Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2012: SNEWS Best of Booth Awards

Merchandising Editor Robin Enright reveals the SNEWS Best of Booth Awards from Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2012.

Outdoor Retailer is where it’s at to see visual merchandising in top form, and Winter Markert 2012 did not disappoint. With each show, finding the SNEWS Best of Booth (BOB) becomes just a tad more challenging, but paying attention to individual elements like display, materials used in booth construction, customer engagement, as well as that certain artfulness in overall design, helps narrow down the choices. Please join us in congratulating the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2012 BOB winners and read on for visual merchandising inspiration.

Best Overall BOB - Woolrich

We visual merchandisers refer to booths like Woolrich as ‘totally dialed.’ Nothing was left to chance in this booth, right down to the smallest of details.

Woolrich has a rich history to share and also wanted to demonstrate their continued relevance as a partner in the enjoyment of today’s outdoor activities, and designed their booth to tell that story. The brand’s booth designers asked themselves the question: “What’s different, special and relevant today,” then developed their 40-by-70-foot booth around the answer.

Manufacturers of outdoor apparel since 1830, the Pennsylvania mill is so full of museum-quality historical objects, the team had a tough time deciding what NOT to use as props, according to Brent Hollowell, vice president of marketing, and Leah Dole, creative director. The open center of the booth was designed to show us the heart of the brand by sharing their rich company history. Sheep sheers, sock dryers, garment racks, loom shuttles, even a framed letter from General McClellan, kept Woolrich’s ‘heart’ full of fascinated visitors. JDK (Jager Di Paola Kemp Design) assisted Woolrich in creation of the new look and feel of the booth displays.

Booth exterior provided contrast with the heart of yesterday by adding contemporary imagery and quotes more reflective of today’s outdoor enthusiast. Cube graphics were repurposed to mirror the walls of the booth’s past and present. Bravo, Woolrich!

Sustainable BOB - United by Blue

The dynamite potential and significance of details in design and merchandising can be best appreciated when you learn that the first thing that grabbed our eyes at United by Blue’s booth were recycled wooden hangers branded with their logo.

United by Blue’s mission is to remove one pound of trash from the world’s oceans and waterways with every product sold, and by incorporating elements of its recycling mission into their booth design, the brand story is visually continued. All plastic has been eliminated from the brand’s packaging with product shipped in tree-free paper that comes from banana trees.

The booth design recalls a hiking shack complete with tin roofing and old-time artifacts loaned by a Salt Lake City family, and the entire 10-by-20-foot booth packs up into the porch, which doubles as crate. Mike Cangi, director of cleanups, said that only biodegradable bags are used in clean-up projects, and when they recover No. 2, No. 4, and No. 5 plastic, it goes to Method to produce their Ocean Plastic Bottle. Cool!

New Product Introduction BOB - LaCrosse Footwear

When you have a rich company history and a new line of colorful heritage-inspired rubber boots to introduce, why not do so in typical Danner/LaCrosse family style, with a new 20-by-30-foot booth that has a retro-urban-rehab feel? Archival imagery adds just the right design detail, as do the recreated old-style factory windows used to display footwear. Booth design was a collaborative effort with the LaCrosse team and Portland, Ore. artist, Brian Pietrowski. Product takes center stage while reminding visitors that this company has the longevity worth bragging about. We can’t wait to see what this crew comes up with next!

Small Booth Remodel BOB - Chooze

Chooze made its second appearance at Outdoor Retailer with a new 10-by-25-foot booth designed by Portland, Ore.-based Greenspace. After spending her first Outdoor Retailer in the shadow of Keen’s entertaining booth, Chooze founder, Sharon Blumberg jotted down the details she admired and returned to Winter Market with a booth that reflects those design elements. Colorful knit chair covers add bright splashes of color and contrast and the playfulness of Chooze product remains evident right down to the recycled and reusable cardboard boxes the shoes come in.

Blumberg hopes her children’s product line (footwear where the left shoe is always different from the right) provides confidence for kids to be different and to celebrate their uniqueness. Chooze also invests a percentage of company profits in anti-poverty programs to provide support to impoverished women and help eliminate the lack of choice from their lives.

Educational BOB - Columbia Sportswear

Most of those that work in the outdoor retail environment know the challenge of explaining wind velocity or how waterproof one fabric is over another. In its push to promote its technologies, Columbia drives the story home with its in-booth educational center, complete with scientists wearing white lab coats who man the wind machine and water station. Columbia has made the technical tactile, and that makes its Omni technology experience accessible to everyone.

Columbia Global Brand Environments worked with design partner, Skylab Architecture on booth concept with Woody Blackford, Columbia’s vice president of global innovation to conceptualize the demonstration tools designed and produced by Black Cat Productions.

Display BOB - Prism

Kites not only look best out of the package and displayed up high where they are meant to be flown, but benefit from being backlit to stand out.

Display BOB - Core Concepts

Displays are critical in demonstrating unique product but special care needs to be taken to position such displays in a way they can’t be missed. Core Concepts takes care of that minor detail with a framed vignette. The addition of gently drifting snowflakes adds valuable visual interest.


Display BOB - Marmot

Color! Marmot never fails to draw us in with their bold and colorful displays.


Display BOB - New Balance

Keep that product story going on exterior walls! Check out New Balance’s playfully framed merchandise art that invites all to touch.


Congratulations to all BOB winners! Think your booth might have what it takes to make it to the BOB podium next show? Send an email alert before the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market to merchandising editor, Robin Enright, at robin@merchandisingmattersnow.com.

Robin Enright is the founder of Merchandising Matters www.merchandisingmattersnow.com, which provides visual merchandising and marketing support to the outdoor retail industry.