So, imagine a trade show that’s really big. Now imagine that trade show is full of booths of all your favorite stuff related to running and outdoor sports, and all the people working there are dressed in outdoor cool clothing with the latest trail shoes and sandals instead of stuffy old business suits. Then imagine that you can buy anything you want! That’s kind of what the Outdoor Retailer show is like for us. The exhibitors at the show are all the vendors, ranging from popular ones you’ve heard of like Montrail, Brooks, Inov-8, Wigwam, to makers of raw goods, including high-tech fabrics and materials.
Since we’ve attended the show before (in the summer), we had our plan of attack before we started. Visit current vendors for new product, visit our list of planned vendors to add, and then shop around for cool new stuff. The current vendors had new things for us. Inov-8 has some new models coming soon, so we pre-ordered those, and Julbo has a new style of sunglasses that are great for trail runners. GU is adding a new flavor gel, which we got to try. Then we stopped by Powerbar. They are changing their gels, have a couple new flavors, and the bars are revamped too (not the chewy performance bars, but the other ones). We are definitely adding some bars to our product line. The trend there is toward natural ingredients–dried fruits, nuts, and not a whole lot else. There is a realization that people like ingredients they can pronounce.
For clothing, super light and super breathable are always demonstrated. It seemed like Gore-Tex was everywhere. The Gore-Tex branding is getting a big push and so many vendors display that label. I was interested in the offerings that are considered soft shells–zip tops of mid-weight fabric that have some wind-stopping qualities to them but are not waterproof. A few vendors had versions of the top with waterproof fabric over the shoulders, providing a great combination of comfort and protection from the elements. We have a fondness for Sierra Designs–friendly reps, reasonably priced items, and theirs was the first rain gear we bought for running back in 2000, which we used for the LA Marathon during a torential downpour (we were smiling a lot more than the runners in plastic bags).
As we walk the exhibit hall, some sales reps are more aggressive than others and want to hand out free samples. Some are handy, like lip balms and energy bars, but others, well, would you believe we came home with a “toilet in a bag”? Anyway, often the overly-friendly rep approach pays off, as we learn about products that we hadn’t even considered. Some are sort of wacky (kind of fitting for the name ZombieRunner) and others are so practical that of course we should have thought of them.
We brought back as many brochures as we could carry and placed a great batch of orders. We can’t wait for it all to show up. It’s all in a hard day’s work.