VIDEO: The Retail Immersion Project | Tom Barney's big takeaway lessons

The Retail Immersion Project | Tom Barney's big takeaway lessons

After five weeks working the sales floor, Tom Barney reflects on the many lessons learned.

It's very easy for brand executives to talk about how they are committed to supporting independent specialty retailers. It's another thing entirely for them to take time away from the corner office in order to immerse themselves in the day-to-day business of running a shop.

That's what Tom Barney, former CEO of Osprey and the new COO of Verde Brand Communications, did during the busy holiday season. "There's a natural process that happens to leaders in business," he says. "They get insulated to what's truly happening with retailers and reps and agencies."

There are floors to be swept, sales to be rung, clinics to sit through, shelves to stock, schedules to manage, orders to submit, calls to make, even toilets to be plunged during a day in the life of a specialty store owner. In the spirit of building stronger communication and more cooperation, Barney hopes that more outdoor execs will follow in his footsteps by creating their own immersion experiences and sharing their stories.

Learn more about Barney's experience and watch live video clips here.

Tom Barney studying paperwork at Backcountry Experience.

Tom Barney studying paperwork at Backcountry Experience.

And if you are a brand exec interested in being featured in an upcoming Retail Immersion Project or a retail shop willing to host an immersion, drop us a line at



The Retail Immersion Project: Tom Barney's first impressions

Tom Barney shares 10 “aha” moments from his first week working the sales floor as part of The Retail Immersion Project. DURANGO, COLORADO -- Six days in a row working at Backcountry Experience . . . my grand experiment has begun. I wrapped up 15 terrific years with Osprey Packs more

Barney helps a customer during his Retail Immersion at Backcountry Experience. // Photo: Courtesy

Tom Barney reflects on his Retail Immersion at Backcountry Experience

Tom Barney, former CEO of Osprey Packs, tackles the sales floor. His involvement with Backcountry Experience has taught him invaluable lessons about retail, and he encourages other executives to take a break and learn. Tom Barney spent more than 15 years at Osprey Packs before more

Tom Barney makes his first report from the field, on his first day as a sales employee at Backcountry Experience in Durango, Colorado.

Video: Tom Barney's first day working retail

Tom Barney starts his new gig on the sales floor of a Colorado outdoor gear shop, and shares his first report for The Retail Immersion Project. Former Osprey CEO Tom Barney has started a new job as a seasonal employee at Backcountry Experience in Durango, Colo. Yep, that’s more


The Retail Immersion Project: Former Osprey exec. hits the retail sales floor

Bridging the gap between brands and shops by embedding C-level executives onto the sales floor, The Retail Immersion Project kicks off with Tom Barney and Durango, Colorado-based Backcountry Experience. Tom Barney has worked at the helm of iconic outdoor brands like Osprey more

Owner of Backcountry Experience Ben Rockis working the pack wall during the holiday rush. // Photo: Tom Barney

Week 2 | The Retail Immersion Project: People and Products

There's only one way to fully understand—and help solve— the challenges that specialty retail shops face today: Log time in a shop. That's how former Osprey CEO Tom Barney is spending his holiday season, and every day is a new lesson. My second week at Backcountry Experience was more


RIP, Tom Zajicek

Tom Zajicek, a beloved employee of Durango's Backcountry Experience died on Sunday in a tragic climbing accident on Starlight Peak, in California. Zajicek, an experienced climber, reportedly summited the 14,200-foot peak at 2 p.m. with Laura Scull, an associate professor of more

Courtesy of  Tom Barney

Osprey's Tom Barney goes from CEO to sales clerk

The surprising next move for Tom Barney, departing CEO of Osprey Packs AFTER 15 YEARS AT THE HELM of leading pack and luggage maker Osprey Packs, Tom Barney has decided it’s time for a change of course. But his next move might surprise you. Barney plans to hire on at a local more


The Retail Immersion Project | Cam Brensinger & Sunlight Sports

It’s been at least ten years since I’ve been a proper outdoor consumer. I fell in love with ice climbing—and about a dozen other outdoor pursuits—when I was a freshman in college in 1994. I spent pretty much every spare dollar I had for the next decade assembling my stash of more

Mike Leffler

Retailers at Grassroots Connect speak up about struggles

The black-curtained maze at Grassroots Connect is swarming with like-minded independent specialty retailers placing orders, talking shop, sharing ideas and, yes, commiserating about the challenges they face every day in their businesses. This group of retailers, all members of more