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Aisle of Paradise

Legendary trade show critic Booth MacGyver returns from sabbatical to take on GOA Connect

For those that know me, I’ve been on sabbatical for the last few years. During this time I’ve been knee-capped by private equity, crushed by corporate bureaucracy, and left for deadstock by the upending of retail, media and human interaction. But what I’ve learned is that even a vampire squid cannot squeeze the life force out of what is the essence of our trade show, eventing selves: P2P connection. 

I was privileged to attend last week’s Connect by Grassroots. In my opinion, the GOA…T of trade shows.

It’s refreshing to experience a show designed around keeping it simple. Where we set aside the arms race of booth construction for a pure pipe and drape affair. Buyer-rep conversations front and center. Oh, and most importantly, the show caters lunch, snacks, and happy hours for attendees. That’s what I’m talking about. So, let’s dive in to what I found.

On, the Swiss running footwear juggernaut, manages to play by the rules of pipe and drape simplicity and still lights it up. I approve.

Keen is Clean. Ask them How. The sign says so. But how can I be excited about this if they’re not even excited. That said, selling fewer shoes is inherently cleaner. Touché.

Artilect comes from two words that sound like one word to create a protectable brand name. One word that sounds like two words is typesetting. 

Kudos to DoveTail for the courage to turn your back on convention and lead with a bold color. I approve.

Reno holds a special place in the annuals of Outdoor Industry trade shows. And why not? Reno is where business gets done.

Primus is doing the right thing here with their authentic, ‘keep it real’ imaging, but I must caution: Those of a certain age have a much different expectation from your brand promise. Just one big brown beaver added to the campsite would do it.

Kari Traa is showing next level Mannequin skills by sporting the pet accessory. The Lammequin is tough to do right, but is an absolute all-star when it comes to communicating cozy.

Cotopaxi knows what it’s doing too, with a little background concept and full dress form. I approve.

It’s hard to believe that in 2024 we’re still dealing headless forms. When will we learn that in order to get ahead, you must first include one.  #DoBetter

With great looking product OBOZ is in full presentation mode. Although this booth feels more like a PowerPoint than True to the Trail. Can Clippy be far behind?

Everybody pay attention– this is how it’s done. FITS manages to throw some shade while brightening up the place. I approve.

Boy, it sure is good to be back in the saddle again. See you next set up!

Booth MacGyver is Rock Fight’s trade show correspondent and critic. He’s an expert in brand communication, a renowned mannequin rights advocate, and promo candy connoisseur. He periodically files reports from a hotel near the airport.


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