of Team Native told SNEWS®. "Now, our guests can eat, drink and be merry, and do something great for the industry at the same time -- we're calling it a 'reverse door prize.' " For more information and tickets to the event, go to the Native Eyewear booth.
>> Block party for The Conservation Alliance, held simultaneously at the Keen, Salomon, Hi-Tec, Eagle Creek and Hot Chilly's booths with the sounds of DJ Knucklz. Make a $35 donation to The Conservation Alliance and get a pair of Keen shoes as a thank you. Be there -- Sunday, Jan. 28, at 5 p.m.
>> Step up and help a good cause with ExOfficio. The apparel maker will be exchanging its highly popular "Irresistible" scarves daily for a $10 donation to the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity in support of its tremendous Musicians' Village Project. If you stop by ExOfficio booth 12035 at 4 p.m. daily, you'll also get a nice and warm hot toddy.
Go Learn Yerself Sumthin
>> Of all the seminars and talks, if you go to one, we'd recommend listening to Chris Harges. He's written for GearTrends® and we've heard him speak and he's worth the price of admission -- your time. His topic, "Information or Intimidation: Are You Welcoming Customers or Driving Them Back Indoors," is key to our industry's future growth, and will be presented on Saturday, Jan. 27, beginning at noon in the Downtown Marriott, Salon D. Harges tells us, "New customers are walking into outdoor stores every day. Unfortunately, many will never make a second visit. For every four Americans who take part in outdoor sports, only one is a frequent participant. To convert entry-level participants into outdoor enthusiasts, manufacturers and retailers need to take a hard look at how they communicate with their customers. This seminar will frame the problem of communicating with entry- and intermediate-level outdoor consumers in a market dominated by confusing technologies, insider jargon and extreme images. We’ll look at the mindset of the entry-level consumer, cover marketing mistakes from confusing product instructions to off-putting ad campaigns, and provide real-world strategies for educating, including and encouraging the consumer segment with the largest growth-potential in the industry."
>> Part of Outdoor Industry Association's seminar series, "Retail Operational Analysis - Realizing Growth and Profitability, Part 2" will use OIA's newly published Specialty Retailer Operational Ratio Report as a benchmark to explore best practices for specialty retail businesses. In the second session of this seminar series, Jay Townley, partner in The Gluskin Townley Group, will discuss sales growth, operating margins, cash flow, turns and inventory, and how these important areas can be managed for success. The session will be on Sunday, Jan. 28, at noon in the Downtown Marriott, Salon B. The OIA Retailer Seminars, including this session, are sponsored by SmartWool.