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GOA Connect Instant Reaction and a Gear & Beer Teaser

Live from Reno, it's Monday morning!

Today on THE ROCK FIGHT (an outdoor podcast that aims for the head) Colin is back from Reno and is ready to talk about his instant reaction to attending GOA Connect.

The Grassroots Outdoor Alliance (GOA) is a coalition of 104 independent outdoor specialty retailers and Connect is their twice annual trade show. This week Colin had the opportunity to spend a day at Connect and today Colin offers his thoughts on why this show is different.

Then its a sneak peak of the latest episode of Gear & Beer which now has it's own podcast feed that you can listen to and follow wherever you get your podcasts!

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Episode Transcript

Colin (00:00):

Welcome to the Rock Fight where we speak our truth, slay sacred cows and sometimes agree to disagree. This is an outdoor podcast that aims for the head. I'm Colin True, and today I want to give you my sort of instant reaction to what I observed attending this week's grassroots Outdoor Alliance trade show in Reno. And then we'll wrap things up with a gear and beer teaser to get you all fired up. To head over to our new Gear and Beer podcast feed and follow and listen over there. But first, have you follow and rated The Rock Fight. Please do so wherever you're listening to help our show grow. And Apple Podcast listeners written reviews are like gold to us, so please leave us a written review and then email us at my rock fight so that we can send you a rock fight or a gear and beer sticker. And lastly, head to rock to join our mailing list and get our awesome weekly newsletter news from the front that comes out every Sunday. Alright, let's start the show.

Chris DeMakes (00:55):

Rock Fight. Rock Fight.

Colin (01:00):

This past week in Reno, Nevada whose airport is challenging my long held belief that DIA is America's worst airport. I had the opportunity to spend a day at the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Connect Show. Grassroots or GOA is a coalition of independently owned outdoor specialty retailers that are scattered all across the us. And if you are of the Outdoorsy persuasion, these are your favorite stores. They're gear shops, places where you go to get ready for adventure places where the staff can tell you about the local trails to hike while properly fitting your boots. Places where if you want to start a career in the outdoors, you go there first. And I say all that, not at the expense of REI or Public Lands or Dick's or Academy or Cabela's or Bass Pro in the outdoor retail landscape. There's a healthy balance and we need to have both the legit little guys and the infrastructure that the chains provide.


But that doesn't mean you want to kill time in any of the big guys. For me, the defining feature of the types of stores you'll find as a member of the GOA is that they're the hubs of our community. Places you want to hang out in, even if you have nothing to buy and twice a year these shops gather for their own trade show. For many, the Connect Show is a thing of myth and of legend. When I was a sales manager and outdoor brands, I was able to just one time bring my line to their discovery marketplace, which is held during the big show to show off my brand and products, but until this week, I had actually never set foot inside of Connect. And that's by design because it's invite only a lot of outdoor events and shows are the equivalent of a Wednesday night adult softball team.


Show up, hang out, have some beers, maybe talk some Shop and Head Home Connect is peak era. Bill Belichick, do your job Patriots. There is purpose and organization and a North Star to the event that makes it stand apart against anything I've experienced before. And that doesn't make it not fun. There is plenty of the outdoor trade show experience that we all look forward to, but as we live inside of the spaghetti at the wall, see what sticks, era of outdoor events, there's a lot to be learned. GOA Connect and these shows are definitely the topic of the day. We've all been talking about the new switch pack spring show, which is also advertising here on the rock fight. The outside festival was a big topic a few weeks back and I'm off to Outdoor retailer next week. So a full state of the show episode is coming.


But for today I'm going to run through my top four observations coming out of GOA Connect. The first of which is that for all of its differences, connect was a throwback for this industry. Old timer. If you took or at its Zenith Limited booth size and stripped away all the media, PR, athletes, nonprofits and Swag hounds, you'd have connect. When I walked into the trade show hall, I immediately ran into people who hadn't seen since 2018. All the brands that everyone complains are missing from the other shows, they're all here. Every relevant outdoor brand was in the building and they had the aforementioned discovery marketplace for one night to give up and comers exposure to their retail membership base. But that's where the similarities end because the biggest difference about Connect is the most important. This is a working show where the GOA schedules your meetings and you move from appointment to appointment over the course of the day that makes the show quiet, efficient and with real purpose.


There is no debate about whether the show is worth it or not because business gets done. Which leads me to my second point and that is that big shows tend to Peter out before they end. There are plenty of us that remember day four at or just killing time before we could finally start dismantling the booth. Independent sales reps will remember trying to escape the show a day or two early because they had no more appointments, but their sales managers were forcing them to stick around so they looked good in front of their CEOs. Those who worked at the front end of the booth were recalled doing nothing on those last days other than fending off the swag horse who had somehow gained entrance to the show and were trying their best to go home with arm loads of free product, not so at Connect because scheduling is done by the event organizers and because both brands and dealers show up expecting to do business schedules are full until the end.


Number three sounds like a little thing, but it's not. They fed us because attendance is limited. GOA can serve lunch, snacks and drinks throughout the day. Taking that logistical part out of everyone's schedule allows everyone to stay on task and make it to all of their pre-scheduled meetings. And four, I don't really have a fourth point other than a summation of the previous three and that summary is that this is a show with a point of view, which is something that feels like a glaring oversight in the larger. What should we do about outdoor events conversation? Like I said at the beginning, I'm going to talk about this larger conversation down the road, but to tease some of it, one of the reasons why or isn't what it is anymore is that it became much harder to answer the question, who is this for? I'd argue that the current version of or answers that question better than what we used to have because it seems that or, and I'll be able to speak to this better next week, is now a place for new and upstart brands to get exposure.


Whereas before it was just a big expensive get together. But for a long time, anecdotally speaking anyway, it seems that the driving sentiment behind new events was replacing what we lost as or changed. That there was this that we were all missing and that perhaps this or this other new thing would fill that gap. And while the gathering of the tribe is important, and I understand why we all want that, there still needs to be purpose to keep these things going. It is after all just like what Brad Pitt as Billy Bean and Moneyball told his dinosaur of a scout 150

Old Scout (06:14):

Years even yourself,

Bill Beane (06:17):

Adapt to die.

Colin (06:20):

Look, these shows and gatherings need to operate like a brand, know who they are and who they're serving. Or with all the choices we have, the ones who don't, they're going to fade away. GOA has real purpose and checks that box of community and gathering for those who attend. Now more on this topic to come as I attend other events and get more feedback from those in our industry and community who attend them over the next few weeks. If you're one of those people and you want to reach out, send me your point of view, your feedback to my rock Lastly, before we wrap up today, like I told you last week, gear and Beer, the pairings that matter most is all groan up and left the roos for its own podcast feed, but fans of gear and beer here in the rock fight, we don't want to leave you hanging. So here is the first few minutes of the most recent episode of Gear and Beer that just dropped today and we would love for you to head over there to that feed and follow and rate the show just like you've done here at the Rock Fight. The Rock Fight Podcast network is growing and we can't thank you enough for supporting it. So here you go, little teaser, the latest gear and beer, the first few minutes, check it out and please go follow the show.


Welcome to Gear and Beer, the podcast for Gearheads beer buffs and all adventurers with discerning taste. I'm Colin true. I spent over 20 years working for brands and makers in the outdoor industry.

Justin (07:38):

And I'm Justin Hausman, a journalist, professional gear reviewer, senior editor at Adventure Journal, and also a certified beer expert with a question for you Colin. Okay, what about gear buffs and beer heads? I mean we're for gearhead and beer buffs, but I feel like there's probably gear buffs and there's probably beer heads.

Colin (07:56):

Yeah, absolutely. I think those things are completely interchangeable. That's a different podcast. That's like the bizarre gear and beer. That's beer and gear. Sorry.

Justin (08:04):

Oh, you're right. I make that mistake all the time.

Colin (08:06):

Today we were first be reviewing a piece of gear the best way we know how. We don't talk about stack height geometry or with underfoot.

Justin (08:13):

Never Ever, we've never once talked about those things.

Colin (08:15):

That joke played itself out. We talk about gear, the way you talk with your friends about gear. It's about the experience, our likes and our dislikes. And then for everybody, we take that piece of gear, we pair it with the perfect post activity beverage because Justin big glass

Justin (08:27):

Of milk

Colin (08:28):

Is a cerone and he can recommend the kind of milk that you should have with your gear. Yes. Cold. No, he's a certified beer expert. Still are, right? It's true. Okay, good. Yep. You can look never expires. It's a real thing. The bottom line is this is where you'll get the pairings that matter most. Gear and beer. And Justin, what gear and what beer are we reviewing today? Topo?

Justin (08:49):

Athletic Pursuit two. Colin, that's on you. I don't have those.

Colin (08:54):

I'm grabbing a hold of the cart today and I'm reviewing some shoes. Pair

Justin (08:58):

Of what? Trail runners. They're trail runners. Just hikers? Yep. Okay.

Colin (09:03):

Okay. You can use it for other ones. It's fine.

Justin (09:06):

Wait, what'd you just say?

Colin (09:08):

You can use it for either one. Hiking, trail, running, whatever. Can you It works.

Justin (09:12):

Okay. Alright. And then beer wise, I gave you a little assignment. I a little homework. You did, you did. I sent you out to find, I wanted you to get a wheat beer and I wanted you to find one that had a little fruitiness to it, A little rooty, tooty, fresh and fruitiness to it. I just felt like I felt it's getting hot. I don't know about where you live folks, but where I live it's getting pretty hot. And so wheat beers to me are the most refreshing kind of beer you can have. What's nice? All last week I was enjoying some Heins for the most part last week. And I bought some pink lemonade that I refused to let my daughters drink so sugary, that's really just an excuse for me to buy it for myself. And I was making little rattlers with wheat beer. Just have some wheat beer, pour a little lemonade in it. God, there's really nothing more refreshing than that. So I gave you a little assignment to go find some of your own, but I was

Colin (10:03):

Picking up the beer. I saw some Wimer, he of Eyes and up on the shop. I love Wimer. He of Eyes.

Justin (10:08):

Wimer is good. Yeah, any Heisen is pretty good. I mean, weed beards are just so dang refreshing. And so I sent you out to find one that had a little bit of fruit to it too. So you have the Sam Adams Summer Ale and I just want to go, just want to come out with it right now and say, I love Sam Mul Adams beer. It gets a bad wrap as being a big mainstream brand, which I guess it is. But I mean, they started out craft, I think they're independently owned. I'm pretty sure they're still independent. I could be wrong. I probably should have looked that up before I said that, but

Colin (10:34):

Yeah, Jim Cook, right? Isn't that the Boston Beer

Justin (10:37):


Colin (10:37):

The whole

Justin (10:37):

Thing. And I think they're still kind of doing their own thing, but their beer's good. Their beer's really good. Any kind of rep they have is overly produced, big market brand or whatever is totally undeserved. They make a really good beer. And so Colin has that. And I went with the Golden Road Mango Cart. Golden Road is a brewery from LA that's since been bought by Anheuser-Busch and I haven't had this in a really long time and I'm really curious. I don't know that I've had a golden road since they were required, and so I'm really curious to see how this one is going to shake out.

Colin (11:08):

Okay. You ready to get into the gear?

Justin (11:11):

I am. Yeah. Yeah.

Colin (11:12):

All right. I've been preparing, have this

Justin (11:14):

Conversation. Are you ready to get into the gear?

Colin (11:15):

I'm excited about this. And look, we might get a little criticism. We've been a little footwear heavy.

Justin (11:20):

Have we? Hey, you know what though? You know what you do every single day you wear shoes.

Colin (11:25):

Yeah. Don't

Justin (11:25):

You, Colin? You don't wear a backpack every day. You don't sleep in a tent every day.

Colin (11:29):

If you ride a bike every day, you're lucky.

Justin (11:32):


Colin (11:32):

Yeah, right? Yeah. I always refer to shoes. When I was working in retail as the show, that was the show. You go to work the footwear floor, you're show.

Justin (11:40):

That's the big show. That's the big, that's the big time.

Colin (11:42):

Yeah. There's other things that could cost more, but if you go to an REI even, or a Dick's Sporting Goods, especially Shop whatever you walk in, it's like what's the main spot part of the store?

Justin (11:53):

The worst. It always, always part that. And you always browse it, right? Yes. I'm not always going to browse like jackets, but I'm always going to take a little stroll through the shoe section.

Colin (12:01):

Always. I see the colors. See what's

Justin (12:03):

On the wall. Yeah, maybe pick one up, kind of give it a heft. Give it a sniff. New shoes. Smell good? Yeah.

Colin (12:09):

Alright. That's all you get for gear and beer. And you should listen to the rest of that episode by checking out the Gear and Beer podcast feed by clicking the link in the show notes. That's the show for today. Be sure to reach back out with your comments on GOA Connect or any other outdoor event by sending an email to my rock The rock fight is a production of rock Fight LLC. I'm Colin True. Thanks for listening and here to take us out. It's Krista Makes with the Rock Fight Fight song. We'll see you next time. Rock fighters. Rock

Chris DeMakes (12:33):

Fight. Rock fight. Rock fight. Rock fight. Rock fight. Rock fight. Here we go into the rock fight where we speak our truth, stay sacred cows and sometimes hungry too to disagree. We talk about human power, outdoor activities and big bites about topics that we find interesting like my culture, music, the latest movie reviews, ideas for head. This is where we speak our truth. This is where we speak truth to welcome to the.


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