Category Archives: #OIBIZ

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

Why I Buy? The Shiny and The Solid.

Photo: Paul-Baptiste Baca

I am a confessed gear whore.

gear whore n. someone who has to have the best, most expensive, coolest gear, useful or not.

Yes, I like the shiny and the new. And there are times when I look over my rack and I realise I am just one or two colour-coordinated draws away from being one of those sport climbers.

But really, why do I buy what I buy? Such a simple question does not have a simple answer.

I have worked in marketing and advertising for the past 20 years and have a pretty good grasp on how the artifice and casuistry of product pimping works. But that doesn’t mean I am immune. In fact, I have a high appreciation for a well-crafted advertisement and am more likely to invest at least my time into researching a product that is packaged well and peddled in just the right way to highlight its particular je ne sais quoi. Black and white sketches or flat product photos might be enough to pique some consumers’ interest, but many people really do prefer the glossy, full-colour splash of gear-in-action (me included). It’s a world of embodying the brand.

Companies like Black Diamond Equipment and Petzl know this. They don’t casually spend their advertising dollars. And retailers know what they are doing when they put those pretty products in the hands and on the backs of pretty people.

But as much as the beautiful people and shiny colours get my attention, it is not the reason I buy. Getting the customer into the store or to your website might be half the battle, but half does not make a sale.

Continue reading

Why I Buy – The Three F’s

Photo: David Morlock Photography | OWL Trip 2010

I came across The Three F’s when I first started working in the Outdoor Industry about 20 years ago. I had only been on the job for a short time and like any new staffer hungry for knowledge I was browsing through old catalogs in the break room.

In the front of an old backpack catalog some guy named “Wayne” used the concept of Fit, Fabrics and Features to walk through his product line. It was a concept that not only clarified the differences between the products in the line but also between other companies.

The Three F’s have been a great tool me. They’re a yardstick that help me decide whether or not I’m going to buy a piece of equipment or apparel and they’re a great method for comparing and understanding outdoor products.

Continue reading

Kids and the Outdoors: Make it a Family Affair

Cragmama training the next Chris Sharma

Most of my fondest childhood memories involve the outdoors in some way or another.  Whether it was running through a neighborhood meadow armed with a butterfly net and field guides, collecting worms along the lake bank with my dad before casting our fishing lines, or practicing cannonballs with my mom at the local pool, I grew up spending more hours outside than in.  Now that I have a 16 month old son of my own, my hope is to instill a love and respect for the outdoors in him the way my parents did for me.

Continue reading

Opportunities: Milwaukee’s Urban Ecology Center

As part of our ongoing series on Opportunities for #OIBIZ, today we wanted to call out somebody who is doing it right and is getting kids outdoors. To this end, check out Milwaukee’s Urban Ecology Center. These folks are awesome.


The Urban Ecology Center educates and inspires people to understand and value nature as motivation for positive change, neighborhood by neighborhood. Our Environmental Community Centers:

  • Provide outdoor science education for urban youth
  • Protect and use natural areas, making them safe, accessible and vibrant
  • Preserve and enhance these natural areas and their surrounding waters
  • Promote community by offering resources that support learning, volunteerism, stewardship, recreation, and camaraderie
  • Practice and model environmentally responsible behaviors

Continue reading

Opportunities: A Hidden Minority

Lately, we’ve been examining opportunities for #OIBIZ to be more inclusive, and to embrace greater diversity. In our minds, there’s really no reason why the demographics of the Outdoor Industry are not a micro-cosm of the population of the United States as a whole. En route to telling us how to be more aware of a vibrant part of our industry, today’s guest-post by our friend Mo Kappes takes a surprising turn. When a whole population of people don’t feel safe outdoors – when the objective hazard isn’t a bear, a fall, or an avalanche, but another person – we have a whole lot of work to do. Important things to think about, here…


When PEMBAserves asked me a few months ago to blog about my experiences as a lesbian in the outdoors, I was stumped.  What would I write about?  I can tell you what it means to be a woman in the outdoors — that’s easy.  People can see that I am a woman and treat me as such. Whether or not I am a lesbian can be more difficult to tell and, therefore, being treated differently because I am gay is much more subtle. We lesbians are a hidden minority.

As I pondered about what to write, my mind kept returning to a tragedy that occurred almost 15 years ago that has become a part of my collective memory.

Continue reading

Opportunities: Go Fish. And Take That Kid With Ya.

The outdoor industry and the fishing industry. The fact that these are two entirely different worlds has always surprised me.

If you talked to a few fish, they’d probably tell you they spend as much time as possible outdoors. As a result I’m sure that most fishermen would say the same. But nonetheless, the outdoor and fishing industries couldn’t be much more different – maintaining almost complete separation in terms of brands, retailers, tradeshows, environmental priorities, and even the participants themselves.

One thing they have in common, though, is this: they’re both facing the increasingly tough challenge of bringing new people into the fold. As participants age or wander off to other activities, how does the pipeline get replenished?

Turn off that game and go outside!

Continue reading

The Beautiful, Winding Road to the Top of Mount Rainier with Big City Mountaineers

We here at PEMBA have been talking for these past few months about Opportunities for #OIBIZ, primarily – so far – by addressing the need to helping women and kids to be more involved with the outdoors. Earlier, we posted a piece by Jeff Weidman about the Big City Mountaineers, a program that brings at-risk youth to the wilderness. It turns out that several of our friends participated in a “Summit For Someone” fund-raising effort in a climb of Mt. Rainier last summer. We asked our friend Katie Levy to tell us about what she experienced. Here’s her story…


“I know that I am a very strong person…and I may not shine on the outside like I want to, but I have a lot of powerful qualities on the inside that a lot of people wish they had, and that will take me further than anything else.”

– Timmeya Russell, 2009 BCM Trip Participant

I start each morning with a steaming cup of Yogi Tea because it’s delicious. Either that, or I’ve fallen for their marketing ploy – quotes that come attached to each tea bag. Gimmick or not, I can always count on those little pieces of advice to give me pause each morning. This morning’s tea bag quote describes exactly why I chose to climb Mount Rainier last summer to raise money for Big City Mountaineers. “Live for Something Bigger than Yourself.”

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Opportunities: For My Kids

For the past few months, we here at PEMBA have been looking at Opportunities for #OIBIZ, and we’ll continue to do so for awhile longer. Today’s guest post is by Brad’s wife Vera Naputi, a teacher with long experience in getting her students – and her own children – outdoors. Several weeks ago we heard from Jeff Weidman about the Big City Mountaineers programs. Vera’s approach is a bit more grassroots and direct, and accessible for most of us: Find a kid nearby who wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to go, and take them outside; not just once, but often. Here’s why and how she does it.


For my kids, ages 6, 7, and 15 years, getting outdoors is as natural as sleeping.  It doesn’t take much to get them outside especially when their preferred outdoor activity is playing in the local park.  For the students I teach, ages 12-13 years, they also report that playing in the park is their favorite way to get outdoors.  That is, when they’re not watching TV, playing video games, sleeping, or texting.  This isn’t surprising, but their realities should be the springboard for coming up with a real solution that can be implemented immediately – by you, and by me.

I interviewed my students (some self-described as “lazy, addicted, sleep-deprived”) and got straight to the point:  What would it take to play outdoors more often?

Continue reading