Outdoor trends of the decade ... I bet you wish YOU had thought of that in 2001

Low-elevation balance tricks: In previous decades, climbing took place way up in the mountains, far from prying eyes and flashbulbs (remember those?). But if there's no camera, who will see your rippling lats? I'll admit that at the time the rise of bouldering never made sense to me ... it seemed like a great way to sell a lot less gear to an even smaller segment of the population .... but then I saw a couple of the videos. Turns out climbing in front of a huge crowd that's amped up on (insert energy drink here) can be totally rad. And dovetailing in on the mass acceptance of bouldering's balance tricks, came the acceptance of slacklining: a campsite dare that's turned into a phenomenon -- and very likely the hottest item of 2009.

iPod pockets: It seems like yesterday -- or, holy shit, eight years ago -- that Apple introduced the iPod. According to the people I've never met at Wikipedia, the thing debuted on Oct. 23, 2001, about six weeks after the tragedy of 9/11 and heading into one of the darkest holidays on record. But not only did the iPod reinvigorate Apple and recast the portable music market .... it sent outdoor gear designers into a tizzy. The first "iPod pockets" that hit the market became the difference maker for hard shells and backpacks. Later on, they became de rigeur in everything from hooded sweatshirts to golf pants. For a spot I did back in 2005, I joked that a new jacket had an "iPod pocket for its iPod pocket." Nobody laughed (as usual), but I thought it was hysterical.

Merino wool: Once upon a time when warmth was wealth, wool was the currency. It never really went away, but we all recognize that wool took a back seat to synthetics in late 1900s. Look around though, and you'd be hard pressed to find a material better suited to being the outdoor world's choice of the decade. You've got your mega-modern wool hipsters. You've got your legacy brands that continue to make wool their bread and butter, even after 185+ years. And you've got your newbies jumping on the wool bandwagon ... and who can blame them? Not even Nostradamus could've predicted that three dozen+ brands would be making $30 merino wool socks in 2010.

Hydration: When I was kid we called it "drinking water," but in the last 10 years "hydration" became more than something you do when you get thirsty while exercising, it became an entire industry. There are rack upon rack of hydration packs made for virtually any outdoor activity. There are bottles that calculate your exertion and remind you when to sip. And there are even flavored Alka Seltzer tablets sold in $15 six packs that enhance your body's ability to accept the water that you put in your mouth. Just writing this makes me thirsty.

Energy drinks: I can't explain it better than this. LINK: "We're going to look back on this era of energy drinks, and history will not be kind."

Extreme gear for mild mannered pursuits:
It may be trade show legend, but it may be true as well. When Simms Fishing Products introduced the G3 Guide Wader back in the early 2000s -- a $400 fishing wader that was better built and arguably more spaceworthy than stuff the Apollo astronauts used -- few thought that the things would become more than a pricey footnote. When the G3 shattered previous sales records, however, both retailers and reps realized they were onto something. High end, high performance gear isn't just for guys on the Khumbu Icefall ... it's for everyone that heads outside. And while Simms embodied the spirit of "there's no bad weather, only bad gear" for a pursuit that primarily involves standing still, other brands spent the decade capitalizing on microscopically less outdoorsy items like $800 baby strollers named after premier mountaineering ranges.

Yoga pants: I have a friend who works for a major yoga brand. The one that makes those pants. Yeah, those pants. He swears that he has a file of letters written by guys who want to thank the company personally for "making women's butts look fantastic." I believe him.


Incredibly painful, cringe inducing, OMG figure skating crashes

Sports Videos, News, Blogs

The Dark Side

I’ve gone over to the dark side,” said the ex-journo with a grin. His skin looked clearer, his eyes brighter and lacking the bags that so often framed them during his deadline days. Was he happier, too? I couldn’t be sure. But I think yes.

For those shifting from editorial to PR, it’s hard to call the “dark side” a euphemism anymore. It’s so common a term among communications career traders that it’s become a generic. A rock solid visualization for the transformation that just happened.

You were Luke Skywalker (living on a desert planet, eating unnamed organic geometric vegetables, targeting womp rats from your T-16 on Friday nights). You were living with your aunt and uncle. And you tried to marry the first girl that kissed you, until you found out she was your cousin.

But after going to the dark side? Now you’re Anakin Skywalker. Not only do you have full access to a skin-tight black leather wardrobe, but you’re nailing Natalie Portman and you’ve got the star cruiser-sized cohones to rock a sweet rat tail. Don’t even TRY to tell me it doesn’t feel good.

Tactically speaking, when a journo says they’ve gone to the dark side, what they mean is that they've put their creativity up on the selling block for the highest bidder. It means that they've traded a business card that says "reporter/editor" for one that says "public relations account manager.” It means that they’ve gone from being a content creator, to being a content advocate. And most importantly, it means that they haven’t gone to “the Jedi Side” (a euphemism for taking a teaching job that hasn’t quite caught on yet).

The thing is … for PR folks who’ve made the changeover, going to the dark side doesn’t feel like the easy way out to anything. It’s a challenging career on a shifting landscape that makes newspapers seem stable. It's a stinging relinquishment of your byline rights. And it’s deadly competitive.

It may seem more stable than the deadline-driven world of journalism. It may seem more healthy to head home at 6 pm, rather than putting a paper to bed at 3 am. It may even be more lucrative than working as $14/hour reporter for 75 hours a week.

But make all the generalizations you want about the differences between the dark side and whatever-the-other-side-is-called – and you’ll never be able to knock a single truth off it’s pedestal.

The dark side needs journalism like the PGA Tour needs Tiger. Maybe more.


2009 VERY Unsafe Outdoor Games For Christmas

* Dean Potter's Fabulous Flaming Flying Squirrel Kit

* Hey, sweet man breasts! The BPA Drinking Game

* Croc Stock Limbo

* "LOST": Special Fly Fishing Retailer Edition.

* Design Your Own Gene Simmons Ski Kit

* Stand-Up Paddlesnipers

* "Honey I just cashed in our 401Ks to start a t-shirt company based on optimistic slogans and cute stick figure dudes."


Grace Potter & The Nocturnals at the Fillmore, 12/14/09

Saving the best for last, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals lit up the crowd at the Fillmore last night. Arguably, they laid down the best 45 minutes of music I've ever seen.

The stretch began with the last couple songs of the set and continued through a hard charging encore that left the not-quite capacity crowd pounding the floor and cheering for more. As the opening chords of "White Rabbit" roped through the San Francisco crowd, I thought people's heads were going to pop off.

The ending jam was loud and spirited and real, as only Grace and the crew can do. The only bummer is that it seemed like an entirely different band from the one that started the show.

Maybe it was the camera crew. Maybe it was end of the tour fatigue. Maybe it was the new material with the radio play hooks and the soft rock touch. But for the most part, the first half of the show failed to move the not-quite-sold-out crowd.

"I hope you're ready to hear some new material," grinned Grace after the opening jam. "Cause you're going to get it." I seem to remember that she also tacked on "whether you like it or not" to the end of that sentence, but maybe that was my imagination.

When Grace Potter is on target, she's mesmerizing. That hair, that smile, and that unforgettable voice are a formidable combination. Her brand of music is beautiful and inspiring, and it's an amazing thing to watch her and the band work the crowd.

But as with any band .... or brand .... the debut of new material is Darwinism at it's best.

After they've been played, it's easy to recognize the ones that never should've been there in the first place.

But when a new song or a new product survives, it's not merely because it's fitter than the rest. It's because the new thing is a natural progression of the old thing.

It's true to your roots. It's a reflection of your heritage. And it's pure.


Iceland redux

You've heard it before ... "Iceland is green, and Greeland is icy" ... but after you visit the world outside Reykjavik, you've got to know that the countryside can turn dark. And nasty. And, yes, cold.

Ragnar Axelsson got some love in the NY Times recently for his pix of Greenland, but go to his site and check the Iceland gallery to see some images that will inspire you to turn up the heat and put on a nice cozy wool sweater.

LINK: Ragnar Axelsson Iceland Gallery

A marriage made in the outdoors

The last rebranding of RSN was in 2000, when the company had more than 130 employees, owned a travel agency, had regular appearances on Headline News and the Weather Channel, and was getting regular fill ups from the seemingly inexhaustible gas tank of the Dot Com boom.

The rebranding targeted two goals: to reign in the massive variation in current branding (remember “the hurricane logo”?), and to set the stage for a multi-platform, multi-galaxy explosion of content into the world of the outdoors.

Based on the wisdom of the times (publicly announced venture capital x 2), the company was worth at least $60 million, if not twice that. You had a core of proven television success that was going to be amplified by the newfangled total awesomeness of the Internets. Look out world, here we come.

And then, as we can see in the rear view mirror, the bottom fell out. First came a plunging stock market, then came the massive personal and business anxiety that followed 9/11. As web money went away, so did web strategy… and so did employees. Myself included.

It was a nasty, painful time that saw the funeral of numerous well-intentioned outdoor.com entities.

But RSN survived because they were able -- like no one else -- to retreat to their foundation. They went back to the one thing that they always did better than anyone else. Destination market television.

If you live in an RSN town – Park City, Vail, Crested Butte, Sugarloaf or others – you know what I’m talking about. RSN has raised the quality of the local channel to previously unheard of levels. They didn’t do it by imitating the low budget small market content of places like Idaho Falls and Burlington. They did it by creating their own version of wicked outdoorsy television: snow reports in the morning, eye candy during après ski, mellow movies at night, and nothing at all between 10 am and 3 pm when everybody’s outside doing something fun.

And if you advertised on RSN in the last 10 years – you also know the secret: that TV exposure on RSN delivers a ridiculous value. It’s targeted and constant, constant, constant, and though it costs far more than a print ad … it’s far, far less than playing in the big pool of TV anywhere else.

Despite all the cash and hours that were spent on branding in 2000, the sad reality is that the weakness of RSN lies in the brand. While product recognition is superior (“I love that local television station”), brand recognition is almost non-existent. Would a skier going from Sugarbush to Lake Tahoe make a connection that the TV content is coming from the same place? Not in a million years.

Strong in operations, weak in brand … the delivery of a partnership with Outside Magazine is music to the ears of anyone who has watched RSN struggle to find an appreciation for their true value.

The Outside Television Network, as it will become known in 2010, is the rebranding that RSN needed. Not the branding that provides a new fancy logo and orb to drop into the lower third, but a branding that jams a stake in the sand to provide direction, consistency and purpose.

At the same time, Outside will get what they need as well. Outside will gain unparalleled access to television viewers in America’s best loved outdoor destination markets. Outside will have a kick of positive news heading into a dark Christmas for many print publications

Best of all, Outside will have an outlet for their content franchise, and it’ll be the right outlet.


Wagging the Tiger

I was lucky this week. I was in meetings, in dinners, in planning sessions ... and away from the 24-hour news cycle. Had it been the opposite, I would've seen the car crash about the car crash, and learned all that there isn't to know about Tiger Woods.

Without judging the rightness or wrongness of his personal transgressions, I can say this: I'm rooting for him to win one for privacy.

I've read a fair bit of knee-jerk chatter about how his statements are too lawerly, and not PR enough. And I've seen others say that he needs to go on Oprah or Barbara or some other show and spill his guts before the world in order to make this shitstorm go away. But I couldn't disagree more.

Would Tiger's life would be better today had he given a titillating mea culpa to Larry King last Tuesday? Unlikely.

Look at the size of the media circus right now. It's galactic, and they barely have a shred of information to move on. Imagine if they had a 60 minute press conference to dive into, to parse for every hidden meaning, and to use as an excuse to dig deeper into his family and friends' lives. It'd be like pouring gasoline on a campfire. For a year.

It's true that one role of PR is to maximize media coverage. But that does not mean that every situation calls for catering to the spotlight.

Feeding red meat to scandal-ready "journalists" is not PR. It's pandering, and it weakens the cracking foundation of journalism.

Tiger may well be a total jerk, and he may be a serial philanderer. But while his personal life is none of my business, advocating for a healthy media culture certainly is.

Somewhere, someday, somebody is going to stare down the paparazzi media culture and win. I hope I'm there to see it.


First day with a helmet cam

What Waitsfield wants

Here's a "word cloud" based on the comments attached to the recent Waitsfield town survey.... it's an interesting gauge of what people in a small Vermont town are interested in.

I (heart) darkness

According to the weather guy, there will be 23.5 hours of darkness in Vermont today. I checked.

The darkness will provide a wonderful backdrop for watching the meteor shower, and if you haven't seen one of these before, it's kind of like being visited by the ghost of 1990s Christmas Past bearing a huge black velvet Magic Eye poster ("I saw it! I saw it! It's a shark!).

Being ensconced (SAT word, 4 points) by blackness is also great for

a) ignoring late season yardwork;
b) blowing off your daily run;
c) falling asleep in your kid's bed at 7:45 pm;
d) all of the above.

During an imaginary interview with Katie Couric about my non-existent tell-all autobiography ("Open, for the Right Price"), I had a hard time answering her penetrating inquisition: "what's your favorite part of November?"

Was it the weekends full of freezing rain? The guaranteed overeating and family-inspired binge-ing of Thanksgiving? The need to wear blaze orange in my backyard so I don't take a shell through my fleshy parts? No, no ... I tell Katie as I pantomime a pat on her on her head and try not to get freaked out by her tiny little hands .... it's the darkness.

Nothing makes a gray day look brighter than bookends of pure, dripping blackness, and riding the cruiser to the mailbox at 3:45 pm is so much more exciting when you wonder if you'll be flattened in the darkness by a speeding UPS van.

For some reason, I always think of Icelanders at this time of year. Apparently, they embrace the darkness like no other nation, setting up brilliant holiday lighting displays and enjoying the aurora borealis from their luxurious lagoons of naturally steaming hot water. They embody a positive spirit year-round, and they are an inspiration to us all (editor's note: Icelanders also lead the modern world in alcohol "enjoyment", the lowest age for losing your virginity, and web traffic at Overstock.com).

How do I love the darkness? Let me count the ways.

OK, I'm thinking. Wait. Here it comes.

Can I get back to you on that?


Death, taxes and John Cusack

There are three things you can count on in this world: death, taxes, and the fact that nobody gets rained on like John Cusack.

As we head into stick season in the Northeast, rain season in the Northwest, and DUI season in the Rocky Mountains, you should be prepared with all the rain-friendly gear you can find for the nasty days of November ahead.

All these beauties come with the official Wicked Outdoorsy stamp of approval -- meaning that they've been personally tested and verified in raining-so-hard-I-wouldn't-even-know-if-I-wet-my-pants conditions.

* The Firetrail Winter, from Ahnu Footwear (LINK) ... A Vibram-soled four season trail runner from the Bay Area innovators, the Firetrail Winter is made with hydrophobic mesh, meaning that unless you're standing in a puddle, your toes will stay nice & toasty. Hydrophobic mesh is a huge step up (no pun intended) from waterproof bootie construction that essentially wraps your foot in a plastic bag. Ickie sweaty, if you know what I mean. ($120).

* The Wet/Dry Backpack, from Aquapac (LINK) ... First introduced in a limited-edition test run, the Wet/Dry Backpack comes with my highest personal recommendation. I dig the urban black exterior as well as the internal "dry" sleeve that's the perfect size for my MacBook. But what I really dig is how the thing carries close to your back. The ultimate commuter pack, in my opinion. ($85).

* The Superlight Insulated Jacket from Simms Fishing Products (LINK) ... Yes, I know, this is not a rain shell. It's a LAYERING PIECE. I love it because when I need some synthetic warmth underneath a shell, this is the way to go. It fits under anything, and the Simms designers say it best: "there's no bad weather, only bad gear." ($150).

* The Buffalo Check Shirt, from Woolrich (LINK) ... When I was ripping down chicken wire in the rain last weekend, this was the obvious choice. When I went into the thick and thorny northern forest for an October exploration, this was the obvious choice. And when I do anything where the physical terrain is just as nasty as the weather, this will continue to be the obvious choice. It's wool, it's durable, and it's warm. Damn warm. ($85).


The nasty

There are two kinds of days in Vermont.

There's the ridiculously good kind -- autumn days of explosive color and optimism, staggering lake-effect blizzards, and lazy midsummer days when living barefoot next to the river starts to seem like a really good idea. And on those good days, it's hard to believe that ten million people don't live here, pushing eachother aside to get their own slice of paradise.

But then, there are the nasty ones.

Full of raw cold that splits your fingers, razor sharp rain that makes "waterproof breathable" seem like a pathetic, sick joke, and a remorseless wind that could give a rat's ass about shattering your fenceline and uprooting your pretty little trees.

The nasty is out there right now. Drumming on the roof, whistling and taunting through the leaky windowpane, and making me altogether wistful for a chance to lockdown in front of a world series game and watch somebody else deal with the weather for a few hours.

The weird thing about the nasty -- for me and for most of the other loonies who call this place their home -- is that we love it. We love the unpredictability of it, the force of it, and the not-so-gentle reminder that our group of silly little humans are just passing through.

I'm comforted by the fact the nasty is out there today, of all days. It's a "day of action," after all.

And what better way to celebrate the ideas of a soft-spoken, funny looking Vermont professor, than by getting bashed around by a raw Vermont day.

VERMONT 350 Links:
Waitsfield: 350 Dance Party @ Big Picture Theater
Burlington: 350 Dance Party @ Higher Ground
Burlington: Starline Rhythm Boys, Bike Recycle Vermont Benefit & 350 party
350 Vermont Twitter


Pale Morning Media expands with satellite office in Portland, Maine

Outdoor industry veteran Michael Collin named director of Pale Morning Media-EAST

WAITSFIELD, VERMONT (October 5, 2009) – Pale Morning Media LLC, a public relations and creative communications agency specializing in the outdoor world, this week opened an expansion office in Portland, Maine.

Known as Pale Morning Media-EAST, the new office will be overseen by Michael Collin, a veteran of outdoor industry marketing. Most recently, Collin worked as U.S. brand manager for KJUS Skiwear.

“I have a huge place in my heart for Portland, both personally and professionally,” said Drew Simmons, Pale Morning Media president. “There’s a healthy, wild spirit in Maine – from the spectacular coast to the amazingly pristine interior – and I’m thrilled to have an excuse to spend more time there...."

LINK: Pale Morning Media expands to Maine, full story


Snowboarding with Hitler

Key fobs!

It stores your keys so you don't lose them!

It keeps your keys in a single place so that you know where to find them!

You can put a whole ring of keys on it!

Keys go on. They don't come off!

Key fobs!

Key fobs have cured the epidemic of lost keys in this country!

Key fobs have responded to the need for key safety and key security!

"Honey, have you seen my keys?" .... "Yes, they're on your fob, honey!"

Key fobs!

Key fobs are green!

Key fobs are sustainable!

Key fob innovations come from our work with the US Special Forces!

No fobs were harmed in the creation of this product!

Key fobs!

Key fobs are great for backpacks and tents!

Key fobs are great for ski jackets and ski pants!

Key fobs are great for fanny packs and stadium blankets!

Key fobs!

Key fobs are integrated!

Key fobs are detachable!

Key fobs are the innovation that everyone needs!

Key fobs!

Key fobs are coming soon for Nordic walking gear!

Key fobs are coming soon for stand up paddleboarding!

Key fobs are coming soon for lightly salted, high potassium energy snacks!

Key fobs!


FlyFishing Retailer to leave Denver?

Editor's note: Please see the comments section for notes and clarifications.

What were the highlights from FlyFishing Retailer 2009?

1. Deneki Outdoors "from the floor" blog posts
2. The self-sacrificing mosquito testers in the Simms booth.
3. The Drake Fly Fishing Movie Awards
4. Leaving Denver.

There's a lot of optimism at the 2010 Fly Fishing Retailer show. Unfortunately for Denver, that optimism is going to Salt Lake City.

The announcement came yesterday morning at the AFFTA breakfast prior to the show opening. It was based on the recommendation of the AFFTA board, which at this point is practically the whole exhibitor list for the show. The phrase "the industry is at a crossroad" came up a couple times, and I suppose that's true if you consider a four-way stop with two dead ends a crossroad.

There's good energy at FFR, don't get me wrong. But that good energy is coming from the same place as always: from a handful of fired-up exhibitors, from a few outfitters who don't just love to fish, and from Tom Bie. Other than that, the show is a graveyard.

There's a lot of cement showing at the FFR show this year, due to shrinking exhibitor numbers as well as shrinking booth space. Thank God for casting ponds.

There are also a lot of curtains, which can be directly attributed to the conspicuous absence of Orvis (allegedly, they were planning to exhibit in a hotel ballroom across the street ... and allegedly, they moved into a convention center conference room in half-hearted last minute show of industry "solidarity").

But according to the powers that be, FFR attendance figures are approximately the same as last year ... and the year before, and the year before ... an unarguable fact that isn't necessarily good news.

The current plan is to fold FFR into the Outdoor Retailer show, which is a worthy goal. Even though Kenji (the show director for both FFR and OR) raised his eyebrows and tried to convince me that it'll be a challenge to fold the fly world into the Salt Palace, I'm not convinced it'll be that hard. Not just because of the recent exodus of paddlesports companies from OR, but because the tiny FFR roster could legitimately fit in the lobby of a Holiday Inn Express.

Which brings up a decent point ... instead of trying to make the fly fishing industry bigger ... why not make it smaller? Why not make it an elite few instead of a straggly crowd? Why not take it to a new town every year, showcasing the industry's finest in fish-crazy places like Bozeman or Portland or Burlington?

Don't get me wrong, I'm in favor of the fly show leaving Denver behind. I think blending with some new faces will do good things for specialty fly business. And I think that Denver never really provided enough sizzle to motivate the industry.

So ... what we have is a tiny, aging group of passionate sporting enthusiasts who have come to a consensus that Denver is a poor choice for their trade show.

Just in time


Make love to the mountain, Captain Kirk style

Thanks to the American Alpine Institute for this gem. Definitely hit their website for the full Shatner interview.

LINK: American Alpine Institute

In case you were wondering .... Vermont's share of the pie

Just got this in my in box:

"The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 will provide stimulus money to many different sectors, including state and local governments. Specifically, Vermont will receive over $700M in recovery and stimulus funds for several areas, including energy efficiency and renewable energy. These funds will be used to position our state to reduce the costs and consumption of energy through two separate US Department of Energy programs: the State Energy Program (SEP) and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG). The US Department of Energy has released a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for the EECBG Program. The Program’s purposes are to stimulate the economy and to create and retain jobs.

As this is a “formula grant” through the US Department of Energy, allocations to the state of Vermont pre-determined by several factors, including population. Through the EECBG, Vermont communities will also receive the following allocation:

State of Vermont: $10,323,300
State Energy Office (DPS): $9,593,500
Bennington: $57,900
Brattleboro: $56,100
Burlington: $180,200
Colchester: $71,200
Essex: $50,000
Essex Junction: $50,000
Hartford: $50,000
Milton: $50,000
Rutland: $78,900
South Burlington: $85,500

The EECBG instructions require at least 60% of the funds allocated to the State Energy Office to be allocated to the counties, towns and cities that did not receive a formula allocation, or $5.7 million. These funds will be administered through the Clean Energy Development Fund through a competitive process ...."


Big time paddle news


Flagship paddling brand returns to prominence with fresh focus
on core market, community and experience

FREEPORT, MAINE (July 21, 2009) – Breathing new life into a 50-year-old flagship paddling brand, a group of outdoor and paddlesports industry veterans today announced the acquisition of Lincoln Canoe & Kayak.

The ownership group is led by Marc Bourgoin, a 20-year paddlesports professional with experience at all levels of the industry: as a guide, as a business owner, and most recently as a sales representative for Northeast Outdoor Sports, which exclusive supports Johnson Outdoors.

The group also includes Ponch Membreno, a 15-year outdoor retail specialist whose experience includes design and management of retail operations for Patagonia (Freeport; New York City) and Horny Toad (Freeport); as well as Ron Bourgoin, who brings two decades of logistics and operations expertise to the team.

The new owners will take control of Lincoln’s manufacturing facility and retail showroom in Freeport, effective immediately.

“As a group, we want to resurrect the historically powerful Lincoln brand with new personality, new energy and new ideas,” said Bourgoin. “And personally, what’s driving me is a desire to get back to the core of paddling. I want to raise my family as part of the outdoor culture, not part of corporate America.”

Founded in 1959, Lincoln Canoe & Kayak’s current lineup includes eight different canoes, nine different kayaks, and more than a little bit of history. Lincoln’s current brand recognition is fueled in large part by their location, a spot on the high visibility Freeport corridor, a premier retail district that sees more than 6 million visitors each year.

The ownership group got its own start in the early 1990s, when Bourgoin and Membreno shared the guiding duties of a Chewonki Foundation “leader training trip” in Maine’s Bigelow range, and dreamed of one day co-owning their own paddle brand.

“What we share as a group is a foundation of paddlesport experiences with a direct link to education,” said Bourgoin. “To create a sustainable client base, there has to be something more meaningful than just healthy margins: it’s got to be about the experience.”

The new owners’ distinct vision for Lincoln begins with a return of brand focus to the core audience: regional paddlers seeking both quality and community.

While one primary tool for strengthening community will be an interactive, user-friendly showroom in Freeport; the other will be the incorporation into Lincoln of Compass Road Expeditions, a domestic and international paddling guide service founded by Bourgoin in 1997.

“My connection to the sport has always been through guiding and always been through teaching. I‘ve experienced first hand the power of sharing the natural world with people, and there’s no doubt that it can change lives,” said Bourgoin. “It’s all about getting on the water.”

With their 100% made-in-Maine manufacturing facility, Lincoln is certain to appeal to consumers seeking locally made product.

It’s also expected to appeal to national retailers at a time when large brands are increasingly reliant on consolidation and offshore manufacturing – and small, high-quality regional brands are rising in prominence.

“A lot of people are looking at the paddlesports industry and wondering ‘where do we go from here?’“ said Bourgoin. “The quality of the product, the community around the brand, the experience of paddling – all those things are being lost at the expense of higher profit margins. We’re going to change that.”



ORSM: When the conversation ends

Top Ten Questions You’ll Hear at Outdoor Retailer:

10 How’s business?
9. How’s business?
8 How’s business?
7. How’s business?
6 How’s business?
5. How’s business?
4 How’s business?
3 How’s business?
2 How’s business?
1. Where’s the bar?

The key to a successful Outdoor Retailer … or any trade show, for that matter … is knowing what your conversation is going to be.

Regardless of tenure or status, the thread of tradeshow conversation is the pathway to the heart of your brand.

In other words, what you choose to talk about in a place full of people talking is more than just a reflection of your reputation and raison d’etre. It’s the chili on your hot dog.

And if you don’t know what to put on that dog … trust me, it’s going to be a long show.

Once upon a time in the pre-grunge 90s, I set super specific goals for tradeshows. Stuff like “who I want to meet,” and “what I want to achieve with those people.”

But the downside of hyperlocal goals is that they’re reactive. They depend on things far outside of the realm of your mojo: stuff like missed air connections or the swine flu or a last minute decision to “not attend the show because I want to spend more time with my family.”

And when you’ve failed to achieve your goal at the biggest industry event of the year because some dude was out too late at Burt's Tiki Lounge, it can be a long flight home.

Besides, one of the greatest parts of OR are the surprise special guests that you never in a million years would've put on your pre-show goals.

So, I changed my trade show thinking -- and my results -- by focusing on what I could control. Namely, I started focusing on what I was talking about ... what I wanted to say, how I wanted to say it, and the type of people I wanted to say it to.

A trade show is the ultimate cocktail party, one that starts early, ends late, and follows you wherever you go. To reap the many benefits available to you at a trade event, you’ve got to be able to make the most of the crowd. You’ve got to know when to talk, what to say, and -- perhaps most importantly -- when to shut up (insert cheesy Kenny Rogers sing-along ballad here).

See you in SLC.


ORSM 09: The unauthorized happy hour list

MONDAY / July 20

5 pm Junior's Tavern 30 E 300 S.
World’s Worst PR Event
Worse than you think

TUESDAY / July 21

4 pm
Runner's World #32148.
"Catch up with other endurance sports insiders."
Tan and tanner.

4 pm
Bridgedale Booth #24033
"Heft a pint of tasty Irish brew ...to celebrate its 100 year sock making heritage."
Socks and beer! Socks and beer!

Osprey #6027.
“35th anniversary party"
That would be the coral/jade anniversary.

Arc'teryx #1021.
Drink and browse through stuff you can’t afford.

5 pm
OIA #56000
Outdoor University Launch Party & Raffle. Wine, snacks, prizes.
Yes, wine.

5 pm
Smith Optics, #?
"We're just having a keg."
Get there before Chopper gets to it.

5 pm
Marmot #34037.
Benefit for the Access Fund.

6 pm
OR Industry Party on Pierpont.
Performance by Gibbon Slackline Pro Team. Also featuring flip cup tourney & dodgeball Held separately, I hope.

Rumors of a Native Eyewear party on the "Shilo Inn roof after the climbing thing."


4:00 pm
In the Camelbak "hydrolab". Booth 15027.
Always drinking, never hydrating.

4:00 pm
Deuter, Booth #12001.

4:00 pm
FabricLink Textile Networking Happy Hour. #MR155.
"Make new contacts! Discuss product development concepts!”
When do we go to White Castle?

4:30 pm
Oboz #BR403.
"Drink Squatters Organic Amber, plant trees."
Not sure how the cause-and-effect relationship works there, but I’m certainly willing to try.

4:30 pm
KOR Water Bottles #73.
Win backstage passes for Sonic Youth, Jack Penate & Jarvis Cocker.
If I had a dime for every male flight attendant who’s complimented my Kor bottle …

4:30 pm
Clif Bar, Booth ?
Celebrating 1% for the Planet.
For the record, “2% for the Planet” is MY IDEA.

5 pm
Petzl Pizza & Beer.
30 Pizzas from Miguel’s in the Red River Gorge.
Spot the climbers in the crowd … they’ll be the ones holding a beer and eating pizza.

5 pm
Smith Optics, #?
"I think we're having (a keg) Wednesday too."
Where the beer flows like wine.

5 pm
Nemo, Booth ?

6 pm
Caffe Molise, 55 West 100 South.
Conservation Alliance 20th anniversary event. Featuring “debut performance of Outdoor Industry All-Star Band.”
How much of a donation do we have to give to make them stop?

5:00 pm
Arc'teryx #1021.
Drink beer and try to guess the names of their new jacket colors.

THURSDAY / July 23

Ahnu Footwear 29167w
"Make it Count" Award Ceremony with mountain bike giveaway.
The first keg of the day is always the best.

4 pm
Aquapac 39139
“British Themed Happy Hour” includes chance to win framed prints from “Wild Image Project” photog Daniel Fox as well as a 6-day sea kayaking trip. Must be present to win.
Consider yourself lucky. We were going to have a breath holding contest.

Carve Designs, #37163.
Surfboard giveaway.

6 pm
The Hotel.
Trail Runner happy hour.