Leave it to the SNEWSÂ® gang to get inside the trade show like no other publication can or would. Our all-access passes and vast industry experience allows us into conversations and observations few others can match -- not that many would even want to. So, with that in mind, here is our take of the best and worst of Summer Market -- meant to tickle the funny bone a bit. And we could all use the chuckles right now.
Best excuse for being late to an appointment
"The drum circle needed me." -- Paige Boucher of Mountain Hardwear, caught up in the beat of the Remo Drum Circle.
AT Paddles. Seeing gainfully employed paddlesport professionals is one thing, but seeing them wearing suits was so scary several of our floor spies couldn't even remember the name of the booth. Early in the show, word filtered back to our staff that there was a booth full of men in dark suits, posing as paddlers that we needed to check out.
Best media swag
Mountainsmith and Mountain Hardwear tied for best swag handed out to media. Mountainsmith gave out an insulated bag, and Mountain Hardwear handed out great computer bags (disguised as press kits). Naturally, we do assume that this swag was meant for us simply because we outran the pursuit of various sales reps after line presentations. Who knew that media were in better shape than reps?
Best swag for advertising a product
Those monster Frisbees. But if we hear one more person say they got it for their little kids we're going to laugh at them. Throw that Frisbee at anyone less than 140 pounds and you can be arrested for assault with a deadly weapon. A little kid trying to catch that monster will end up in the next county.
Best swag we actually used
Bison's pen with a carabiner attached. Neat and it worked.
Best swag that had nothing to do with a product the company was selling
Horny Toad beach balls. When the company laid out the selection of uninflated beach balls on the booth's greeting table, the free-stuff grabbing swarm was immediate, thick and energetic. Coffee mugs and beer glasses? Puleeeze. Been there, don't do that again. Fun and silly is where it's at.
Worst hotel room
Sheraton Room 159. If we had ordered a pool in the room OK, but we didn't. If you think it's funny, try getting up in the middle of the night to find more aspirin and stepping on a mildewed carpet saturated with cold water. That wakes you up in a bad mood.
Best hotel parking deal
Valet parking at the Sheraton. Self-parking is $6 a night. Valet parking is $6 per night. Gee, we're so confused. Let's see -- I think we'll take valet parking for $6 behind door No. 1 please.
Dumbest hotel patrons
Those we saw choosing between self parking at $6 per night and valet parking at $6 per night and opting for self parking to save money.
Best show Internet deal
Not sure anyone knew about it other than a few who stumbled onto the signal by accident, but a number of booths in the Pavilion were accessing the Radisson hotel high-speed wireless for free. That would explain why our wireless service in the hotel was so slow.
Best food in Salt Lake City
Anyplace you can get someone else to pick up the tab.
Worst convention center food idea
Would you really eat sushi from some guy you don't know out of a cart at a trade show convention center? You're braver than we thought.
Best thing about Outdoor Retailer
Seeing old friends. Even the ones who live 20 minutes away but have to travel 500 miles just to find time to visit with you.
Best Outdoor Retailer joke played on an exhibitor
Our Law Review editor, Jim Moss, walking up to Hind and telling them the agency sent him to model and asking where he was supposed to stand. Gaping jaws dropped even wider when Moss followed that question up with, "What outfits did you have selected for me to wear?"
Fox River foot massage -- one of our editors proposed to the masseuse 10 times, once for each toe. Equally impressive is that the masseuse knew the sock line so well.
Favorite verbal exchange in a booth
While visiting the Northwest River Supplies booth, a SNEWSÂ® editor commented to a Northwest River Supplies rep and a retailer he was chatting with that the booth seemed to be held together with nothing more than NRS tension straps.
"Yeah, kind of makes you feel like you need to be ready to run," said the rep.
"Anytime you're dealing with paddlesports people, you need to be ready to run," said the retailer.
Worst timing for overhearing part of a conversation
Racing out of the men's room on the way to an appointment, one of our editors overheard one man entering the men's room say to another entering right behind him, "Look, sounds great. I'll let you hang on to mine if you feel comfortable showing me yours." Now we know that this conversation was between two reps, probably talking about sharing product samples, but frankly, our editor was too frightened to stick around to hear the rest.
Best in-booth product promo
Arborwear's huge sign that read, "Pants-related Trauma Relief Center." A flier stated: "Some apparel has been determined to cause physical and emotional trauma in outdoor enthusiasts. If you, or someone you know, has suffered from any of the following conditions, please consult a Pants-related Trauma Relief Center representative for further information: Chafing, advanced chafing, timber crotch, splinters, woodpecker attack, etc." When we inquired as to exactly what kind of relief was available at the company's booth, they offered us salve or powder for chaffing, and some other creams and lotions. We admit to racing out of the booth before a guy with Arborwear tattooed across his collarbones offered to apply them.
Best bucket dance at the trade show
OK, so there was only one bucket dance, but really, this couldn't be topped. Hats off to Momentum Media's Alycia Cavadi for her media event which kicked off featuring three dancers in a small galvanized tub. The dancers kept their legs inside the tub for the entire dance which was creative, flowing, and --- let's just say we were very glad for the ice in our drinks to cool things down.
Best product made right on the show floor
Sam Kreig's custom chalk bags that he was making and giving away in the climbing area. We saw one that he made for a father's 3-year-old daughter who was just getting into climbing and it was so tiny it was to die for.
Funny exchange between exhibitors
A woman from the All Terrain booth leaned over the low curtain between her booth and the adjacent Centerstone booth and said, "I'm taking a paper clip and penâ€¦I'll trade you a lip balm for them."
And they are exhibiting here because? Pavilion Part 1
Life is Good found out life wasn't always good. On Saturday mid-afternoon, an Asian woman was playing catch with an object that was being hurled at a high rate of speed, meaning that she had to go out into the aisles halfway down the pavilion tent. Repeatedly the object and racing woman created near misses, until finally, a fed up person in the Life is Good booth whirled around and growled, "Excuuuse me! But some of us are actually trying to do business here!"
And they are exhibiting here because? Pavilion Part 2
Witness the photographic evidence below as proof that some of the exhibitors from China were so tuckered out from the brisk pace of doing business in America that they literally passed out. This poor chap remained sacked out on one of his own products for over one hour, oblivious to anything going on around him, including the flash of more than one camera -- we're not kidding.
Best new PR idea to get media to notice you
Kristin Carpenter has done it again. You may remember our coverage of her media event held at Hooters a few shows ago? Well, since then, media events by PR agencies are becoming passÃ© for the most part -- everyone does them. So, this year, Carpenter upped the ante by providing an RV shuttle, fully stocked with cold drinks and snacks, for media folks to get them to and from their hotels to the convention center, and to and from the convention center to special events. Not only was this a welcome respite from the crush and rush of the show, but it provided the Carpenter team an opportunity to subtly promote their clients' products.
Yes, they're cute, but what's the point?
At the Open Air Demo, there were two young lasses dressed in camouflage mini skirts and black, calf-high boots performing hip-grinding hula hoop twists and twirls. While onlookers gawked, they did their thing, mostly looking wide-eyed and very lost. When not hula hooping, the two were handing out drinks for their, errrr, sponsor -- La Bomba, an energy drink company.
Best light up the night idea
Although it is not a new idea, the execution is -- Guyot Designs new lid attachment that turns a Nalgene bottle into a cool lantern. Add some lime Kool-Aid to the water and you've got the ideal makings for an in-tent rave with a firefly liquid light. Who needs lava lamps!
Best free beverages around the show floor
Anchor Steam's at Timbuk2. After drinking the 3.2 swill most of Salt Lake tries to pass off as beer, it's nice to find some beer that tastes like beer is supposed to. The 3 p.m. iced mocha from Royal Robbins. So many people depend on this afternoon pick-me-up that the barista lines up shots for quick grabs. Margaritas at Ojai. No one knows how to tell a joke or serve up a quick and refreshing mixed drink like Julio.
Proof that offering up free stuff may bring out the worst in people
We were witness to a mob of folks grabbing yoga mats at the industry party, rolling them up and stuffing them away into packs, briefcases and even under shirts. Gang, they were meant for party attendees to use, so the selfish grabbing left most of the crowd sitting on grass and dirt.
Most amazing celebrity sighting of someone most wouldn't recognize
One of our staff ran into the inventor of the waterbed, Charles Hall doing another interesting gig at Advanced Elements designing "inflatable kayaks with cutting edge technology." www.advancedelements.com/
Best snack guaranteed to start, or end a conversation
The boys at Pacsafe were serving up Vegemite (although we do maintain Marmite is infinitely superior). Hanging at the booth was worth it just to see the look on people's faces after their first bite of a cracker topped with this dark, pungent spread.
Best dressed booth
That has to go to the Bell Canoe gang, who all wore man-skirts -- OK, OK, kilts -- for all four days of the show. And no, we didn't ask if they were wearing them traditionally, as we know some of them would have whipped up the kilts to show us.
Most bizarre use of the trade show to promote a local business
A local purveyor of "services" offered by women for a fee, offering up a 10 percent agency discount in a City Weekly ad for anyone who showed their Outdoor Retailer Summer Market badge -- ad complete with Outdoor Retailer logo. Is Salt Lake City, the community of 3.2 beer, a contradiction or what? We've scanned the ad below just in case you think we're making this one up...