The Retailers of the Outdoor Industry (ROI) Early Buying Show moved to the east coast this year, with retailers and manufacturers meeting outside Blacksburg, Virg., June 11- 14. For David Matz, president of ROI, bringing together 27 retailers and 25 vendors was the culmination of a yearlong effort.
"Seeing this caliber of retailers and vendors together for a second year really makes me trust that this is rewarding for all participants," said Matz.
In large part because of the success of last year's show -- click here to read our coverage -- larger manufacturers attended the ROI event this year. Some even rolled out the full presentation with multiple categories and that led to scheduling challenges.
Retailers told us that, unfortunately, this year presentations tended to be a little rushed, and there wasn't time to write orders during a presentation.
Matz assured SNEWS® meeting times and appointment scheduling will be refined for next year's Early Buying Show slated for Snowbird, Utah.
"Despite the tighter scheduling though, when everyone is eating, meeting, sleeping and playing in the same location, more in-depth discussions between retailers and manufacturers often happen over a drink or during dinner," Matz said.
"It is definitely more than a buying show. The retailers had great comments and input. They can make a difference, and this event is the venue for that," said Mike Wallenfels of Mountain Hardwear
Matz also told SNEWS® that while the general feeling at the show was cautiously optimistic regarding the state of the market, this is a difficult economic time, which forces retailers to watch their inventory levels more closely than ever.
"I overheard conversations between retailers and manufacturers that indicate to me the passion for outdoor retail among our members will no doubt sustain spirits during this dip in the market, " said Matz.
"We spent all year preparing for this show," he said, "and even with some glitches in meal service at lunch and the somewhat cramped meeting space, the atmosphere of this show was invigorating."
SNEWS® View: As SNEWS® experienced during our coverage of ROI's first event, creating an opportunity for retailers and manufacturers to relax, spend time together, exchange views and past experiences with each other, and really have a great time together too is energizing for everyone. Retailers get quality time with manufacturers as well as with some of the management team from that company, and that's all good. Manufacturers get to spend time with retail buyers and owners of leading retail businesses, and that's all good. Real open and honest discussions and brainstorming occur naturally, and that's fantastic. And all of this occurs while conducting the business of reviewing and buying product. What shows like ROI's offer, you simply can't get from a large trade show environment like OR or SIA. And that's what makes these kinds of events essential to the health of our industry. Oh, and there's one more essential element we've not mentioned: The idea of having fun while working is one of the concepts that is dear to both ROI and the outdoor industry, and Matz has told us he enjoys reminding retailers and manufacturers of that notion. Having fun while working? Music to our ears!