SNEWS Qs, Retailer Edition: Sarah Merrell, Diamond Brand Outdoors

Periodically SNEWS chats with specialty retailers to ask about their business and which products are flying off their shelves. This SNEWS Qs features Sarah Merrell of Diamond Brand Outdoors in North Carolina.

Sarah Merrell

Diamond Brand Outdoor

Arden, N.C., 828-684-6262

What are some of the most popular items in your store?

Osprey packs have been a hot seller for us; we are actually one of only six retailers that have an Osprey Pro Shop. 

ENO hammocks are not only popular, but ENO also happens to be a local company right down the road from us. Chaco sandals are always a hot spring item, and this season we’re offering some fun colors. The Liquid Logic Versa Board is popular for paddling since it can be used as a sit-on-top kayak, or as a stand up paddle board and it’s very stable. As far as clothing, Patagonia Baggies Shorts are a hot item and we also have some fun prints and colors in those this season, plus these shorts can be worn for so many different outdoor activities.

Of all the new technology coming out these days, what is your favorite and why?

We like the SteriPEN ultaviolet light technology, which makes water safe to drink and uses the same technology as leading bottled water manufacturers. We recommend the SteriPEN Traveler because it’s affordable and can fit into water bottles. We also like Mountain Hardwear rain shells with Dry.Q technology because it creates a rain shell that’s lightweight, super-breathable and waterproof, but still durable.

What makes your shop different from all the other specialty outdoor retailers?

Diamond Brand is unique because we have a long history in serving the needs of outdoor enthusiasts in the western North Carolina area. We’re excited that this year will mark our 48th anniversary. This history, coupled with our staff's knowledge and expertise about the local outdoor area, have led us to being voted Best Outdoor Gear Shop in western North Carolina for eight years in a row. This knowledge and expertise also helps us to serve and meet our customers’ needs. In fact, this year we’ve begun to share our expertise and knowledge by filming news segments on a variety of outdoor topics for our local ABC affiliate, WLOS, and we’re also kicking off our very own outdoor radio show, WNC Outdoors on WHKP, in addition to contributing articles to local publications.

What’s your philosophy on customer service?

We don’t believe in the Golden Rule of Customer Service, we believe in the Platinum Rule of Customer Service. Instead of treating customers the way you would want to be treated, go a step beyond that and treat them the way that they want to be treated. Experiences that people have in the outdoors are very special, and that experience starts with them coming to our store and choosing the gear or finding the guidance they need. We seek to give them the best experience in-store that they can possibly have in order to ensure they have the right gear to make their outdoor adventures memorable.

What do you think makes customers loyal to stores?

Our customers are loyal because of the level of customer service we offer and because we have staff that pick the right products to fit our customers’ needs. We go above and beyond just pointing someone to the product they’re requesting, and instead work one on one with them to find the product that’s the best fit as well as offering services like professional footwear fitting, pack fitting, and even helping them map out or plan a trip. We also keep our customers engaged by offering a variety of events through out the year that are both entertaining and educational. 

--Compiled by Ana Trujillo