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Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2013: Best of Booth awards

Take an expanded look behind our picks for the best booth merchandising and designs at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2013, including winners Brooks, Zeal, Acorn and more.

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Outdoor Retailer Winter Market took place during a bleak weather week with a crazy inversion, an ice storm and, on the final day, fog so thick you couldn’t see across the street. But at the Salt Palace, it was a different story — bright lights, smiling faces and displays grabbed our attention and made indoors the place to be for this outdoor crowd.

On a mission to identify who would make it to the podium for Best of Booth (BOB) awards, SNEWS Merchandising Editor Robin Enright began scouring Outdoor Retailer during set-up. Attention-getters can involve one or more elements including color, movement, simplicity or a surprise. Learn which details brought us to Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2013’s BOB winners.

Best of Booth Overall: Brooks

When people phone Brooks’ headquarters, the first words they hear are: “It’s a run happy day.” That message was cleanly communicated throughout the company’s new booth at Outdoor Retailer. Brooks’ “run happy”-themed space was intended to make a big statement, and whether or not it got everyone in Salt Palace running, it sure produced a lot of smiles. Mechanized mannequins overhead were the first thing to capture our imagination, and bright, hypnotic colors drew us into the grown-up playground.

The open and inclusive brand story started with a product that’s serious, but lends itself to fun. Every detail, from an airplane mobile above reception to footwear served up on cake platters to human-legged stools, represented a variation on the theme. Messages tattooed on those stool legs were a nod to the inside jokes of runners.


The booth began the design phase in March 2012 and entered production in early December. The goal was to create a functional environment that could work at a variety of venues, even turning into a retail shop at the Boston Marathon.


According to Tawnya Komlofske, a senior account executive at Pinnacle Exhibits, sustainability was a consideration in the design, reflecting Brooks’ corporate culture. The booth template is evergreen, but it allows for seasonal updates and graphics changes to suit various geographic locations. The rubber tiled flooring was made from outsole scraps collected from the factory floor, and leftover uppers were put to use in conference room walls, seats and apparel presentation panels. Aluminum elements were made from 85 percent recycled materials and the finishes, paints and waxes used were low VOC with no off-gassing.

“It was fun, I’ll tell you that,” Komlofske said — and it shows. Bravo, Brooks!

The booth was designed and built by Pinnacle Exhibits, and was a collaboration between Peter Mannos, Brooks senior manager of retail development, and Alexander Exhibit.

Remodel BOB: Zeal
Anyone who’s hung out with the Zeal crew knows that their energy makes you want to be part of the team. The company’s new booth allowed that brand personality to shine through. According to Director of Marketing Joe Prebich, Zeal has repositioned to appeal to mid-20s to mid-30s consumers.

The company’s previous location at Outdoor Retailer was a tiny 10-by-10 booth in the hallway, but after being purchased by Maui Jim in 2010, the brand decided to “go big or go home.” The new 40-by-40 booth in the main hall was inspired by Zeal’s home office and store in Boulder, Colo. and was merchandised to enhance the Zeal active lifestyle story. Though the booth was indoors, the design had a solid outdoor feel.

Zeal operates under three pillars: ecological responsibility, social responsibility and life experience. The booth was designed to reflect all three. Notably, pine beetle kill wood was used to spotlight a significant issue in its local natural environment. Zeal also is working with Global Releaf to plant 5,480 trees in Colorado in 2013.

Designed with an eye to flow and marking an effort to match marketing with sales, the booth palette reflected the outdoors and created an inviting space. The conference room, set behind a glass-windowed garage door, added to the casual, backyard feel. Framed images of people enjoying outdoor endeavors hung on the walls, colorful throws were casually tossed in seating areas, and eyewear sat on gently backlit pine shelves. For a brand that operates under the tagline, “explore more,” we’d say the message came through loud and clear.

We can’t wait to see where this brand goes.

The booth was designed by Mike Filander, event and trade show manager, and built by Displayit.

Old/New BOB: Acorn
Acorn may have been one of the oldest booths at Outdoor Retailer with 18 years of use, but it was one of the newest as well. While the 20-by-40 space received a facelift, 70 percent recycled material from the old booth went into the redesign.

Acorn made big-punch changes with a modest budget by keeping an eye on what was most important: a contemporary palette, an airy space and room to launch its line of mittens and hats. The open front area and tower announced the brand and provided much-needed storage. Acorn’s lighter backdrop is cleaner and helps product pop while adding warmth.

Mahogany and cherry wood was covered with a lighter veneer, with original drawers and shelves reused in the interior. Acorn “romances their accessories,” according to Marketing Manager Sonya Purington, with naturally shed antlers as props and glass vases turned upside down to spotlight hats. The brand may have received a facelift, but like its original slipper socks, the booth retains its foothold of comfort.

Designed by Atmosphere and constructed by Nth Degree.

Display BOBs

Mountain Khakis

The booth has not been remodeled, but thanks to custom fixtures designed and manufactured by Chippenhook and topped with a red bison, Mountain Khakis’ brand personality shouted with a big voice.

Hard goods need more than a gondola to pull us into their experience. Petzl provided a bit of punch with “ice” for crampons to sit on and a colorful array of carabiners.

Real-life technology was translated into display at Burton as customers explored how touchscreen technology translates into a common experience. How do you use a phone or other devices while on a ski lift?

This booth was chock full of mannequins in motion. Nathan’s front of booth display was colorful and energetic and powerfully spotlighted its LED accessories.

Tubbs Snowshoes
Ah, simplicity. Tubbs utilized photographs and simple signage to demonstrate the benefits of its snowshoes. No high-tech mumbo jumbo needed; we jumped right into the experience.

Helly Hansen
The unexpected always causes us to pause, which is the intent of merchandising to begin with. When you have a solid reason, as Helly Hansen did in demonstrating its outerwear benefits, you also make product technology an experience we can touch.

Congratulations to all of the BOB winners!

Think your booth might have what it takes to make it to the BOB podium next show? Send an email alert before the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market to merchandising editor, Robin Enright, at

SNEWS Merchandising Editor Robin Enright
is the founder of Merchandising Matters,
which provides merchandising support to brands, retailers and their agencies.

Reach her via email at
with questions, ideas and suggestions.