Vail’s Arn Menconi: Retailers focusing on ‘sustainability’ |

Vail’s Arn Menconi: Retailers focusing on ‘sustainability’

Arn Menconi
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyArn Menconi with Jared Preston from Suunto Watches. Suunto continues to be innovative in both product design and the technology available to the consumer.-

Editor’s note: Arn Menconi, executive director of Colorado-based youth nonprofit SOS Outreach, is on the road attending a series of ski and snowboard industry tradeshows and conferences. He’ll be sending periodic dispatches from the events, telling readers what’s new and interesting in the world of snow sports. This dispatch comes from the Outdoor Retailer winter tradeshow.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Outdoor Retailer continues to be a show for gear heads who welcome new innovative ideas. However, the past few years has seen the focus shift into a more environmentally conscious industry. Throughout the show, manufacturers have been trying to push the envelope on sustainability with the help of technology.

Patagonia for example, launched an ad campaign this year called “Don’t Buy this Jacket.” The campaign was designed by Patagonia to put a mirror to themselves and other manufacturers in an effort to reduce the use of precious resources.

Patagonia asks that customers slow down and take a minute to think about their purchases and what resources go into them before buying. Although perhaps not the best way to make a sale, it shows a new side of corporate responsibility that is rare.

During the annual Outdoor Industry Association’s breakfast to kick off the show, hosted by The North Face, it was obvious the tone they were setting. Andrew Winston, environmental strategist, spoke on current environmental pressures and economic trends and what they meant for outdoor businesses.

Beth Jensen, director of corporate responsibility of Outdoor Industry Association, reinforced that “the momentum around the sustainability work of the outdoor industry has never been stronger. One-hundred people flew into Salt Lake City a day early to attend a full day of working meetings for the OIA Sustainability Working Group, which currently has around 200 member companies.-The OIA SWG … continues work on the Eco Index/Apparel Index, and is tackling other supply chain challenges in the outdoor industry including materials traceability, chemicals management, and social responsibility/fair labor practices.”

Leaders in the industry like The North Face have also been looking for creative ways to get the next generation involved in the effort by supporting such adventure sports and leadership nonprofits as Bay Area Wilderness Training, Outdoor Outreach and SOS Outreach.

Although the economy is still in a lull and snow has been hard to come by this season, it seems that people are still willing to spend when it comes to their interests and hobbies.

Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of Outdoor Industry Association, said that the tradeshow is growing. In fact, this year’s winter show was the largest in history for OR, up 10 percent in terms of overall exhibitors.

“People are looking for a meaningful experience in their lives right now,” said Hugelmeyer, “and we offer that in a pretty tough climate. Politically and economically around the world we give a lot of certainty in an uncertain world.”

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