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The best advice is still in person and in-store…

The best advice is still in person and in-store.
Nothing beats a good old fashion conversation when it comes to buying the right outdoor gear. After all, it’s the answers the consumer gives that directs a good salesperson to the right items for that customer.

Even as our web sales grow, we consistently find that we are taking phone calls and helping customers choose the right clothing, footwear, and gear for their adventures or use prior to them hitting “buy” on the website.

Online reviews are getting used more and more. Entertaining to read but for some reason they are either 5 star or 1 star. Where are all the 2,3-, and 4-star reviews? Reviews often help drive the conversations about products in the store these days and I love pitting my knowledge and experience against them. We must always take into consideration the environment and climate of where the product will be used, and that is very seldom portrayed in an online review.

One big thing that has changed in the outdoor industry is that customers are no longer benefiting from brands taking the time to properly test or try the newest products coming to market. With increased competition, brands must sometimes rush products to market without the same vetting as yester-years. This does mean consumers are often the guinea pigs with regards to field-testing and sometimes may have to experience the inconvenience of a product failing prematurely on them. As a long-time retailer, we do our best to NOT always bring in the latest and greatest trends if we are suspect of its design or performance. Other times we have insisted on trying out a test piece so we can try something before committing thousands of dollars to bring it into our stores.  Just this spring we had concerns about the new blend of merino wool and cotton that Smartwool was bringing to the market. Smartwool shipped us a shirt in late January for me to wear, which I did for several weeks and it passed with flying colours…so we now have it in stock this spring!

Of course, our customers are also a great resource for us, and we are lucky to have a ton of long-time loyal customers who will also share their likes and dislikes of products that we carry. These conversations are invaluable to us to, and we can share that feedback with our other customers.

I imagine someday our role as outdoor store experts will disappear but I sure hope it’s not in my lifetime, because helping customers get geared up for adventures is still my favourite part of my job.

Geoff Horn

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