ORSM ’12 Merchandising Preview: The birth of a booth

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday leading up to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, we've previewed the top new trends and products you’ll see at the trade show in Salt Lake City, Aug. 1-5, and this is the last in our installment. All these stories also can be found in the print or digital flipbook edition of our Planning Guide.
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Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday leading up to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, we've previewed the top new trends and products you’ll see at the trade show in Salt Lake City, Aug. 1-5, and this is the last in our installment. All these stories also can be found in the print or digital flipbook edition of our Planning Guide.

Outdoor Retailer exhibitors continually inspire us with their vision and resourcefulness. From the smallest 10x10 to an enormous double-height booth, practically every inch of the Salt Palace sows seeds of creativity. Regular attendees know that season after season, the show provides opportunities to observe, learn and grow.

Rob Roth, owner of Portland, Oregon’s Greenspace, is intimately familiar with how such ephemeral works of art and architecture are born, having been midwife to 15 Outdoor Retailer exhibitor spaces. Greenspace fabricates booths in its home state using repurposed and reclaimed earthy materials. Each client arrives with a unique brand personality, and the company prides itself in capturing that ethos.

According to Roth, one of the most important elements of booth design — aside from knowing who you are — is choosing what to put in the space. Greenspace focuses on function first and then addresses form; “dressing it up and making it work” could be its mantra. He views the success of collaborations as a direct result of “how well we listened.”

In addition to sustainability, modularity, shifting company dynamics and line additions must be considered in the planning process. Roth, who boasts more than 30 years of trade show experience, feels Greenspace’s strength lies in its comfort and experience both with logistics and in the outdoor industry overall. The progression for exhibitors — from lobby to ballroom to showroom, for example — impacts booth design and those needs must be considered.

Lead time for a new booth depends on the project’s size and scope, but design may start six months out, and the fabrication phase typically takes 6-8 weeks. All booths are built and set up in Greenspace’s facility before they ship to the tradeshow floor where manufacturers can pull together a planogram and figure out how to theme the rooms in advance.

Unique personality tends to be introduced in the form of a distinctive, or “hook,” item, like Prana’s ropes, or the trees in Outdoor Research’s booth at ORWM 2012 (photo above), or Sea to Summit’s magazine-style dwelling (photo below).

Roth cautions: “Don’t get sold only on the design; remember to pay close attention to the company you’ll be working with.” Greenspace uses outside designers and each is hand-picked for a particular client for best fit.

Look for new booth details provided by Greenspace at Prana, Oboz and Hi-Tec this summer. We can’t wait!

--Robin Enright

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