We weren’t sure what we would find in the booth department at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2010. The economy has been hard hit, everyone is cutting back, and new exhibits are costly. What a surprise when we discovered that many booths looked refreshed, some were brand new, and others seemingly larger. A new “open door” approach was evident in booths that in past shows had been closed in by perimeter walls and now were opened up and inviting. Display trends were not hard to spot -- lime green was everywhere in both exhibit displays and products. There was an increased use of raw and recycled wood in many of the booth constructions and displays, reminding us of the outdoor store décor of the '60s and '70s. And, we noticed a movement back to heritage.
Exhibitors showed an increasing concern for utilizing materials that reduce the cost of shipping booths and are recyclable, repurposed and feature natural elements in wall, flooring and display materials. Many chose to design and build their booths themselves. All this was reminiscent of outdoor store design in earlier times.
As in the past, we use a specific set of criteria to judge the booths that will ultimately win the prestigious SNEWS® BOB (Best of Booths) Award. We look for booths that do the best job of product presentation, informational signage, effective lighting, attractive graphics, efficient booth layout and, above all, creativity. They may not be the biggest or the slickest, but they show a unique ability to capture attention and support their brand image. Congratulations to the 2010 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market SNEWS® BOB Award winners.
Top Bob – Granite Gear
The escalator ride from the Salt Palace main entrance passes almost directly over a portion of the Granite Gear booth. It’s an odd linear configuration with a wall nestled up against the escalator. But the folks at Granite Gear love the space and this year unveiled a completely redesigned booth that fits nicely and elegantly into the approximately 40-x-20-foot floor space.
The freestanding walls on which the packs were displayed angled to the aisle to attract movement through to the display of the company’s new stuff bags hanging on the wall. They were constructed of Baltic birch and folded up for easy transport and storage.
"We wanted open and bright walls to support our new photo graphics and show our products,” said Jeff Knight, the company's CEO and designer.
The booth was designed and fabricated entirely in-house with approximately $5,000 worth of materials. With the addition of lighting, the total cost of the new booth came in between $8,000 and $10,000. It was built in only two weeks, proving that award-winning booths can be accomplished with a reasonable budget and creative people on staff.
"We’re expecting this booth to serve us well for the next six to eight years,” Knight said. “It works well for us and, with its modular style, can expand or condense as needed.”
Improved Bob – Mountain Hardwear
Mountain Hardwear chose to open its doors and create a booth that was welcoming and easy to traverse. If one looked up, it was evident that the entrance portal was in the shape of a hex nut, the Mountain Hardwear symbol. But why the change?
“We needed to be fresh and to keep people on their toes,” said Chapman Stewart. “The booth looks larger than it really is because we have gotten rid of some of the walls. We have also used fewer merchandising fixtures.”
While the booth looks to be new, the reality is that the company is using the same walls and fixtures from the old booth but in a new way. All of this renovation has resulted in a booth that is easier to set up and for the reps to use.
The booth photo graphics are an integral part of the display and have been given a second life. All the visuals in the Mountain Hardwear booth will be up for bid on the Facebook Events Page and on Flicker. The company is taking bids, and the winning bidders will receive the photos while the money raised will be donated to the Haitian relief efforts. There are 10 visuals and the bidding ends at midnight on Feb. 5. Click here to read our SNEWS story and find the link to the auction photos.
Fun Bob – Alite
We discovered this 10 x 20 booth on the SNEWS / Outdoor Retailer Merchandising Tours. It wasn’t the most polished, the biggest, or the most sophisticated, but it was the most fun. Booth visitors were invited to stay awhile around the campfire, relaxing on the company’s camp chairs. The scenario was accomplished with two dimensional wooden fire flames, bears and forest trees. The backdrop was intended to be a paint-by-numbers forest scene inviting people to add their painting skills. It consisted of white paper panels covering the entire back wall. However, even though numbers were missing, it didn’t stop artists from creating a scene to support the camp vignette in front by the show’s end. This booth embodied creativity and a sense of humor that is always appealing.
Eco Bob – Mission Workshop
Mission Workshop, a company based in San Francisco, was launched the summer of 2009 and at the Outdoor Retailer for the first time. Its product line of urban cargo backpacks fits nicely in the 10-x-20-square-foot booth built entirely of recycled materials. A shipping container was cut up to make booth walls. An old greenhouse contributed to the opaque roof. This booth was uncomplicated and straightforward and it was easy to see that repurposed and recycled were descriptives that applied to this winner of the Eco BOB Award.
Mini Bob – O Loves M
Everyone loves a good story and Merle O’Brien, owner/designer of O Loves M has a whopper. She needed to create a 10-x-10-square-foot booth for Winter Market to merchandise her line of purses and totes made from yoga mats and fabrics. She placed a call for help on Craigslist and received close to 30 replies. Ultimately, she chose a young man from Salt Lake City who submitted ideas to Merle, but nothing was final until she arrived in Salt Lake the day before the show opened. With one day to create and set up the booth, creativity reigned. Pallets were repurposed from the dumpsters outside the Salt Palace, as was the carpet padding used on the booth floor. Waterfall arms were notched and attached to the walls to hold the company’s purses. A counter was once an old door and the reception counter and stool were built from scratch.
The result was a rough-hewn booth that cost a total of $250 with lots of character that worked beautifully to show the colorful O Loves M product assortment. This booth was another example of what creative thinking and a small budget can accomplish.
Déjà Vu Bob – Sole
The Sole booth is not new, but it is enhanced each show with additional display materials. The sky-high white fabric canopy set the stage for the booth’s white illuminated walls on which product was displayed. The reception counter, the TV stand, benches and stacked display fixture against the side wall were all constructed of corrugated cardboard from Molo Design. Smaller corrugated benches from the Flexible Love Company were scattered around the booth to provide seating. They were perfect for sitting while trying on the company’s footwear. All the corrugated fixtures fold up for storage. In fact, the entire 900-square-foot booth fits on two pallets.
“Exhibitors have to realize that they are not limited aesthetically by using lighter materials,” said Mike Baker, president of Sole. “Our goal is to continue to find recyclable materials to use in the booth.”
The company search is on to find or develop recyclable cork flooring for the booth similar to what the company uses on its footwear. It will be fun to watch the evolution of the Sole booth in future shows.
Display Bob – Outdoor Technology
The classic Airstream trailer has been used lots of ways in past shows, and Outdoor Technology utilized this classic for a mobile showroom to showcase its accessory and technology products. Owner Caro Krissman wanted a mobile showroom that he could use for promotions and trade shows, and he found a 1966 Airstream Safari that was not in the best of shape and renovated it himself.
He started his renovation by cutting double barn-style doors to widen the entrance. He constructed steps that made it easier to enter the space. Metal slat wall pieces were placed on the sidewalls to hold products hanging on pegs and a strip of red paint defined the walls. Solar panels on top of the trailer provided energy to run the video that occupies a space on a skateboard-style ramp in the front of the trailer. Benches provided storage and seating against the wall that was softly lit with lights under wood soffits.
The trailer rested on Astroturf flooring and was complete with a picnic table covered in the company’s advertising and epoxied.
Every detail was planned to work efficiently as merits such a small space. The arrangement of the built-in benches, the cork flooring and the double doors at the entrance created a welcome and comfortable environment for buyers.
--Sharon Leicham (Photos by Sharon Leicham, Granite Gear, Judy Leand)