Why I Buy: The Gear Whore With A Big Mouth Speaks

At the last OR Winter Market, we were sitting in the audience of Sara Lingafelter’s “Understanding Influencers” presentation when the most outstanding quote about “Why I Buy” came up for discussion. As it turns out, it was from one of our tweeps, Aleya Littleton. Well, one thing led to another and we’ll just let Aleya tell you all about it, here in her addition to our continuing series,”Why I Buy…

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I may have gotten myself into trouble.

I replied to a survey in which I was asked what I’d say if I were in a room full of outdoor industry representatives, hanging on my every word. Of course this being a hypothetical situation meant I could really let them have it, without being nervous, and so I did. I ranted, and it resonated. I was quoted in a power point (Whole and great presentation here) and then asked to write this article on why I buy. My survey response was typed by fingers swift with righteous indignation, not so much with a ton of thought. I thought I’d have a hard time getting back into the same mood and mindset, but as it turns out, I have things left to say to this imaginary room of retailers. I’ve been unleashed. I might be hard to stop…

Get to know me.

Hi, my name is Aleya. I have five technical packs, four harnesses, three Camelbaks, two helmets and only one camp stove, though I’ve owned three so far. I love straps and buckles and pockets. Things to put things in: that’s my particular obsession. It’s genetic; my dad is the same way. I browse for hours. I touch everything. I love colors, coordinating ones especially. I love reading reviews and visiting climbing/camping/hiking websites. I beat my gear into submission, preferring the look of “loved” equipment to the nooby feel of fresh toys, but I still love inhaling that new-gear smell. I learn by watching, and by carefully gathering information before making my decision to buy a product.

Once I make my decision, I’m proud of it. I brag. I LOVE my gear. And I’m loud. I’ve never been described as shy or introverted. It’s these qualities that have gotten me a reputation in my circle, and that reputation is important to me. My friends and relatives ask me about gear, and I do my best to pass on the information. I frequently pass on information without being asked, just because I’m excited. I blog, I tweet, I update statuses interweb-wide. I have a big mouth. I don’t just talk about gear though, I blog to inspire people to act and to love, using the outdoors as a medium for a healthy and full life. Even if my words just plant a seed, that means there is potential for it to take root and help some else grow and change their life for the better. I love writing, and I love the voice that writing about my passion has given me.

Why I buy.

“Why do you buy?” might not be the best question to ask me. I buy because I love and need gear. I’ve grown past buying gear because it makes me look badass, or elite. Wearing the Prada of the outdoor world doesn’t appeal to me. Now that I have a grown up job, neither does the cheapest item on the rack. Price is still a consideration, but more importantly, I will spend more and commit to a brand when I find one that represents me. Maybe a better question is “Why do I buy from you?” I buy from you because you’ve taken the time to get to know me and what I stand for. You recognize that my word is valuable, and that my passion for the tools that enable me to do what I love is free and at your disposal. When I recommend your brand my reputation is on the line. Why would I want to associate myself with a brand or store that is unfriendly, or ignores me? I listen, and so you should listen. I am involved in my community and volunteer during crag clean ups, and national park days. You should be involved in the same. Images of pro athletes doing amazing things are awesome, but what about normal people? Summiting Seneca Rocks for the first time was a huge accomplishment for me. I celebrated, and so should you. Make me part of your family and I will be your biggest advocate.

With technology giving me every choice imaginable, your competition is tough. In the midst of brands that are so focused on selling that they forget that the people who buy are what matter, you stand apart by becoming part of my community. I choose you because you notice me and value what I say. And I’m not the only one with a loud voice. I’m not the only blogger, tweep, traveling climber, networking hobbyist and neighborhood gear authority. We are your best resource. Get to know us.

Why do I buy from you? I buy because you know me.

And in case you were wondering, here is the original quote:

“Get to know me! I’m your biggest fan, I’m a gear whore with a big mouth. I’ll sell your stuff for you for free if you make me feel like family (and assuming the gear isn’t crap.) I’ve gotten to the place where I don’t really care where my gear comes from as long as it works, and so many brands have good gear that works. I choose you because you represent what I stand for as an outdoor fanatic and as a person. If you only care about selling, then I tend to stay away. I want to align my self with brands that give back too. Your image is important, and so is mine. I want a down to earth relationship with the makers of the things that keep me safe and let me do what I love. So get to know me. I know you well enough already.”

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Aleya Littleton is a self-diagnosed gear addict and migrant teacher specializing in science, climbing, and moving at the drop of a hat. Right now she works at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, but turned in her notice last month so she can move to the west coast in the spring of 2011 and merge her passion for teaching with her love of the great outdoors. She’d also like you to know that she’s looking for a job, so you should email her if you have any ideas. In the past year she began leading trad, climbed Devils Tower, won $10,000 and then gave it all away. She tweets as @AleyaJean and blogs at www.rockandsky.com

 

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