Outdoor industry salespeople: You are the people who keep your stores merchandised well. You take the time to fold, refold and fold again. You are the kings and queens of product features, technical attributes and colorways. It is you who has to stifle that laugh when a customer charges into your store claiming the whistle on his girlfriend's belt buckle is faulty, demanding you test it while she's wearing it. Yes, it is you who must manage a smile when faced with the dissatisfied, the challenged and the otherwise high-maintenance customer. The customer is always right…even when they are wrong. Sometimes so very wrong.
Because you are the gatekeepers of the industry and because you make a living out of surviving on the front lines of retail, SNEWS® and the outdoor industry wish to salute you by collecting your survivor stories and rewarding you for the effort with more booty than a pirate could dream up.
In your honor, we bring you, "Survivor -- Outdoor Retail SNEWS® Writing Contest 2006."
The 411: We want to publish in SNEWS® your stories of survival and perseverance in the face of challenging customers. We'll try to publish every story you send us, but only 10 winners will stagger home with an unimaginable quantity of valuable product prizes. Of those 10, one will be named the grand prizewinner, cashing in on a trip for two to Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2007 in addition to a wheelbarrow full of schwag. Three others will be named official "honorable mentions" and, in addition to the valuable prizes, each will receive a gift certificate that can be redeemed toward attendance at an Outdoor Industry Association-sponsored event such as Outdoor University, Mountain Sports Festival or the OIA Rendezvous.
What to do: You will submit, by email, your first-person stories ranging from 250 to 500 words via our contest entry form page at www.snewsnet.com/contest. Deadline for contest submission is July 1, 2006. Yes, there are rules, entry guidelines -- our legal team is a real stickler for detail. The most important rule is you must be a SNEWS® subscriber to enter, but no fear -- as a valued retail staff person, you get your subscription for FREE. Not yet a subscriber, but want to enter -- who could blame you with all those incredible prizes at stake? Simply click here and your SNEWS® activation is less than 24-hours away. Then, you can post your story and be on your way to fame and fortune -- well, maybe not fortune, or even fame, but heck, it'll be fun to see your name in print and even more fun if you're one of the 10 finalists to be sure.
Prizes: Product prizes awarded to the top 10 finalists include: A breathable / waterproof jacket from eVent, footwear from Timberland, merino wool socks and base layers from SmartWool, gloves from Manzella, travel clothing and sportswear from ExOfficio, technical fleece apparel from Polartec, fabric and shoe care products from Nikwax, sport rack products from Yakima, and more. The Grand Prize is a trip for two to Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2007, all expenses paid, and a few days of winter adventure in the Wasatch Mountains to boot. One grand prize will be awarded among the 10 finalists.
Special Prizes: SNEWS® will provide $500 to the retail store location, selected from the top 10 finalists, with the most contest entries to go toward a staff party in celebration of the creativity and camaraderie needed to survive and prosper at retail. A store must have a minimum number of three story entries to be considered. And, for you large chains just rubbing your hands in anticipation of party booty, we define a "store location" in this case by a street address. So game on. Single store operation or multi-store megalopolis -- you're all equal in the eyes of the SNEWS® contest.
Contest Sponsors: Sponsors for the first "Survivor -- Outdoor Retail SNEWS® Writing Contest" for retail staff include Timberland, SmartWool, eVent Fabrics, ExOfficio, Manzella, Nikwax, Polartec, Yakima, Outdoor Retailer and Outdoor Industry Association.
Judges: We're a motley crew, but what did you expect? One judge from each of the sponsors, plus several SNEWS® judges from our editorial staff, and a celebrity guest judge -- Jon Dorn, executive editor of Backpacker magazine -- will make up the panel. Judges' votes will determine the top 10 from the story entries, and will judge entries for: humor, writing quality, courage in the face of the bizarre, creative solutions to challenging customer requests, etc. No, we don't accept bribes.
Why are we doing this?
So many of us working in the outdoor industry have worked retail at one time or another, and each has war stories to share. We just were never offered tons of swag and a free trip to the trade show for ours.
The truth is, we want you to realize that your job is the building block for a career in our industry. The outdoor industry is the only one that gives you an excuse to get paid for testing product for the rest of your professional life, if you choose. The vast majority of the executives, inventors and creatively employed outdoor industry folk got their start working retail for an outdoor store at some point.
What kind of story are we looking for?
Stories that are interesting, humorous, highlight the challenges of working retail, show the lighter side of working retail, and perhaps offer up creative solutions in the face of adversity are all fair game. Click here to read stories that have recently been published to garner ideas.
Bottom line, you've got a chance to win over $1,000 worth of gear and goodies, plus the opportunity for a free trip and some awesome winter recreation in Utah just for telling a tale. But there's no winning if you don't enter. So, what are you waiting for! You know you have the story that's going to win it all. Enter it now at www.snewsnet.com/contest.