If there was one word to sum up the trend of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2007's booth designs, it was SUSTAINABILITY. There is no question that being green is both cool and the right thing to do, and that movement seemed to stimulate the addition of a bevy of new booths at the show. Never before has the SNEWS® crew seen so many companies utilizing green booth materials. While all the new booths were a welcome surprise, it made it more difficult than ever to come up with the latest round of coveted SNEWS® BOB Awards. Overall, we were happy to see an increase in the number of small 10- x 10-foot booths, each showing remarkable innovation, imagination and a refreshing light-heartedness.
We admit that booth judging is a bit subjective. We do not judge booths on how much beer we score -- though, it seems apparent beer is an essential booth fixture. Instead, we look for booths that push the edge of the envelope through the use of interesting materials and design concepts -- hmmm, a booth made of recycled beer bottles from beverages consumed at a previous show might be interesting, but we digress. Booths must work for showing and selling product, be well lit, make the best use of space and include compelling graphics. This show's crop of award-winning booths met that criteria and went beyond with inspiring new booth layouts and the use of creative props, original colors and unusual twists on order-writing rooms.
OK, enough babble…on with the winners (*photos honoring the winners appear at the end of the article and are not visible in the Digest version of this article):
Top BOB – Timberland
Timberland wins the Top BOB award for its commitment to sustainability and its use of recycled and recyclable materials in support of its company philosophy. The booth footprint was reduced as part of its commitment to the responsible use of materials. Ninety-eight percent of the booth materials were recycled or reclaimed. Three shipping containers, painted orange and open on one side were divided in the middle to create two intimate writing rooms. The container tops were cantilevered in the middle so they could be opened up to let in light and to abide by Fire Marshall codes.
The three containers circled a large center "rug" made of Vibram EcoStep tiles (also used in Timberland footwear outsoles). A superstructure of aluminum uprights supported an aluminum ring used to secure lighting, signage or any additions to the booth that may be necessary in the future. Above the ring, hung a circular Timberland sign easily seen from almost anywhere in the hall.
Large banner-type signs on the exterior of the booth described the materials used in the booth's construction. Materials included Valchromat pinewood from pine tree forest scrap stained with organic dyes and used as countertops and Echo Eliminator, a recyclable sound-absorbing material made from recycled cotton and used as a sound buffer in panels hanging above the PR room in the rear of the booth.
No detail of the Timberland booth was over-looked from the non-slip surface on the angled writing tables to the rolling kitchen that could close up when not in use. It was an excellent example of how a booth utilizing reused, renewable and recycled materials could be attractive and highly efficient. Congratulations to Timberland for walking the talk and creating the best booth at the show.
Most Improved BOB – Timbuk2
Timbuk2's new booth was the bomb! What a welcome change for this innovative company. The booth utilized bright colors on each of the three freestanding and angled walls positioned in the booth space at what seemed like random angles but were, in fact, strategically planned to move people through the booth so they came in contact with all the bag categories on display. Reflecting the company's tri-color branding, each of the three walls were a different color. The company used three different colors on the walls. Each bag category had its own space and bags were displayed face out for easy viewing.
The booth was accessible from three sides. Polaroid transfers on plywood graced the walls and an online bag builder set-up against the back wall let people design their own bags on the spot.
A "What's in Your Bag" wall displayed Polaroid shots of the items people were carrying in their Timbuk2 bags at the show. Amazing how similar the items were. These touches and a display of used bags decorated and carried by previous customers made the booth a fun place to visit. Timbuk2 made a giant leap with this new booth and we congratulate the company for its creativity, attention to detail and just plain good vibes.
Fun BOB – Jytte
Hats are hard to show, so when we saw the Jytte booth, we paid attention. Three circular freestanding clotheslines provided hanging space for the Jytte collection of colorful hats. The hats hung at head level so people could imagine themselves wearing them, plus they were easy to remove for trying on. Old, rusty bikes rested against the clothesline poles and flowers were spread throughout and the carpet of Astroturf replicated a friendly backyard providing a perfect foil for the company's whimsical and fun hats. Jytte, our hat's off to you.
Crazy BOB – Scapegoat
Scapegoat is a brand new company from Boulder, Colo. This was its first Outdoor Retailer trade show and the company debuted with a crazy idea and great execution. The booth was constructed of 6-inch corrugated paper bricks, one laid on top of another and glued together with food-grade paste to build the exterior walls of the booth. The booth took 13 hours to build and the effort was definitely worth the time spent. The inside of the booth was a study in simplicity where a central wood bench in the middle of the space was toped with a comfy cushion covered in the same fabric used in the company's outerwear and a perfect spot for viewing the line.
The booth had a boutique feel. Oriental rugs softened the wood floor. A "detail" wall held shadowboxes that previewed finishing materials utilized in the company's apparel. Along one side of the booth, jackets were displayed inside out to show interior construction details. The facing wall held the line's jackets right side out on metal stands.
The strength of the Scapegoat booth was its simplicity, intimate appeal and clever line presentation. The company's tagline is "technically correct, always appropriate." The same could be said for this not-so-crazy booth.
Display BOB – Tsunami
There was a lot of good display at this year's show, but the old battered Willey's Jeep truck in the middle of the Tsunami booth caught our eye. It was filled with an array of old suitcases to convey the company's tagline "See Where It Takes You." The company direction was exemplified by the presence of the truck squeezed in between the writing rooms. Good display is often unexpected and this certainly was.
Mini BOB – Flylow
The Flylow 10- x 10-foot booth looked great and smelled even better. The booth was framed with bark-covered scrap lumber walls that smelled wonderful and made a perfect backdrop for the company's line of jackets and pants. A small storage closet was built in one corner to keep the booth looking neat. Grass cloth and a fur rug covered the floor, and log stools held catalogs and sales materials. Great smells and straightforward thematic design were the hallmarks of this standout winner of our mini BOB.
Almost BOB – SmartWool
SmartWool unveiled a new booth constructed of 65-percent sustainable and recyclable materials. Green elements included the paints used, the 100-percent bamboo plywood, organic cotton canvas, and New Zealand grown wool carpeting. The company changed its green certification from 35 percent to 65 percent based on Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEEDS) certified green-based materials.
Every aspect of the booth was made completely modular by using heavy-duty casters on all the exterior and interior walls. The booth could be configured in many different ways depending on the space available. The writing rooms were placed adjacent to one another allowing the sales staff to share apparel sample sets cutting down on the number of sets required. A wall of "mug" shots of booth visitors adorned one wall.
The very appealing colors of soft blue and green were used throughout the booth and on the tall perimeter walls. White and green Chinese lanterns hung high above the booth calling attention to it in a whimsical way. It was great to see SmartWool step up to sustainability and do it with good design, workability and appeal.
Almost BOB – Thorlo
The 12-foot trees in the Thorlo booth added interest, a nice hit of green and some aroma to the show. The live trees in their burlap bags were positioned throughout the booth and along a path delineated by a contrasting color of carpet. Thorlo socks were housed in the company's point-of-purchase fixtures scattered along the path. The booth had an open and inviting feeling and did a good job of both attracting interest and showing product. And there is no need to worry about the trees getting tossed. The Deodora Cedar trees were donated at the close of the show to Salt Lake City Parks and Open Spaces.
Not a BOB, but worth applause
Every Outdoor Retailer show, the SNEWS® staff evaluates booths selecting those we deem deserving of the BOB awards. And every show we look forward to seeing what the Horny Toad booth offers up. The company always finds a way to enhance and engage with new themes, new props and new energy. We salute Horny Toad for always "Kicking It Up a Notch!"
Thinsulate debuted a new booth at Winter Market that was both educational and informative. The graphics and plasma screens focused outward from the booth were eye-catching. And we liked the scrim ceiling. Nice job!
Universal Trim Supply's floor of tempered lighted glass boxes holding assortments of colorful trims and zippers were eye-catching. Without a doubt, it was the best trade show booth floor we've seen.
Sand and Storm's display of safari-type satchels and duffels enclosed in booth walls of tent canvas was so effective we were ready to hitch a jeep and take off into the bush.
Silver Joe's coffee company, complete with Silver Stream trailer, was a bit hit and it wasn't just because of the coffee. Everything in the booth was silver including the trailer, the coffee cart and the display fixtures. This is a company that's got all it ducks (or should we say beans) in a row.