Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2014 Best of Booth Awards

Find out which booths attracted the attention of our Merchandising Editor Robin Enright as Best of Booth winners at Winter Market 2014.

Visual merchandising and booth construction might not be an exact science, despite countless textbooks, recognized best practices or accepted methodology. At the end of the day, the question begging to be answered is, “Did I get noticed?” Great work in merchandising functions much like the child jumping up and down begging for attention — it’s hard to ignore.

The winners for Best of Booth at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market were recognized for expression of their personality, stellar visual merchandising and fun in booth design. Some of our winners had subtle details that caused a second look and helped us unwrap the story that led to their place on the podium. Regardless, all had a certain something that compelled us to share with you.

Best of Booth: Native Eyewear
Adventures in the outdoors often end with a common element whether the recreation involved skiing, hiking, kayaking, cycling or angling and that feature is also common at every Outdoor Retailer show: Beer! Native Eyewear transformed their booth into a brewhouse atmosphere to reflect a feeling of communal gathering and story telling. With a limited budget, Native endeavored to reflect brand personality through a booth that had a favorite-end-of-day-adventure flavor.


The 20-by-60 foot booth spotlighted details like growler lights from Telluride Brewing in Telluride, Colo., Double Mountain Brewery in Hood River, Ore. and Great Northern Brewery in Whitefish, Mont. All are breweries from towns they worked with during their Locals Only Project where fans choose the mountain town that will be the background to Native’s next catalog.

The booth repurposed much of the metal from the former structure and improved upon the artwork and furniture to keep costs down while still articulating a new story and developing a successful makeover.

Next on tap for Native will be a custom bar built out of beetle kill pine to work as a kegarator, more chalk art and more music at Summer Market. We’ll be there!

Booth Builder: Czarnowski (www.czarnowski.com), Artwork Design: Motive (www.thinkmotive.com/) Chairs from Urban Wood Furnishings in Chicago

Best Newcomer: Kurgo Dog Products
Kurgo Dog Products might be new to Outdoor Retailer, but they’ve been in business since 2003, launched by brothers Gordie and Kittie Spater who invented the backseat barrier to keep their hound from plunging into the front seat on family car trips.


The 20-by-20 foot booth is centered around an Airstream camper utilized for its iconic and long-lasting quality intended to reflect Kurgo’s reputation for durability and the casual and fun nature of its products. Surprising elements like lamps mounted upside down inside the trailer and old school lawn chairs lined with a fence suggesting a yard in Any Town, America, combined with a grill warmed by a tangle of Christmas lights made the booth cozy and fun and, well, I kind of wish I had brought my dog and could have lounged in the campsite while toasting marshmallows.

Booth was designed and fabricated in house.

Tune Up Best of Booth: Icebreaker
Many visitors to Icebreaker’s previous booth will remember lots of white: white walls, white mannequins and a somewhat antiseptic atmosphere not really in sync with the warmth and color provided by their merino wool clothing and accessories. The tune up for Outdoor Retailer Winter Market was instantly noticeable with its cozy living room style, right down to the mounted flat screen television, entrance. The warmth of the wood paneled walls lined with photographs is a feature much more in alignment not only with its product line, but with Icebreaker staff personality and its New Zealand heritage.


Icebreaker, which is in the midst of expanding its retail footprint, wanted the booth to provide guidance to retailers as well as reflect the feel of its new stores. It ties the brand together, and much of the booth was build with materials repurposed from the previous one.


Icebreaker’s booth was scaled down from a 50-by-50 foot space to 30-by-50 feet, but it did not feel tight or small with efficient details bringing merchandising into the spotlight. Accessories were given room to breathe and walls told the color stories of collections with product placement mirroring opportunities for retailers.

Booth builder: Greenspace, Designed by Stephen Cook of Cleanroom Design 

Honorable Mentions:

Life is Good
Life is Good celebrates 20 years in business this spring and with product that is evolving to capture the attention of today’s 25-34 year old post college and active generation, the brand made a few subtle changes to their 40-by-40 foot booth to include a front porch with a beers-and-music hang-out kind of vibe. The brand, which focuses on being optimistic and encourages a perspective to see what’s good in life, began with their signature stick figure and boxy fit, is in the midst of a product upgrade effective Spring 2014 which will be more fashion relevant featuring a slimmer fit with scoop and v-neck necklines to capture the attention of today’s youth while still appealing to their original customers from back in the day.


We’re optimistic that Life is Good will continue to make us smile.

Gramicci’s 40-by-30 foot booth is an expression of art for the brand and with this year’s freshly painted blue walls, the intent was to provide a happy pop of color while adding a refreshing and wintery feel. The walls from Summer Market 2013 had line work that Gramicci especially liked, and they got a face lift with a fresh coat of paint. The 32 year-old brand looks at its booth as ‘perfectly imperfect’ with a worn and weathered, and especially comfortable, feel. Changes are economical but noticeable. It’s no mistake that this is a direct reflection of the cozy product inside.


Nau had an opportunity with triple its previous Outdoor Retailer real estate and took full advantage of the space with their modern cabin A-frame aesthetic which is also the inspiration behind the Fall/Winter 2014 collection. The 20-by-40 foot booth married industrial and natural materials with the end result of a warm and modern boutique-oriented space. Brand stories were told on exterior mannequins. The open space was an invitation to come inside and explore, and we did!


Booth Design by William Kaven Architecture (www.williamkaven.com) and Booth Builder: Atmosphere (www.atmosphereignites.com)

It’s in the details:

Outdoor Research
Big stories sometimes come in tiny packages and Outdoor Research captured our attention with the story of their ‘Livin’ Tiny: A Quest for Powder’ house. The house which also functioned as conference room enjoyed a regular flow of visitors ooohing and aaaahing thanks to the compelling story.


Big impact does not have to translate into big dollars or complicated props. Freewaters uses a simple fence with wood screws to display its product. The simplicity of the display helped the product jump up and down to be noticed.


Mountain Khakis
Naming mannequins is not only playful and visually interesting, but the names and back story on each body provides us with information on who might wear Mountain Khaki products and what they can do in them.


Clif Bar and Co.
One dimensional brand names on the side of a booth is just so...yesterday. Switch gears and spice things up, like Clif Bar and Co. did here.


Horny Toad
While I love mannequins and the stories they help tell, Horny Toad demonstrates there are other ways to get a message across. Horny Toad has won a display BOB at just about every Outdoor Retailer, so don’t think of attending the show and missing their merchandising. Ever.


We hope you are just as intrigued with the certain something we found at each of these booths and will join us in a hearty bravo for all of our 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 2014 to merchandising editor, Robin Enright, at robin@merchandisingmattersnow.com.

SNEWS Merchandising Editor Robin Enright
is the founder of Merchandising Matters, 
which provides merchandising support to brands, retailers and their agencies.

Reach her via email at robin@merchandisingmattersnow.com

with questions, ideas and suggestions.