Manager, Alabama Outdoors
What are the most popular items in your store?
Chaco sandals are doing very well for us. Our hot, humid climate ensures that Chaco moves year-round, but the summer break and bright new spring colors are a hit. ENO hammocks are also popular right now. The minimalist movement has carried over to shelters. We also hang brightly colored hammocks outside for an attractive display and interactive traffic boost.
Out of all the new technologies coming out from manufacturers, what is your favorite and why?
I'm really stoked to see the advances in LED technology from both flashlight and headlamp manufacturers. A lot goes into regulating the power and really optimizing the beam, and we've seen that with the Black Diamond Storm and are looking forward to seeing it with the Petzl NAO soon. Ultimately it means a more useful piece of gear for the customer at a more favorable price point, or some really exciting possibilities for the more advanced consumer.
What summer gear do you think needs the most innovation and why?
Consumables. Think insect repellant and SPF rated sun protection that isn't cost-prohibitive, messy, slimy, smelly, environmentally questionable or short-lasting. Giant black garbage bags don't count. I'd like to be able to breathe.
Which items are popular this summer that weren’t last summer?
Mobile electronic accessories and cases have really taken off. Otterbox and Pelican are returning heavy-hitters with increased volume. New on shelves, LifeProof waterproof iPhone cases have been very strong. As technology continues to allow us to document and share our trips right from the trail, the protection for that technology will continue to advance. This is an area that we expect to grow for Fall-Winter '12 and Spring-Summer '13 as well.
What is your favorite thing about working in the outdoor industry?
This industry is nothing without great people. The best part of working in the outdoor industry is no different. From customers, coworkers, reps and manufacturers that share your passion, there is no shortage of incredible personalities and stories.
--Compiled by Ana Trujillo