Outdoor Retailer (a historical summary, part 5)
George asked if I had been to the OR show, and then told me I HAD to go if I wanted to launch an outdoor brand. He was right.
The Outdoor Retailer show is in Salt Lake City, and turned out to be a heck of a weekend for me. I got in touch with my friend Heather who’s a nurse in SLC and asked if I could crash at her place for a weekend. With a couch lined up, I found a Craigslist Ridesharer, took a day’s leave from my 9-5, and set off.
The Craigslist Ridesharer was terrible. She wanted me to drive well below the speed limit even when the highway was straight, flat, and dry, and couldn’t handle it when I passed 18-wheelers. We of course made it all the way to SLC without incident, but when we got there the city was covered in ice. Literally. I opened the car door, put one foot down, and ended up sitting on the ground. A ¼ inch layer of freezing rain had coated every flat surface making driving and walking very dangerous. I arrived at Heather’s just as she was coming home from the bars with some friends.
I had torn my shoulder while skiing two weeks before so with my back pack slung over one arm and the other in a sling, I ventured into the OR show at the Salt Palace Convention Center. It was completely overwhelming, and I spent the first few hours just trying to get my bearings. I walked through a large exhibition hall before realizing it was just a collection of the late registrants and people they couldn’t put anywhere else – I didn’t even know there was a fabric area to the show. I reviewed the floor map while eating lunch, discovered my mistake, and made a bee-line for the textile area.
Minimums are a new brand’s worst enemy, and I ran into plenty of dead-ends because of that. It got the point where my opening question was “What are your MOQ’s?” There were some decently cool fabrics there, but a lot of them wanted several thousand yard orders and there’s no way I would want to place that for my first production run.
I talked to anyone that would talk to me. Half the time I think they just felt bad for me walking around in a sling, but people know people and I got several valuable referrals by refusing to be shy.