Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 15
Even though Zoom fatigue is now a reality,
video conferences are still the safest and most
effective way to connect. Gordon Wright, president of Outside PR, says in-person events are
off the table for his company until the world
vaccination rate reaches a minimum of 70%.
" June is likely the very earliest under consideration, and that's looking like a stretch, " he says.
Outside PR joined Echos Communication
in May 2020 to host the first REVEAL Global
Media Conference, a series of events designed to connect brands with writers and
journalists. It was their way of fostering faceto-face time and updating important media
about their clients. A third conference is
slated for March.
It also became clear to more companies that
working from home is possible and advantageous, and many are rethinking their WFH
policies. In September 2020, REI sold its new
8-acre headquarters in Bellevue, Washington,
to Facebook for nearly $368 million. " We've
been expanding our mobile work capabilities
for the past several years in preparation for our
planned headquarters move, " wrote REI CEO
Eric Artz in a public letter. " Our progress was
accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic-
we learned that the more distributed way of
working we previously thought untenable will
instead unlock incredible potential. "
Remote work culture will continue to be a
more normalized and acceptable model for
companies. Flylow co-founder Dan Abrams,
who has spent the entirety of his outdoor industry tenure in a home office, says the shift
validated that his working style is effective and
more meaningful when his team is spread out.
Fjällräven also expects to relax its remotework policies. CEO Nathan Dopp says the
flexibility opens up its workforce, even to other
countries as a global brand.
Dopp believes the industry's approach to
sick time will also change. His priority will
be the health of employees. " I'm a classic
American workaholic type who, sick or not
sick, went to the office, " Dopp says. " I assume
those days are long gone. If I see someone after
COVID-19 coming to the office sick, I'm going
to say, what are you doing here? "
" I'M A CLASSIC AMERICAN WORKAHOLIC TYPE WHO,
SICK OR NOT SICK, WENT TO THE OFFICE. I ASSUME
THOSE DAYS ARE LONG GONE. " -NATHAN DOPP, FJÄLLRÄVEN CEO
IN THE FIELD AND IN STORES
For some outdoor companies-including
guides and retailers-working from home
will never be an option, but some of the health
guidelines they implemented during the pandemic are here to stay. Jason Martin, executive
director of American Alpine Institute (AAI)
in Bellingham, Washington, says the organization has always upheld strict guidelines for
illnesses since a minor cold at altitude can impact an entire Denali team and trip.
If someone got sick, they could opt to leave and
make a claim with travel insurance. These days,
they're sent home with a credit for the remainder of the trip. Martin says it's a financial burden
to send someone home for illness, but trips last
summer were healthier than ever before.
AAI's guides have also started carrying bag
valve masks-self-inflating bags that provide
ventilation to people having trouble breathing. " We'll keep carrying those after the pandemic to increase guide security, " Martin says.
Much like guides, retailers have felt the
sting of shutdowns. Jahmicah Dawes, owner
of Slim Pickins Outfitters in Stephenville,
Texas, closed for the executive order and then
again for a 14-day quarantine after his family
was exposed to COVID-19. He's hopeful that
his community will show up in droves once the
shop is able to operate fully again.
" We're eager for it, " Dawes says. " We thrive
off having people in the store, not just because
hopefully it turns into sales, but we thrive off
the interaction. Hopefully what those interactions turn into are future outdoor enthusiasts
and conservationists. "
Segments of the outdoor industry have soared
dring the pandemic. Bikes, kayaks, camping
and backcountry equipment, and other gear
sold out. Walking and running the neighborhood became as trendy as it was necessary.
Campsites filled up.
Wayfarer Vans, based in Colorado Springs
tripled its employees from 7 to 20 and opened
a new site in Reno, Nevada, to accommodate
the growth. The van-conversion company was
closed for two months, but made up revenue
the rest of the year due to demand, says Katie
Branham, who oversees marketing and communications for the five-year-old business.
" We've had to grow in a lot of ways that we
would've grown anyway, regardless of the pandemic, but I think the demand of the past year
has helped accelerate our growth, " she says.
It's a swell she anticipates will keep up, not just
during spring and summer, but also in fall and
winter to make it a year-round business.
Industry longtimer Rowell has experienced
similar spikes in gear sales before-like during
the '90s dot-com bubble burst and the 2008
real estate collapse. But this surge stands out
to him. It's less expensive to get outside, but
there's also the safety factor. " I think the people
who camped for the first time or were reestablished as campers are going to do it again,
and they're going to tell their neighbors or
friends or family that it was awesome, " he says.
" There's going to be another explosive growth
coming with a second wave of participants. "
With that comes the responsibility to educate and warmly welcome newcomers. Kelty,
like many outdoor companies, launched educational videos this year. Wayfarer Vans aided
new campers through an app and Facebook
group. Fjällräven saw an increase in engagement from newbies at its first-ever digital
version of its Classic trekking event because
people were able to dip their toe in without
committing to a long hike.
The outdoors became a sanctuary for more
people-not just a hobby but a lifestyle. The
industry will lean into that, regardless of the
timeline of the pandemic's end.
" I think it's the nature of us in the outdoor
industry to be optimistic, right? " Fjällräven's
Dopp says. " If any industry can come out of
this stronger and better, I think we're well
poised for it. " O.R.
February 2021/ OUTDOOR RETAILER 15
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Outdoor Retailer - February 2021
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021
THE WEEKLY CHAT
OUTDOOR RETAILER WINTER ONLINE
BREAD + BUTTER
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - Outdoor Retailer - February 2021
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - Cover2
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 3
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - CONTENTS
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 5
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 6
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - THE PULSE
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - HEADLINES
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 9
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 10
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 11
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - BIG PICTURE
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 13
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - CASE STUDY
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 15
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - IDEAS
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - THOUGHT LEADER
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - THE WEEKLY CHAT
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - OUTDOOR RETAILER WINTER ONLINE
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 20
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 21
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - SIZE MATTERS
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 23
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 24
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 25
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - BREAD + BUTTER
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 27
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - GEAR GALLERY
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 29
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 30
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 31
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - HOT PICKS
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 33
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 34
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - COUNTER CULTURE
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - THE VIEW
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 37
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 38
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - 39
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - FIELD NOTES
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - #SHOPLIFE
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - BACKSTORY
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - Cover3
Outdoor Retailer - February 2021 - Cover4