The Summer Markets Open Air Demo was a resounding success for most of the vendors BOSS spoke with. The lake at Little Dell Reservoir was crowded with canoes, kayaks, wind-surfers, and even sailboats. The two largest booths, Thule and Watermark, were drawing the biggest crowds with demonstrations of the dueling lift-assisted car-top carriers. The massive cook-out sponsored by Thule didnt hurt either.
While the crowds were not necessarily flocking to the Nordic Walking demonstrations, the next great hope for the slowing ski pole industry was well represented by the three companies who exhibited Exel, Leki, and Swix.
BOSS did notice quite a few retailers out on the trails giving this new activity a try; however the vendors have some considerable barriers to overcome before Nordic Walking is accepted by mainstream America. Mark Fenton, spokesperson for Exel and Keynote Speaker at the OIA Industry Breakfast, described the barrier perfectly as “the dork factor.” Nordic Walking did offer a surprisingly thorough work-out, and if cycling can overcome its own lycra-clad “dork factor” then Nordic Walking shouldnt have too much trouble.
Magellan introduced their newest price-point GPS series, the eXplorist, which offers 3 meter accuracy at prices as low as $100, and the “Treasure Hunt” which the marketing crew put together gave attendees a reason to wander off through the surrounding countryside.
Golite was the only soft-goods company of note in attendance, and received more than a brief glance from the few soft-goods buyers in attendance. The company was loaning out its new line of hydration packs, and with Montrails running team right next door, the light and fast crowd flocked to this small corner of the demo.
The water sports companies couldnt have asked for a higher quality audience, as buyers from all over the country were out on the lake trying out new designs and getting the real story on the new product lines. Where else can you hop in a touring Kayak and paddle out to watch world-class whitewater athletes do flips over your hull?