Outdoor Retailer - July 2021 - 14

THE PULSE
BIG PICTURE
Live Your Dream
The pandemic has brought a wide range of new faces
and personalities into the outdoors. How can we help
convince them to stay? By Ben Clark
WHEN I OPENED FACEBOOK THIS MORNING, A SMILING SUMMIT PHOTO OF PROFESSIONAL
boxer Patty " Boom Boom " Alcivar beamed back at me. Glowing in contrast above her silhouette
was a flag bearing the slogan " Live your dream. " She stood on the summit of 20,320-foot
Denali, North America's highest peak. It was the last in a line of summits I witnessed her crush,
from her home base in Queens, New York, over the course of the pandemic, week by week in my
feed. She is one of many who found digital groups that celebrated the outdoors... and put it out
there while she was out there. Her progress stood out in a year that also saw Nepalese climber
Nims Dai Purja scale all 14, 8,000-meter peaks and Dawa Yangzum Sherpa scale Lhotse and
Annapurna-on their turf.
Alcivar's adventures compelled me, sparking a familiar longing that has been the gateway
to increased American outdoor activity. Holed up in the pandemic and glued to a monitor, I
traveled less and ran forested trails in Tennessee, Michigan, and then Colorado. Restrictions
and disbelief came and went. I pondered, just how accessible are adventures for which we need
specific gear? And to whom does the freedom to access those wild places belong? What discoveries
are we missing? Knowing, after 20 years of this, when all other barriers are lifted, it is still
hard work and a lot of accidental success that leads to breakthroughs.
Acclaimed Spanish runner Pau Capell competes at the highest level, but he only came to the
sport when he got an injury. During a time of great restriction, his
doctor prescribed uphill running for his recovery. " In 20 minutes
of trail running uphill, I had more fun than in 20 years of sports, " he
says. " I had not known freedom like I knew in that moment. " Many
runners, cyclists, and hikers joined our community over the pandemic
under the same need to change their fitness routines. Will
they stay?
All these community members share a passion for hard work,
but also adventure. That thread is the throughline of how our industry
thrives. The most core of brands always started with some
innovation led by training to go somewhere outside. Bigger than
our border and a convention center, it was always about making
products that elevated our experience and that built community.
You can buy a sleeping bag anywhere, but you have a choice-because
you have a purpose.
WHEN THE DOORS CLOSED ON OR IN WINTER 2020, A LOT LIKE ALCIVAR
and less extreme than the others, I had plans for scrolling thumbs over
slopers and crimps, camera dials, and shoelaces-not living vicariously
through influencers on my iPhone. There was a world of possibility,
some airfare already covered, office time in NYC, and, well, a steady flow
of work and expectations in the outdoor industry. It felt like most people
and brands were doing well financially and making room for growth,
including new markets, and assessing how to remove poverty and bar14
OUTDOOR RETAILER / July 2021
Patty Alcivar
stands atop Denali.
riers to include greater opportunities in the
outdoors for groups who were finally gaining a
voice in the room.
That excited me. We were at the start of
reconciling hastiness, building a startup
industry, of not only passing by and not turning
over the stone, but also not bringing a
friend who would see it differently-not inviting
someone new to a familiar place and
sharing it. Just weeks later, the pandemic
unfolded and all seemed momentarily undone,
and many asked, " What will we carry
to the other side? "
I hope we carry more of us forward, not
fewer. That is who we are; that is a barrier, and
that is what we do. For centuries, we were explorers
leading nations that conquered every
inch until we reached the top, the bottom, the
edge, and then we gave our attention to those
going faster, farther, and younger. We are no
longer conquesting the environment; the environment
is now conquesting us. We'll need
to be united for that, so let us hope those principles
guide us and our members old and new
to discover the answers they seek out there
and reconnect again here. O.R.
Courtesy Patty Alcivar
https://www.instagram.com/pattyboxer12/?hl=en

Outdoor Retailer - July 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Outdoor Retailer - July 2021

Outdoor Retailer - July 2021 - 1
Outdoor Retailer - July 2021 - 2
Outdoor Retailer - July 2021 - 3
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