Author Archives: Brad Werntz


“Showrooms Are Standing By!”

Offering for your consideration: Tip #2, which is written into the fit guidelines of a site that sells discounted eyewear called…

Showrooming Defined

Not sure about this, but a business plan that starts with “First, we kill brick and mortar” doesn’t sound very viable if you’re not doing anything very innovative online. We’ll see.


Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory

It’s 2014 and we now live in the world after Willy Wonka created the Wonkavision.  Today, at any time of the day or night, people can reach into the glowing screen in front of them and grab whatever they want. Today, the distance between a consumer and a vendor is now about the length of an average arm. 

With eBay offering same-day deliveries in many urban markets, and Amazon promising that within the next five years anything with a barcode will be available for delivery anywhere in North America within 24 hours, we’re already not far off from the promise of Mr. Wonka’s invention. Add to that Amazon’s vision of aerial drone delivery (something that is apparently already well on its way to being reality in Australia), or that Google may be developing driverless delivery vehicles, and the idea of beaming products across television waves doesn’t seem that far-fetched.

The Wonkavision is here. But we haven’t seen anything yet.

The next generation of 3D printers will change everything, even dinner. Commercial Makerspaces have the potential to do so, as well. Boutique micro-manufacturers close to home will be able to make just about anything that you want, and deliver it to your door within a very tight time frame.

Hyper-customization is coming on in a big way. Major companies like Levis and Nike have embraced it, and small companies like Timbuk2 have been good at it for a long time. You can get custom, hand-built wheels for your bike from QBP, and – for that matter – you can get a custom-painted bike built to your exact specifications from Trek. As consumers get more and more used to buying items that are customized for them, they will demand it more as well. And timeframes for custom items will shorten dramatically.

It goes without saying but we may as well say it anyway: These initiatives are primarily direct-to-consumer.

It’s time to examine the idea that business models that have existed in that space between a brand and a consumer – we’re talking retailers of all sizes, independent reps, PR, advertising, and media (among many others) –  increasingly may just be in the way. The question everybody in these niches needs to ask daily is: “How do we add value now that the Wonkavision has been invented?” 

Because it’s here.

Is the Wonkavision the end of the world for specialty retail? No, not hardly. But it’s the end of the world as we know it.

We are living in a time of ongoing disruption. The new normal will be constant change. Get comfortable with this idea, and learn to thrive on it.

It’s 2014. Get on it.

Happy Birthday, PEMBA!

Today is our twenty-first birthday here at PEMBA. We’re now officially old enough to drink.

Think on that.

It’s been a long time since I stared at the ceiling of our base camp tent in Alaska as the snow buried it from outside, sketching out the idea that would become PEMBAserves. Those years, I  spent four to six weeks every summer climbing, and for several consecutive summers we went to Alaska to go up anything and everything that was in condition. It was a good life.

In those days, I worked part-time at Erehwon in Chicago and Madison, and supplemented that income as a free-lancer for Outside Magazine, Climbing, Rock&Ice, and a number of other publications. For Erehwon, I ran their newsletter and their marketing out-reach projects. I originally thought that PEMBA would do this same thing for different stores across the country, but then the phone rang. Continue reading

Quarante: The 2012 OR Winter Market

Skiing in support of the Big City Mountaineers, aprés Outdoor Retailer.

This OR Winter Market was my fortieth Outdoor Industry tradeshow. I began going to the shows in the summer of 1991 (that year it was in Reno), and I’ve been at almost every one since. I missed one after having a serious bike wreck on the day before I was supposed to leave for the show.

So this was number “40,” for me, or “quarante” as they say in French. That’s a nice round number that makes me think. Continue reading

A Million Miles From Monday

This past weekend I did something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. My wife and I packed up a big load of camping gear, grabbed the kids, and headed out to a nearby park to do some car-camping with some friends.

Only, we left the car at home. Yep, we went car-camping without the car.

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Opportunities: We Are Too Damn Old

Do me a favor: Look at this picture and strip out all that you know about who’s in it. Just for one second, look for WHAT is in the picture, and not WHO.

As a random individual, THIS is the face of the Outdoor Industry: He’s 45, male, makes a certain amount, has three kids, is married.

He’s our customer, he runs our companies, works in our retail stores. We see him at the crags, on the bike and running trails, on the slopes, and in the backcountry. He’s at the beach, in the mountains, and everywhere in between. As a slice of who and what we are, THIS is that guy.

What’s wrong with this picture? I’ll tell you: This guy is too damn old to be the Average Active American.

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What Wisconsin Means For #OIBIZ

This is What Democracy Looks Like

I imagine that most of you have heard at least something about what’s been going on here in Wisconsin. I’ll spare you the details and the commentary. It’s a highly charged political situation, and we’re (trying hard to be) not about politics, here. If you’re interested in what’s really going on, friend me on Facebook for updates in real time. My posts have my own bias of course, but the national news isn’t covering what’s really happening.

I’ll just leave it at that.

Why I’m writing today: There’s something important happening here for us in #OIBIZ, too. We need to be very aware of how our industry can be caught up in similar challenges, very quickly. The situation here in Wisconsin could be repeated, and – I’m guessing – likely will be.

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#ORshow Winter 2011: The Dragonfly Effect

Shortly after I arrived in Salt Lake for the 2011 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market last week, a friend of mine – Devaki Murch – handed me a magazine and said: “Read this.” For those of you who know Devaki – who has on more than one occasion been described as a “force of nature” – there’s really no other answer to this than,”Okay, I will.”

I mean, the alternative is just too frightening.

So I dutifully put the thick journal – the Stanford Social Innovation Review, of all things – in my bag and filed it away for later. As I put it in my bag, I noticed the title: “The Dragonfly Effect.” It was to be a busy week, and I wanted to give this article my full attention. I finally read it last night.

But more on that in a minute. Let’s talk about the #ORshow (as it’s hash-tagged on Twitter.) Many of you weren’t there, so let’s recap: Continue reading

Opportunities: Mea Culpa, Yet Let’s Get More Women Outdoors

Chicks Sighting at Ouray Ice Fest 2011 - Photo Courtesy Amy Jurries

We’re starting out Monday morning here in Madison with an apology – and a shout-out – to our colleagues and friends out at the Ouray Ice Park.

First the shout-out: We heard great things about the 16th Annual Ouray Ice Fest. You folks work your butt off to pull off this massive event, and it’s appreciated by those who attend, and vicariously by those who don’t. Thank you, so much.

Now, the apology: We went off half-cocked late last week upset about something that we misunderstood about the Ouray Ice Fest Competition. We owe Bill Whitt and the rest of the crew in Ouray a sincere apology for not getting the facts before we dove in with both feet. We’re really sorry that we added stress, drama, and intrigue on the eve of an event that’s already stressful, drama-filled, and intriguing (in all the best ways – but that’s still challenging.) Y’all didn’t need that and we hope you’ll forgive us.

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It’s 2011: Who Are You? Why Are You Here?

Good morning.

It’s 2011. You’re ready, right?

Well, that’s all right. Today is a holiday, tomorrow is Sunday, so you got a couple of days.

Today – on New Year’s Day – there are only two questions you need to answer:

Who am I?

Why am I here?

Wait, wait, wait: There’s no need for an existential crisis, so put down the phone; your spiritual advisor will still be there on Monday.

We’re here today to talk about business. Specifically, business in the outdoor industry – #OIBIZ, for short – but some of what we’re going to talk about will probably have general application, also. And – come to think of it – you may want to book time with your spiritual advisor on Monday. We’re gonna go deep.

Here goes…

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