Innovation Project | Retail Videosmost recent videos from the innovation project on SNEWS

Independent specialty retailers are the lifeblood of the outdoor industry, built on little more than the grit, determination and passion of their founders.

These brick-and-mortar shops are on the front lines of our industry’s brand-building efforts. They are our best conduit to our existing customers. And they’re our brightest hope for expanding our reach to bring in more people who love, protect and support the natural resources that make our businesses possible.

The Innovation Project is a SNEWS original video series celebrating these scrappy—and savvy—entrepreneurs. We’ve interviewed the founders and owners of 18 of the country’s most respected shops about their struggles and successes. Through their stories and lessons, we will all become better at what we do: getting more people outdoors more often.

For more stories from incredible, innovative retailers, check out the new specialty retail series from the Audio Outdoorist, the Outdoor Industry Association’s podcast.

 

most recent innovation project videos

Elevation Sierra

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Elevation Sierra Adventure Essentials

“In order for a shop like ours to exist, our position is customer service,” “We don’t want salespeople, we want consultants.”

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Benchmark

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Backcountry North

“Our customers are part of our larger family.”

Benchmark

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Black Creek Outfitters

“When you’re picking gear out, what you’re really doing is picking out a ticket to go do that experience.”

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Benchmark

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The Benchmark Outfitters

“I’m helping cool people do cool things with really cool gear. I run a big kids’ toy store, as far as I’m concerned.”

Pack Rat

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Pack Rat Outdoor Center

“I think in the current landscape, to be successful, you need to really focus on what you do, and do it well,”

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Innovation Project Teaser

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Alpenglow Sports

“We feel very strongly that sharing these passions and seeing people have that first experience trail running, or skiing an untracked pow line,”

Innovation Project Teaser

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Sportago

“So much of this stuff in the industry is tactile,” Trumble says. “You can’t tell what a piece of clothing feels like or fits like when you’re ordering it online.”

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Innovation Project Teaser

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Mountain Hardware & Sports

“When they [customers] walk into Mountain Hardware and Sports, it’s going to be a treasure hunt,”

Innovation Project Teaser

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Midwest Mountaineering

“I think the fact that we’re so passionate about the outdoors is very visible to our customers,” Johnson says in Epsiode Six of The Innovation Project. “They’re still going to buy some stuff at a big box store, or online, because it’s convenient, but they love coming into Midwest Mountaineering, because get to talk to the employees.”

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Innovation Project Teaser

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Summit Hut

“We work really hard to make sure all of our staff know the trails really well, that they know the area and that they’ve tried out the product,” Davis says in this episode of The Innovation Project. “It gives us a chance to really be able to communicate with the customer.”

Great Outdoor

[VIDEO]

Moosejaw

“We’ll do marketing that’s got absolutely nothing to do with the product that we sell, it’s just to have fun,” Comerford said. “We really want to show off the performance aspects of products, but we don’t want to do it in a boring way.”

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Great Outdoor

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Great Outdoor Provision Co.

“We make a concerted effort to have a continual conversation with our customers around the ideas and concepts of land conservation. Once people discover their surroundings and the beauty of our states, North Carolina and Virginia, they’re far more compelled to preserve and save those lands.”

Feral Mountain Co.

[VIDEO]

Feral Mountain Co.

“Every decision we make has to account for that mission, [‘Create Adventure’], whether it’s hiring, staffing, buying, building relationships, marketing. Everything,” Funkhouser says. “I ask myself that question: ‘Does this help create adventure for people?’ And if it doesn’t, we don’t do it.”

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Mike Donohue, co-owner, Outdoor Gear Exchange

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Outdoor Gear Exchange

“We don’t try to pre-select what our customer should need; we try to curate the best options that are out there.”

 

Innovation Project Teaser

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Watch the Teaser

Check out this two-minute glimpse of what’s to come in our original video series: Insights, revelations, and candid opinions from 18 of the country’s most innovative outdoor retail shops.

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 [EDITOR’S NOTE]

The Innovation Project

For our special video series, we spoke with 18 of the country’s best specialty outdoor retail shops to better understand the trials and tribulations of life on the front lines of selling the outdoors.

 

 

 

Episodes of OIA’s Audio Outdoorist

Specialty Retail Community Engagement
Outdoor specialty retailers are unique among retail operations because they do so much more than sell products. They offer education and community events, support local recreational programs, interface with local government on outdoor recreation issues and they are hubs of engagement for outdoorists in their towns and cities. Why is it important for shops to be the voice of these efforts in a community? The Audio Outdoorist asks Darren Bush, owner and Chief Paddling Evangelist at Rutabaga Paddlesports John Mead, Owner and President of Adventure 16 Deek Heykamp, owner of Next Adventure.

 

Specialty Retail Human Resources
Outdoor specialty retail shops are about so much more than the transactions at the register. The personnel in the store and in the backroom are key to maintaining the communities stores develop. In this episode, the Audio Outdoorist explores recruiting, hiring retaining and onboarding the best employees.  Show guests include Ponch Membreno of Toad & Co., Lori Kleiman of HR Topics, and Nicole Leinbach Reyhle of Retail Minded.

 

Specialty Retail Insurance
There’s more to setting up an insurance plan than getting property and theft protection for your store. For example, shops have to protect themselves from liability when renting ski or bike equipment to customers or hosting product demos. In this episode, the Audio Outdoorist interviews Rob Martin, director of Outdoor Sports Insurance (a program from Horizon Agency, an OIA vendor partner), Joe Butler of Black Creek Outfitters and Bob Wade of Ute Mountaineer.

Innovation Project | Retail Videos