The Do’s and Dont’s of the OR Show

The Outdoor Retailer (OR) show is kind of a weird thing, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing.  The basic concept is this: you have buyers, and sellers, and they all want to meet each other and do commerce. The sellers are trying to get their products sold for the year, the buyers are trying to fill their shops.  The deals and the players can be immense, and I like to think of them as big proud great white sharks, patrolling the ocean that is the outdoor industry, reigning king over all the small fishes in the sea: the consumers.  Some fish though, some fish get wise to the sharks, and they’re like “Oh, I can like suck on to this sharks belly and cruise around with him or her, and eat the carrion that escapes their killing machine jaws… Cool.”  The sucker fish are the media, with a few notable exceptions: Corey Rich, Renan Ozturk, Jimmy Chin… Camp 4 Collective, Nat Geo, Outside Magazine, etc.  These guys are kind of like hammerhead sharks.  They’re not as big as great whites, but they can tear your shit up.  And they have sucker fish, too.

I am a writer, so I’m kind of like a sucker fish off of a sucker fish.  I eat  the detritus that suckerfish photographers and videographers leave behind.  Still, I kind of keep the sharks bellies clean and many of them, if I am persistent enough, will take the time to hear my thoughts.  My thoughts mainly consist of “Okay, so, I know that I LOOK like a sucker fish, but inside, I am actually a huge and terrifying great white shark, and all I need is a LITTLE bit of help to achieve my great potential, and that’s where you come in!”  They hear me out, and I think they earnestly care, but the fact is, they deal on the level of sharks, and until I become one, there’s little they can do for me.  If you want to become a shark, you will get some help along the way, but you mostly have to do it on your own.

While I think the whole thing is a little weird, I don’t begrudge it.  It’s just work, and if there was no work involved, all us little fishes would complain about how easy the Sharks had it.  If you’ve ever thought about going, I’d recommend it.  That said, after hitting up a couple of shows myself, I’d like to pass on some valuable advice.  And so, I bring to you:

The Do’s and Dont’s of Outdoor Retailering!

DO: Bring at least one plaid shirt, and at least one not plaid shirt.  But definitely bring a plaid shirt.
DON’T: Wear the same shirt three days in a row.

DO: Take a shower, each night.
DON’T: Allow yourself to get compared to the famous Desert Dirtrat, Alf.

DO: Shave awkwardly long neck hairs if you’ve gotten to the age where you start growing them.
DON’T: Shave everything on your face.  Definitely don’t shave everything.  Even if you’re a woman.

DO: Introduce yourself to Ben Moon, if you happen to see him.
DON’T: Tell THIS Ben Moon that you are certainly familiar with his long string of illustrious ascents, thinking you are talking to THIS Ben Moon.

And Last but not least…

DO: Shmooze it up, get to know people, and rub elbows with the pros.
DON’T, BUT DEFINITELY DON’T DO THIS:  The 8,734th person I met at the OR show was Will Mayo.  I was a little bit blushy, and starry-eyed.  Now, I may just be a rock climber but I still KNOW about ice climbing, so I was familiar with Will’s bone crushing ways. Furthermore, I had just heard this amazing Dirtbag Diary that Will had done about something called Vol-Bivying – which is basically paragliding from mountain to mountain, flying insane amounts of miles along the way, and basically being a huge badass.  It was the raddest thing I’d heard of in a long time, and I decided I would tell Will as much.

At first, he feigned ignorance.  “Dirtbag Diary?” he queried.  So I persisted.  “Yeah, you know, the podcast.”  Will kept up the act, unfazed.  “Maybe I am doing interviews I don’t even know about.  What was the subject of the podcast?”  Feeling slightly confused, I tried to explain.  “You’re messing with me, right?  You know, you did that incredible trip paragliding through the Canadian Rockies… what do they call it?  Vole bivy or something?” Will smiled.  Okay, I wasn’t crazy, he was just playing hard to get.  “Yeah,” he said, nodding knowingly, “that wasn’t me.  That was Will Gadd.  Don’t worry it happens all the time.”  Will MAYO (not GADD) departed shortly after, leaving me alone with my thoughts (which mostly consisted of “Well, THAT just happened.”) and our mutual friend and sponsor’s thoughts (which mostly consisted of “!!@$# %^& $&^@#”).



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