One of the things I’ve been looking forward to since I started working at the shop is attending the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City, Utah. OR holds two shows, one in summer and the other in winter. The winter show consists mostly of ski, board, and other winter sports, whereas the summer showing is based around backpacking, rock climbing and kayaking, which is right up my alley. I’d first heard about OR in Backpacker Magazine about five years ago, and knew I wanted to attend. Only retail industry professionals are allowed, as well as vendors and members of the industry publications. Unfortunately, we didn’t go last year with the shop, but after a little pressing on my boss, he gave in and decided to go see the latest and greatest in outdoor products.
The plan was for or flight to depart Columbus at 6am on Monday, arrive in SLC at noon on Thursday, giving us time to climb some local mountains. Tuesday and Wednesday we’d attend the show, and then Thursday morning we would fly out at 6am, arriving in Columbus at 3:45pm thanks to the time change and a slight layover in Dallas. It would be a whirlwind trip, but being that I’ve never been farther west than Chicago, it didn’t matter to me.
I met my boss at 4:45am at the parking lot of my shop, at which point we rode together to the airport. Upon checking in, we found out that a mistake was made somewhere along the line and he had booked our flight out of Columbus, Georgia not Columbus, Ohio. We were on time for our flight, but in the wrong city. That created a bit of frustration however we were able to catch another flight at 7pm instead without receiving any transfer penalties. The upshot to this was I was able to take Viv to the airport and catch up on some much needed sleep, but the downside was that there would be no hiking in Utah, as we didn’t arrive until almost midnight on Monday evening.
After shuttling to our hotel, we found out they had lost our reservation, and had either a 2 bed smoking room or a 1 bedroom non-smoking available. Being that neither of my boss nor I are smokers, we weren’t excited about taking the smoking room, however we were even less excited about the idea of sharing a bed together. Needless to say, we opted for the smoker’s room. When we got in, we found that we didn’t have any cold water in our sink, and our ceiling was leaking from upstairs. So far, not a good way to start a trip. Too exhausted to deal with any of those issues, we called it a night and got some much needed sleep.
Tuesday morning we started with our appointments even before the official show opened. We had a crazy schedule booked, cramming as much in as we possibly could in the two days we had available. The show was enormous, with hundreds of booths each displaying all their products, sales information and the like. My eyes were the size of softballs as I took everything in. For the next two days, we spent some time browsing the various booths, checking out new products to bring in, and talking to the reps about the latest and greatest in gear.
I was lucky enough to bring back a few souvenirs from the trip, including a brand new climbing rope, a device that turns a regular bic lighter into a pressure-based lighter with a heavy duty flame, and a couple beer glasses. I missed out on the chance to get a free pair of shoes since they didn’t have my size, but nonetheless I was happy with the bounty of stuff that I brought home, especially the climbing rope. Now I need to get out and use it!