This year's Outdoor Retailer Winter Market offered the SNEWS® gang the opportunity to once again seek out and find the best exhibits at the show and honor them with the prestigious Best of Booths (BOB) Awards. Exhibitors never fail to come up with innovative and highly functional booths, making our job that much easier.
We look for creativity, efficient use of space, theme, humor, product presentation, display, eye-catching appeal, workability, design and the elusive cool factor. We like booths that reflect company values and ones with a clear brand message. This year, we added a new BOB category, Eco BOB, in response to the many advances in the use of sustainable materials we found in booths around the show.
Here are our picks for the 2008 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market BOB Awards. Congratulations to the winners!
TOP BOB – Crumpler
Designer Joel Adams found inspiration for the Crumpler booth in an old book of etchings and a child's dinosaur model kit. The walls of this award-winning booth were adorned with a collage of etchings printed on melamine and attached to medium-density fiberboard laser cut at the top to form an irregular skyline. The booth went together much like the wood pieces in a kid's dinosaur model kit.
The flooring was recycled rubber screen printed with a design that was echoed in the booth staff's T-shirts. The booth's overhead identification banner consisted of ocean-going fishing rods suspending die-cut mobiles that reflected elements from the wall collages. The resulting booth was a delight for the eyes and far and away the Top BOB.
ECO BOB – Gramicci
Although Gramicci's booth was full of trash, it was the runaway winner of the newly created Eco BOB category. Artist and booth designer Mike Russet combed the dumpsters of Los Angeles' garment district for plastic, fabric scraps and cardboard to create the acrylic entry walls. Each was carefully layered to resemble the sedimentary layers of the earth.
Writing tabletops were constructed of Kieri board, made of recycled agricultural products including sorghum, which rested on wooden sawhorses. The booth flooring was reclaimed particleboard, while the interior walls were works in progress. During the show, artist John Raux decorated the walls by creating "live" art from trash, used items and recycled materials found during the show, as well as photos taken in Gramicci's "flying squirrel" photo booth.
Everywhere you looked in the Gramicci booth, there were materials that were recycled, sustainable, reusable and renewable. While there were other booths going green, no one accomplished a "green" booth quite like Gramicci's. Congratulations on winning Eco BOB and we look forward to seeing where you take this next show.
MOST IMPROVED BOB – Sherpa Adventure Wear
Sherpa Adventure Wear enlarged its booth to a 30-x-30 space and created a quiet oasis in the midst of a busy show. Three sides of the booth sported prayer wheels -- each of which, by turning clockwise, would distribute 100,000 prayers. (Needless to say, we were by each day for our dose of prayers to keep us going.)
Prayer flags hovered over the booth, and a center seating area of rugs and low benches was a replica of what one would find in a Sherpa home. This booth was much improved, enhanced and presented the brand more effectively, hence, its Most Improved BOB award.
DISPLAY BOB – Horny Toad
In danger of becoming a broken record, we congratulate Horny Toad for, once again, doing the best job of merchandise presentation at the show. Many times a BOB winner, this year Horny Toad was no exception. Vignettes of products with interesting props captured attention.
An across-the-aisle booth was complete with a front porch and still another clever display of product and props. The artistry of the booth is in its ability to create compelling product displays using interesting props that don't dominate the presentation.
FUN BOB – Hot Chillys
After a long day at the show, the Hot Chillys cantina was a welcome respite with its grass-covered palapas (umbrellas). The company did a great job of replicating a south of the border cantina, while making sure it included efficient writing areas, a ramp for modeling and a second story room for private meetings. Corrugated metal walls, barstools and Cervaza coolers completed the theme.
MINI BOB – Totem Industries
Making a small 10-x-10 booth inviting and workable is not easy. Every element of the booth must work to build the brand, show and sell product, and attract attention. Totem Industries pulled it off.
Eat your hearts out, big booth exhibitors -- Totem's booth was carried into the Salt Palace Convention Center by the booth's owners and set up in about three hours. Pallets covered the walls to make display space and created the reception counter. Parts of the pallets served as shelving and all elements were recaptured from a company in Boulder, Colo., that deconstructs buildings. A large banner detailing the provenance of all the materials used in the booth occupied a back corner and a wood "totem" soared above the booth.
And then there was….
Kuru's corrugated tables and recycled rubber flooring…Blundstone's and Rogue's Airstream trailers… The Toyota Tundra promoting Tread Lightly (Anyone see a discrepancy here?)… Pendant lights in the Hi-Tec booth… K2's outhouse for private meetings… Solstice's deer heads made from wood sticks, log cabin outer walls and stacked video screens…W.L. Gore & Associates' "snow"… Lake Girl's displays… Shred Alert's metal walls and magnet hangers for hats.