We were really excited in the lead up to this season’s Outdoor Retailer because it coincided with the launch of wholesaleisnotdead.com with several supporters. We know specialty retail is a vibrant channel and a valid growth opportunity for brands of all sizes, and the #wholesaleisnotdead movement (check out our blog explaining what it’s all about!) gives the outdoor retail community a way to join together in shared understanding and shout out that message.
It was fulfilling to head into the show by putting our efforts behind a positive, unifying message for our industry. We distributed over 2,000 buttons and stickers at OR spreading the message!
This was also the calm before the trade show, so we made sure to get some time to enjoy our surroundings. A quick stop at Flat Irons and the Chautaugua for some local beer. Then a hike through the surrounding meadows to remind us of the real reason we are here - our love for the outdoors.
Then a spin down Pearl St. for some more local brew, and it was off to pick up the Wholesale Is Not Dead buttons at a cheese shop of all places (that doubles as a UPS drop off). Wrapped up the day with some Sushi at one of the excellent restaurants near our AirBnB, and some Star Wars pinball at 1up.
We met up with the full Envoy B2B crew and headed into the back entrance, which turned out to be a wise choice. This OR was packed! And registration lines where long, winding all over. It looked like all 25,000 attendees were trying to register all at once.
Grabbed our free Nalgene bottles thanks to the Plastic Impact Alliance.
A quick walk around the show floor to get the lay of the land revealed a greatly expanded Venture Out area this year. And the Upper Level was Massive, with many brands that had previously been in Venture Out. It was exciting to see so many of our friends and peers finding success (Congrats to Topo Designs!).
Walking around the show it was easy to see that we nailed the topic of our first blog that week. Specialty retail is definitely on the rise, and it was easy to see the excitement and passion on the floor. Brand after brand we talked with was interested, excited, and seeking helping plotting their course to work with specialty retailers.
After a lot of lively talk with friends (OR is also a great place to catch up every season!), we headed out to our party at Live At Jacks with Netsuite. It was great to meet some new NetSuite faces and network with brands over tasty treats and drinks.
That was just the start of the evening though, as we also had a party at Your Mom’s House that night with the American Alpine Club. Our very own Tom Rau and Chris Morse joined in and played drums on a few songs. By the end of the night the place was packed, and it felt like we had officially settled into the tradeshow.
I may or may not have put a WHLS NOT DEAD sticker on the men’s toilet seat.
Word really got around about Wholesale Is Not Dead on day 2. Supporters hit the pavement - meeting with brands, retailers, and industry folks to rally around the movement and build momentum. It was fantastic to see Forbes pick up on it and feature us in their retail category.
We published our 2nd blog of the show, kicking off our Specialty Retail: #Originalinfluencer series by highlighting Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus, an amazing shop right here in our hometown of Grand Rapids. With so many cool shops represented by their buyers at OR it was fantastic to get to talk to a few. We saw tons of validation of specialty retail being the #originalinfluencers, which was exciting for us.
Back on the floor, it was terrific to see so many Envoy B2B clients using the platform right in their booth. Meeting buyers and building their business with the tools we’ve created. Wholesale is truly not dead, and Day 2 was a tangible demonstration of that.
As the day wound down, and happy hours across booths got started, Team Envoy floated around the floor, mingling with brands and meeting new friends. We also made a quick stop at the happy hour celebrating Smokey the Bears 75th. Happy birthday!
All good things must end. One last go-around to say goodbye to friends and help them offload any unwanted gear.
Before we left the show, we published our final blog, a conversation with argot agency. They shared their unique insights on specialty retail, how brands can be smart partners, and the outdoor industry. Wes, Matt, and Megan at argot have so much knowledge and insight on how to help brands work with retailers at a hyper local level. It’s incredible. If you missed it, give it a read!
A quick train ride back to the airport and we were off! Back to Grand Rapids, minds enriched through so many great conversations with brands and retailers experiencing growth, excited about the state of our industry.
Wholesale is not dead. Team Envoy B2B just spent four days in its heart and it’s beating strong.