New movement is born to encourage more sober-inclusive events at Outdoor Retailer

A group of outdoor industry professionals is organizing to make sure sober and sober-curious show goers aren't left out.

“I heard yesterday from a newly-sober friend that it was a challenge to find non-alcoholic beverages on the show floor during happy hour,” Kassondra Cloos, freelance writer and former SNEWS editor, posted in the Basecamp Facebook Group on June 19.

The post centralized an extensive conversation about the lack of options for sober show goers during Outdoor Retailer Summer Market—and the frustration and discomfort that comes with it. At the previous summer show, Stacy Bare and Shannon Walton organized a concerted effort to expand options beyond alcoholic drinks through the separate “Healthy Happy Hour,” free of alcohol. While some booths offered sparkling water, smoothies, and soda, the thread illustrated that sober inclusivity wasn’t front of mind at the most recent show.

But the movement is bubbling up again in the outdoor industry with a new push to make big events like Outdoor Retailer more welcoming for people who’d rather not have a beer with their gear.

A growing team of outdoor industry professionals met this week to lay the groundwork for a campaign that calls on brands to offer non-alcoholic beverages (kombucha doesn’t cut it) at their happy hours and meet ups at the next show in Denver this November. It doesn’t mean brands can’t also offer alcohol.

“When brands only provide alcoholic drink options at networking events or happy hours, it can feel alienating to folks who live sober lifestyles,” Sallie Hoefer, of Camber Outdoors, said. “This includes folks who can’t consume alcohol because of religious beliefs, or physical, mental, or emotional health reasons—as well as people who just choose to forgo booze in order to live their best lives. Our goal is to create a more inclusive Outdoor Retailer where everyone has the same opportunity to network and connect with others without feeling the pressure to drink.”

The group is putting together a tool kit of best practices, such as which types of beverages are best along with other tips to make sure everyone feels welcome in those spaces. They’re also looking for 15 outdoor companies to participate at Winter Market with the long-term hope that non-alcoholic options will become second nature when planning events.

Are you or your brand interested in joining the movement? Contact Matt Bennett, of Echos Communications, at