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Trade Shows & Events

Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2012: Best of Booth awards

Find out which brands impressed SNEWS Merchandising Editor Robin Enright enough to earn a Best of Booth award at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2012.

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This SNEWS Outdoor Retailer Summer Market recap is brought to you by Cordura:

Outdoor Retailer Summer Market exhibitors rocked the Salt Palace the first week of August with their “visit-me-now” eye candy. SNEWS Merchandising Editor Robin Enright explored the entire show each day to determine Best of Booth (BOB). Deciding which booths and displays trump the rest is never an easy decision.

Winners were chosen on overall clarity of brand messaging in merchandising, an ability to stand out in a visually stimulating environment and an exciting use of color and materials as well as details in design and strength in story. Before a choice is made, Enright spends more time with potential winners by noting where her feet begin to slow and her curiosity grows. The stories behind our ORSM 2012 BOB winners are just as interesting as their visual details.

Best Overall Booth: Prana

The design and materials used in Prana’s new 40-by-50-foot booth seamlessly introduced us to the experience of the brand. Attention-getting and playful high wall displays framed with a free-flowing design of fabric scraps read like a well-choreographed dance, punctuated by spools of thread and fabric scrap balls. Such elements pulled us directly into the story. Prana’s booth encouraged exploration with each aspect of visual messaging adding a well thought-out layer.

Hemp ropes, a Prana signature, remained a significant design element. Minimal waste and kindness to the earth are in Prana’s DNA, and its booth not only communicated those values, but also pushed the brand to a creative and fresh new approach in its trade show experience.

Cardboard cylinders were inspired by spools of fabric in the warehouse, and were wrapped in imperfect, organic graphics. Ropes of moss and basil incorporated visitors’ sense of smell, and new copper Prana logos gained patina from a nontoxic vinegar mixture. The double-decker rounders and wall layout were designed to provide a walking tour of brand experience with color stories center stage, and also supplied display options to retailers. Mannequin stands were of Sequoia wood saved from becoming firewood, the area rug at the booth entrance was newspaper woven with recycled fabric and labels included material source information. A cool design element only evident from above: The booth layout mirrored Prana’s logo. No detail was arbitrary — and it shows!

The booth was designed in-house, led by Lewis Abercrombie with Riley Atlas, Jeff Haack and Visual Merchandiser Meme Snell. Booth was manufactured by Greenspace out of Portland, Ore.

Sustainable BOB: Timberland


One of the coolest things about repurposing materials is that history becomes interlaced with the present, and a booth visually can communicate where a brand has been and where it’s going. Timberland hit the nail on the head.

The 40-by-50-foot booth had a stylish and powerful entrance designed to be spacious enough that anyone could come in and hang out. Each detail was considered carefully, from the size of the bolts used on the steel entrance to the placement of the reception desk just inside the booth to the right. The story didn’t stop there.

The booth harkened back to its New England outdoor industrial work heritage, and it’s no accident that most of the materials used in construction had a strong connection to the Northeast. Visual and touchable details that showed elements used in production invited retailers and consumers to connect on an emotional level. The behind-the-scenes storytelling used reclaimed wood from Vermont, which became the booth centerpiece in the form of a table that invited gathering. Bricks from an old factory in New Hampshire formed the floor the table sat upon and the metal used in the stools and tractor-style seating was repurposed from the old Timberland booth and other sources.

Experience-focused graphics printed directly on wood had a woodsy feel (pun intended) and lured us into the Timberland brand. The bow upon the booth package is an enormous logo created from a reclaimed floor in Amesbury, Mass.

Responsible for bringing the booth to life were Timberland Global Creative Services, Fixtures and materials: Vermont Store Fixture Corp. Engineering, production, logistics: Concept 360. Timberland’s Andrew Carbine was project manager.

Split Personality BOB: Yakima


Two brands from the same parent company that appeal to different types of consumers came together creatively in this 40-by-60-foot garage-themed booth. Visitors walked from the Whispbar booth, with its elegant art gallery and automobile-centric, minimalist feel straight into garages that housed various categories of Yakima products. The booth brought the experience of visiting individual neighborhood garage interiors to life and the details in each space set the stage for the type of product found inside.

Whispbar was designed to appeal to the consumer with a high-end car who occasionally wants to transport outdoor gear, but doesn’t want to compromise the design elements of his or her vehicle. Yakima garages were reflective of the consumer who is all about the experience first, and needs racks or roof top boxes to add people or gear.

Touch screens in Whispbar’s booth pulled us into the experience of driving a fine car along winding roads and allowed easy access to navigating product particulars. Everything right down to the packaging was designed to make the purchase process effortless.

Yakima garages made you want to stop in, pop open a Pabst Blue Ribbon and spend some time hanging out with friends. Details like iPad screens in empty keg containers, toolboxes housing basic sale supplies and a garden completed the experience and asked: Are you a Yakima or Whispbar outdoor adventurer?

Creative direction was provided by Yakima’s brand management team and James Buckroyd, Yakima’s global creative director, with booth construction orchestrated by Pinnacle Exhibits.

Tiny but Mighty BOB: O Loves M Eco Bags


O Loves M Eco Bag owner, Merle O’Brien, is known for designing her 10-by-10-foot booth at every Outdoor Retailer show on site with merchandising elements pulled from discard piles at the show and greater Salt Lake City. Comfortable with design on the fly and a solid awareness of product display, this booth took treasures from the trash and found them a new home. The tiny booth created from discarded doors, an old fence and crates provided a powerful product-centric message and took advantage of color stories while letting the found materials dictate design.

Display Diva BOBs:

Message Factory

Founder Julie Rochefort wanted mannequins that reflected “coming from the earth,” and made papier mâché body forms, which she then planted in flowerpots.


Sometimes a fixture manufacturer can’t give you quite what you want in your budget, but if you’re Millet’s Maro LaBlance, you don’t let that stop you. LaBlance found her way to the plumbing department of Home Depot and sat in the aisle playing with materials until she created exactly what she wanted.


Outdoor Research

Natural elements like rocks, soil and bark brought Outdoor Research’s technical product to life especially when paired with just the right props and punctuated with brilliant color.

Ojai International

Big heads are not always a bad thing. In fact, these playful wooden mannequin’s invited us to come on in and play while serving as powerful workhorses for displaying apparel.


TrekSta’s bright-red light fixture might have had power issues, but that didn’t stop the booth from working color hard. The abundance of green in the plants with just the right amount of red helped footwear jump off the shelves!


A lush gathering of mannequins and the “just right” use of colorful props popped Patagonia’s merchandise.

Congratulations to our winners and to all Outdoor Retailer exhibitors who keep raising the bar. Bring it, Outdoor Retailer Winter Market!

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 Winter Market to merchandising editor, Robin Enright, at

SNEWS Merchandising Editor Robin Enright

is the founder of Merchandising Matters,

which provides
visual merchandising and

marketing support to the outdoor retail industry.

Reach her via email at

with questions, ideas and suggestions.