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The Switchback Blowback with Wes Allen

Heading to Nashville next June?

Today we're dipping our toes back into the trade show world with some retailer feedback on the recently announced Switchback Spring show that's coming to Nashville next June.

When news broke about Switchback adding a spring version of the show that has been historically part of The Running Event, Wes Allen (former guest of THE ROCK FIGHT and principal of Sunlight Sports in Cody, WY) was not stoked.

The bottom line is that Wes is concerned about the amount of retailer and brand focused events that are scheduled for June.

After posting his thoughts on LinkedIn we invited him to join Colin & Justin and dig into the retail point of view of the addition of a new show as well as industry events in general.

And he's here today to do just that.

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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 Tru, and today Outdoor Retailer West Allen has taken umbrage with the recently announced switchback spring trade show. Where has West taken his umbrage? Well, right here to the rock fight that's coming up. But first, please follow the rock fight wherever you are listening, as well as give the show a five star rating. And Apple Podcast listeners, if you leave us a written review on Apple Podcasts and then email us at my rock fight We'll send you a rock fight sticker. Let's get those reviews and stickers flowing people. Also be sure to check out our website, rock, where you can sign up for our weekly newsletter and then check us out on Instagram where our handle is. Also rock And lastly, don't forget the gear and beer. The pairings that matter most now has its own podcast feed. If you want to listen to tomorrow's full episode of Gear and Beer, follow that show. Wherever you're listening to this show and speaking of shows, let's start this one

Chris DeMakes (01:05):

Fight fight.

Colin (01:09):

A couple of weeks back here on the rock fight, Justin Hausman and I broke the news that switched back, which previously was the outdoor component of the running event, was launching a new spring show next June, 2025 in Nashville, Tennessee. Feedback to both our episode and the announcement itself was immediate and opinionated and one voice that bubbled to the top of that discourse was from West Allen, principal at Sunlight Sports and Cody Wyoming. Wes has amassed a following on LinkedIn for his outdoor industry commentary that comes from the lens of a specialty retailer and he quickly expressed frustration with the Switchback announcement specifically on the timing of the show. June is becoming a very crowded month as events continue to get added, aimed at attracting all parts of the outdoor crowd. Longtime events like Outdoor Retailer, GOA Connect and regional rep shows have all existed on attendees calendars for years.


And then this year we got the launch of the outside festival and the announcement of Switchback and Switchback has remained a hot topic over the past few weeks as they look to enter the event fray, including running ads on this show. So to get a deeper perspective on the impact that Switchback is going to have on an already crowded field, we invited Wes to sit down with Justin and me to talk through it. Welcome back to the Rock Play, where today it's the Switchback Blowback with Wes Allen. Alright, so Wes Allen's back on the rock fight. He's the principal at Sunlight Sports and Cody Wyoming came on a few months ago to talk about the state about to retail and he's back again today to talk about trade shows this time. Welcome back, Wes.

Wes (02:33):

Hey, it's great to see you too, Justin, awesome to meet

Justin (02:35):

You. Yeah, you too man. It's nice to not just have a LinkedIn like logo next to your face.

Wes (02:42):

Yeah, yeah, yeah, that is completely mutual.

Colin (02:48):

Well, Russ, let's just jump right in with the main reason you're here. So last week Justin and I discussed the news that had just recently broken that switchback, the outdoor theme part of the running event is launching a spring outdoor edition of the in Nashville. That's going to happen next June and per your post on LinkedIn this past week, you are not too stoked about this addition to the trade show calendar. So we wanted to hear why that is. So why is that?

Wes (03:11):

I think what I would lead off with is so damn close. I think that if Switchback would've landed in a different time, it would be completely fine. I think it would be great. But they landed in middle of June and for all of us that are involved in buying and selling stuff in the outdoor industry, the beginning of June is already completely overloaded. As a matter of fact, I count at least 14 different B2B buying events for independent retailers and brands that happened just in June. There is not a lack of events to go to if you want to go write a preseason order or whatever. There's a lack of other things. We've talked about that in the trade show cycle before, but a place to go to look at socks in June is not one of them.


I think the biggest thing that I have a concern with here is that we're already kind of at a zero sum game in trade shows. When you talk about early season, what do I mean by that? Well, there's no time. None of us have time to go any more shows. So if any of us go to Switchback, we're not going to go to something else we're already attending. And those other events that are in the industry that are happening in June are actually almost all owned by small businesses in the industry. So let's say that I'm a retailer, I am in the middle of May and I'm trying to figure out where I'm going to go and I look at my options while some of the options I have are the regional shows. You might look at something like the 360 Adventure Collective. That's basically the entire east coast.


There are some regional rap associations in the North Central part and the Rockies and the West Coast and all of those shows cumulatively, there are like 11 of those shows together just in there. They're all owned by reps, they're all owned by independent reps that are trying to make their own jobs easier and they're paying to make those shows happen. The grassroots show is owned by the retailers that attend and they use all the proceeds to just pay for travel for everybody who gets in there. There's the Outdoor Market Alliance, it's in Denver, that thing's all owned by independent reps. And so these are all basically mom and pop types of businesses that are investing in making this work. There's one thing, a couple things that are happening actually right now in June that are not owned by small businesses. The show Outdoor Retailer in its current form is in that timeframe. And of course it's owned by Emerald Expositions, big publicly traded company. And then the outside festival, which just happened what last weekend or a couple of weekends ago last weekend. Part of it's owned by outside media, but the big gear show actually owned by a couple of retailers as well.

Colin (06:11):

Why are they in June?

Wes (06:14):

That's a great

Colin (06:14):

Question. Obviously we have a lot of our listeners are in the industry and often in they're either reps or their sales managers and they obviously know, but you have a lot of people like me who are either Pure media who attend trade shows, but I'm not on the B2B side, I'm not on the business of selling or buying any of this sort of stuff. So why are they in June

Wes (06:36):

Freaking supply chain, Justin?

Colin (06:38):

Yeah, I would assume. Yeah,

Wes (06:39):

It's so long that brands are basically already placing orders with their factories. Matter of fact, it's Friday as we're recording this and one of my bigger brands I haven't even seen yet, their deadline for turning in my order for their tents and sleeping bags and backpacks and bags is today.

Colin (07:00):

Oh wow,

Wes (07:01):

Okay. I'll see them next week. But all these brands basically have to submit factory orders for their first chance of production in either May or June. And so we have a bunch of deadlines that happened before the 4th of July.

Colin (07:15):

Okay, that makes sense. Alright, so lemme just take it back. You said so damn close, right? I look at this and full disclosure, I switch back is running ads on this show. They're really making a push to make this a thing and I look at what they're doing and if I'm want to be critical, it's like it is overloaded. There's a lot of options and what are you going to do to stand out would be the question I have. So from your perspective, and we can talk more about that specifically in a second, but what is so close, why would, I mean you're covered, right? You have a million places you can go in, a lot of different things you can do in addition to calling your reps, you have Zoom calls, have them come to your shop, all those things. You've never had more options frankly as a retailer. So what is it that is so close? I guess what would you would hope switchback would be? What would be enticing about going to a show like Switchback when you could go to big gear or a regional show or Oma or one of these other things?

Wes (08:08):

Well, the thing I would say about Switchback, they're associated with the running event. I've gone to the running event and they've got a great atmosphere. I think that it is kind of reminiscent of the old outdoor retailer days. The thing that's so close I equated to this. Let's say you're sitting down at your table and you've eaten BAI sandwiches for the last week and that's all you've been living on, and you say to the person sitting next to you, man, can I just have something else to eat? Wouldn't it be great if we went out and had a really nice dinner and they said, yeah, we got you. Just a second. They come back plop Balogna sandwich. We got exactly the same thing that we have plenty of already. That's kind

Colin (08:50):

What I mean, right? Won't the competition sort of sort itself out? I mean I think it's a big gear is an interesting one. Maybe this is a better Balogna sandwich is what Colin's trying to say. I mean big gear for two years tried to be what or was seemed to be what the mission was like, Hey, we're trying to bring back this thing that we lost. And then now this year, I don't know what the word is out of outside festival, I assume they got much more consumer engagement than they did retailer or rep engagement at Bigge this year. So I guess before we will see what happens next June, but it's like what could this thing even be that would make it enticing when you have all these other options? Well,

Wes (09:30):

In all honesty, it could be the thing that people are looking for, which is a dynamic event that gathers a bunch of people together and everything, but it can't happen in the middle of June. If you would've told that it happens, if you would've told me that it happened, I'd be pretty excited about it. Interesting. There's not a lot of other competition there and there are brands that want to clean up their order books and stuff and can do it in July. There's more free time there. And it would also, for a lot of us that are retailers and a lot of us that are in the or wholesale sales managers or whatever, the people that were nominally the backbone of outdoor retailer before we have more time in July in the beginning of June, when you put a new show in there, that literally is a zero sum situation. You have a certain amount of time as a retailer, you have a certain amount of time as somebody who works at a brand on the wholesale side, you only have a certain amount of sample sets. So for those of you who aren't in this, we are going to Reno next week, we're going to sit down. I know that my retailer is going to meet with about 47 brands. This

Colin (10:46):

Is at the Grassroots Outdoor Lion Connect Show

Wes (10:49):

And each one of those brands has had to build a sample set of what they're going to make next year. And those things are phenomenally expensive. Most apparel, most apparel lines, a sample set is $60,000. Holy crap. $50,000. And so they make as few of them as they can and they spread 'em out and they're shuttling 'em around to different shows. So right now as we speak, there's a whole caravan of brand people and U-Haul trucks hauling synthetic T-shirts to Reno, Nevada.

Colin (11:24):

That is true

Wes (11:27):

And it's really hard to get sample sets. And Colin, I know you've been on this side of it before, the lead up into getting your sample sets for early June shows is really stressful because you are crunched for time to get those produced. They're super expensive. They're all one-offs at the factory's doing, and half the time when you show up to a mid-June show, they'll say, oh, we don't have that sample yet. They'll say it's going to look like that, but it's going to be a different color. It's actually going to be made differently. And you have to tilt your head to the left to see how we're going to anchor

Colin (11:56):

Everything. In fact, just look at this CAD drawing. This is actually a better mistake.

Wes (12:01):

Right, exactly. Just close your eyes and imagine a shoe. It's a crock, but it's got a snowboard boot

Colin (12:09):

Landing. Oh, that thing's coming back. We're talking about that in the future, but keep going. Sorry.

Wes (12:12):

Anyway, so we're already maxed out for our demands on our resources, our time, our attention in the money that we can spend to have these shows in the beginning of June. But all that stuff, there's more time available in July. We've already got sample sets that you could take to a July show. It's like a mantra on this show and in the industry and everything, people are looking for a gathering where they can get together. The opportunity is later. And so when I say so damn close, I look at this announcement and I go, okay, step one, the people who run the running event are going to go into outdoor. That can be positive. Two, the vibe at TRE is awesome. Hey, two thumbs up. It's a June 15th sad trombone place just and I will circle back to this in that there's a limited number of dollars to support these limited number of people to go to 'em. Limited number of sample sets if they go into June and they're moderately successful, which I think is in my opinion, probably the best that they can hope for and kind of unlikely they're going to be pulling money, attention, and resources from all the other shows that are already there. And most of those shows are owned by people who own their own businesses like me. And that's a real negative thing. I think

Colin (13:44):

I have a couple questions that have popped up while you've been talking. So one is how much then did Covid suck for you as a retailer? I mean you obviously made it through. So part of me of Wonders, again, as someone who goes to these shows and watches, retailers sit down and have their conversations with what they're going to buy, all that sort of stuff. I have lots of friends who are sales reps in the surf industry and they're always driving around to different surf shops showing the shoes and the clothes and everything. But I'm just like, how necessary is it really? I mean this might be a stupid question, but how necessary is it to show up at a trade show and see the physical samples? I mean you guys did it during Covid. How did that work?

Wes (14:29):

Well, it sucked. I'll just tell you, there were some really funny things like Covid itself, obviously a horrible thing disrupted the world. There was one of the trade shows that basically tried to build the trade show in Second Life, which is the online well talking thing. Oh my God. You'd create an avatar and wander around to these booze to look at products. So your little,

Colin (14:54):

I think I remember hearing about that now that I think about it. Yeah.

Wes (14:56):

And then you would walk in and I know some avatar that's purple and 12 feet tall would show you a flannel and as soon as you clicked on it, the pattern would fill your screen. None of that worked. There are some things that you can do remotely and there's some buying that you can do remotely, but I will tell you to successfully buy and sell anything that people are going to put on their bodies, you have to

Colin (15:23):

Touch it. So you have to touch it and feel it. Yeah. Yeah.

Wes (15:25):

And when you go into an outdoor shop and you're thinking about a new fleece or new base layer or something. Yeah,

Colin (15:32):

Thing you do is touch it. First

Wes (15:34):

Thing you do is touch it and you can look at something, it'll look great on a Zoom call. And then when we had the experience that we would get stuff it'd deliver and it would be a plaid piece of sandpaper and you'd be like, oh man, this is not going to work. So in person, there are some things that you can do on Zoom and after Covid, a lot of us are doing some of those things on Zoom, but I got to tell you, the in-person line showings are really necessary. And the other piece I think is the kind of root of the whole, hey, let's all get back together is for brands, for reps, for retailers, it can be kind of lonely out here. Our friends and a lot of our social circle are at these shows. So there's the necessity of doing business and knowing what you're going to buy and spending your money wisely on things you think your customers might like. Then there is the social aspect where you can get in and share war stories and commiserate about how hard it is to sell socks this year.

Colin (16:45):

Yeah, that makes sense. Did you consider about the loneliness before you moved to Wyoming or Yeah, right.

Wes (16:52):

It's a really good point. I mean, I have a prairie dog out in the backyard. I'm very fond of.

Colin (17:00):

So one other thing I was wondering about is I love the idea of owned trade shows, especially because like I said, a lot of my friends are reps, but something like or in its heyday, right, owned by Emerald Brands are doing everything they can to get in there. Do the smaller sort of owned ones, are they limited to the, do they let outside brands in that they don't rep themselves or is there room for newer brands coming into those sorts of shows? Or are they kind of like a walled off ecosystem where if you're not repping this brand they don't get to show up?

Wes (17:32):

That's an awesome question and I'm going to tell you it depends on the show. Some of those shows allow discovery brands in. Some of the rep shows only allow in ones that are represented by those. And in some of the shows they don't let in factory. So about 50% of the industry, the pendulum swings back and forth, but about 50% of the industry doesn't use independent sales rep forces. They use in-house sales rep forces. And for those brands where they have in-house reps, many of the shows they can go to, but things like the Outdoor Market Alliance in Denver, they don't have a space. It's only the brands that are wrapped by independence. So there's an opportunity, I think that is the place where you start talking about switchback and you start talking about outdoor retailers being a little bit more democratically accessible, like grassroots show. They allow all sorts of brands there and they have a discovery marketplace and everything, but you have to be invited as a retailer. They don't just let everybody go. You have to be on the invitation

Colin (18:40):

List. One of my favorite things about going to or in years past would be I still have a couple of these things I'll be walking around with my lanyard on and someone would stop me and they go, Hey, hey, hey, hey. They're like, me and my dad made this. They had a booth. They're not just wandering around. No, but it was like a table totally adjacent to another booth. Maybe they weren't even legally supposed to be there, but I have this cutting board that folds in half, it's fine, but it was not ready for market. And some guy approached me on the floor and was like, come to our booth, check it out. Me and my dad are there. I'm like, all right, fine. And that's what they had made. They made a cutting board that you could fold in half and put in your camp box.


I still use it all the time, but I loved those little moments at or were so cool. We talked about, or probably in the last episode and we're going in a week and a half and the thing I've decided that I most miss are those little random booths where it's like a twirly. That's the show now where you're going to have a great time, generate some kind of mosquito repellent or whatever. That kind of stuff is what I really enjoyed. So I like the idea of you put it a democratically sort of accessible show or anybody that's trying their best to make this product can show up. So I'm looking forward to that. Wes, I think when it comes back to the trade show thing, I keep coming back thinking about Switchback introduction and all the sort we're talking about with the month of June being overloaded, and it comes to me especially coming off of the back of, or which was the singular force twice a year, and then there was the comparable European shows like you did ISPO in the winter and then Friedrich Chop and in the summer and you did O or twice and then you would have the regional rep shows those existed.


And that's usually where a lot of the work went down. But it had a kind of pretty balanced event schedule where all the boxes got checked. You had places where you could do commerce, you had places where you could gather, you had places where you could see new things and now it is everyone's just trying to get their piece of the pie. And as if I put on my kind of prognostication hat about looking at where does this net out, I'm super excited to see GOA when we're there next week when this episode drops because there's a real point of view and there is a real reason why that show exists. This is a place where there are brands and independent retailers and they work right now, outdoor Market Alliance is doing their media show in July and we're going to that, we've been invited to that and they're basically aping the model from GOA.


It's like you're going to show up here's, you pick your appointments, you sit for 30 minutes and everyone there is PR and media and that's great. There's a real reason for that show to exist. And when I heard about that setup, I got really excited. I'm like, that's great Justin. Who do we want to feature in Gear and beer over the next six months? Let's go sit with these folks and we can write probably half of our schedule for the remaining part of the year for the products we want to talk about. Well then when I look at the remaining things, it's like what is the point of view? What is switchbacks point of view? What is the why? Not just necessarily to get you to go, because really it's like how do you attract the brands? What is it that they're going to bring to the table that's say Wes and sitting in Wyoming to go, you know what? I want to go to Nashville. I want to see what this is all about. Hot chicken. Hot chicken. Which is actually I think a little underrated part of it. We talked about it last week too. I think that was smart. I don't know if Nashville is the right place in terms of logistics to get to, but having an East Coast show probably overdue to have that, frankly. So what do you think about what could attract brands or what could attract retailers to a show like this?

Wes (22:08):

Again, you guys are asking all these questions that people have been talking about for 15 years. I think that the fact that the successful shows that are left are all from a very specific point of view. I mean that is Darwinian evolution happening in the trade show space. The specialists are kind of winning right now, or was a generalist when we all went to, or I'm not sure that it did anything great in 2015, but everybody who was associated with the outdoor industry went, the

Colin (22:42):

Media, the buyers, that's what we talked about the last time you were here, about the things you were held accountable to and things like that. In previous shows, you had to come back and face these people, look these people in the eye the next time there was a real reason to show up even if the commerce part was a little on the thin side at that point.

Wes (22:58):

Yeah. So I think if I were trying to figure out where to put my show, if I was working for Diversified communications that owns TRE and Switchback and all that stuff, and I would be looking for what you are teasing out here, which is what is a compelling point of view that's actually going to make the show work. And the only thing that's not served, and it's the thing that gets talked about ad nauseum, is getting people together. There's plenty of places for us to buy and sell stuff. And frankly, most people that went to the old shows, they weren't buying and selling stuff. They were there for something else. You'd walk in out to a retailer and there'd be 25,000 people there and 3000 of 'em were retailers. It was everybody else that made it right. So you've got to figure out that community, that community piece with a show that's going to succeed and do something different. You're right, big gear tried something else. The outside festivals tried something else. It's going to be really interesting to see how they go. The default for a lot of these people is that they say, oh, we're going to really focus on education. We're going to make education great. That's just for at least from my point of view and being around other independent retailers, that's a nice to have, but it's not a need to go.

Colin (24:28):

Yeah, makes sense. That's fair. No, the outside festival, I think what it will do, because by all accounts it was successful, people showed up at least I don't think the Summit day was quite as much successful as they would've thought, but all speaking anecdotally, I wasn't there. But it shows that that's the consumer side of it, but there's no reason for, again, retails reps, things like that to really show up with that. I think we all really understand that we want to get together the unique special sauce of, or was, to your point, it was a rep in retail show that everybody could kind of go to, but not consumers. But it's still like you're never going to have something for everyone. So it's just again, trying to figure out how to fill all the boxes here

Wes (25:07):

And it might just not be possible. The one thing I'm going to say about this whole deal and us looking back and old guys wishing it was like it was 10, 20 years ago or

Colin (25:19):

Whatever, yelling at the clouds,

Wes (25:20):

Right? And I felt like I was very much yelling at the clouds about this particular thing. It's just like when you hear somebody say, Hey, we're going to be south by Southwest. Well no you're not. You might be south by Southwest. The first year there was a South by Southwest, which I kind of envision as a bunch of people standing around in jean shorts playing Johnny Cash covers. It gets there just over a long term after retailer started when we got kicked out of the ski show and we had to go to Reno because they didn't want the dirty hippies at the ski show anymore. So people started budgeting for that and over the course of 20 years, budgets got bigger, boost got bigger, all that kind of stuff, and turned into what we now perceive it being always been, but it wasn't that way. And so none of these things are going to be these full fledged visions when they launch. But I will tell you, I think that putting something in mid-June is a good way to make your show fail to launch.

Colin (26:26):

Interesting. Yeah. Yeah. So it sounds like we have, I mean I'll come up with a business plan if you guys want me to, but rock con, rock fight con in July somewhere, I don't know, somewhere that they're doing. Let's have it in. Should we do it in Hawaii? Yes. The answer to that question is always yes.

Wes (26:47):

Yeah. I will attend on one condition and that is

Colin (26:50):

My ties.

Wes (26:51):

Oh, my ties while I'm manning the action figure

Colin (26:55):

Booth. Yeah. Alright, done. I'm Penn. See you in right now. We'll make a cool bartender like Tom Cruise cocktail style bartender. We get the squad of Karens standing behind you. Oh my God. A theme park. Yeah, the rock fight theme park. Yeah. God, we're going the wrong way about talking about this industry stuff. We should just be planning our theme park.

Wes (27:12):

I think it's perfect.

Colin (27:14):

Talk about something that people want back in their lives or theme parks, right? We went to 'em when we were kids. We kind of forgot about 'em. I don't think they're doing really well right now. Think disneyland's keeping Disney afloat. I don't think Disney Plus is doing real well right now. Good point. Alright, let's take a quick break. When we come back, I want to talk about how all of this relates to the outdoors and the bigger picture with stuff like the trillion dollar BEA report. We'll be right back.


This episode is brought to you by Switchback Spring, the new outdoor industry gathering for education, networking, and business. Coming to Nashville June, 2025. Connect with peers and players and gear footwear, apparel, hiking, camping, trail running, and more for three days of learning discovery and celebration. Switchback spring is the new go-to meetup for specialty retailers, brands, media and outdoor organizations. Mark your calendars for June 16, 18, 20 25. Visit switchback for all of the details and start planning your new outdoor industry adventure. Wes, one thing we may have talked us last time you were on, and I guess my last question for me, the one thing I keep coming back to, and I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but I think there is, especially on the heels of the trillion dollar report from the BEA last fall from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, are these outdoor economic conferences that are happening mostly state levels in their Bureau of Outdoor, the outdoor rec.


And when you see recaps from them and you talk to folks we know in the industry who go to the one, especially one in North Carolina where they get multiple states together and things like that, and there is commerce, there are brands who are represented because they're local and there is trail advocate groups who are there talking about how do we get more trails built or access issues get talked about. And then there's policy folks like the outdoor rec round table that shows up and presents and have those things there. I don't think it'll be that hard to add a sort of exhibitor layer to something like that where you, you could have brands show up to it to maybe kind of check all of the boxes and then it feels much more like the gathering of the tribe because an importance, there's an emphasis put on more things that are relevant to the entire space versus just we make stuff. You sell stuff and then sure, we'll invite the media and the nonprofits too. So when you think of something like that, is that intriguing or am I just sort of off the rails on something like that?

Wes (29:28):

I think it's intriguing. I think that think that you're not off the rails because I've been to those things and they're actually, man, they're very engaging and you see an energy and a dedication from the people who are really involved in those state offices and a real user-based enthusiasm in those. And

Colin (29:51):

I think it feels like the evolution of what we started, what your generation started, sorry to put it, point that out, but you're the one who said you're the one who brought Reno up in the eighties, so I don't feel like that, but No, but you know what I mean. It feels like an evolution from where this started in the seventies and eighties to the next step where it should go.

Wes (30:07):

Yeah, I think that the trick is with all this, right? When you start talking about trade shows, the calendar does rule it the most important thing or dates, and then the second thing that rules it are, as you pointed out, what's going to get some guy in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming to fly to the East coast for an event? Well, I don't know what the answer is there. It's going to have to be some sort of an unlock. I think the enthusiasm around those events could be an answer, but quite honestly, all of us are probably too self-centered to care too much about what's going on in trails and other states, right? There's got to be something that

Colin (30:50):

Relates. That's a good point. That's a point.

Wes (30:55):

It's the National Forest thing. I always talk to people about this when you get up and they happen around here. I live outside of a huge national forest, actually the first national forest in the US, and people show up all the time to the meetings that plan those things and build trails and it's all the locals because we're all very engaged in what's going to happen up there and we think our voices should be heard. They should. But the reality is is that those national forests are owned by you too as well. And you would have as much of a reason to come to that meeting and talk about what's going on in the Shoshone forest as I do. But it's not close to you. It's not that important to you so you don't show up. The trick for these trade shows is what is that thing?


What's close to you and what's important to you? And it's going to make you show up For us going to these buying shows, this is literally how we make our living. If we don't go to Reno and CGOA, we're out of business in 12 months, we have to go. What is the thing that makes you feel like you have to go? And just to tie this back around, your friends and your social circle are really an important part of that. And the question is actually, I think the huge question around that particular piece is after Covid with Zoom meetings and everything, do we still feel those social bonds strongly enough to get us to get on an airplane and fly to

Colin (32:24):

Nashville? Yeah, that's that's a good point. It's a sad point, but it's a good point. I don't feel that way. Screw all you guys. I do legitimately miss that. I really honestly do. I do too. No, I've said all the time, right? It five years. But finally I do legitimately miss it. Every single brand I worked for, we add a, do we still need to go to or conversation starting in 2006 forward and every single time we did. And a lot of times it was usually a budget conversation like, well, it was 2 million bucks, do we want to spend that? And there was always a, yeah, we got to be there because everyone else is there and it was like FOMO in the best possible way. Then we would make sure you'd show up. Never was not excited to go to or there were definitely shows when I was relieved to leave and then even when I left the industry in the first few years when I wasn't going, it was like I kind, that's okay. I'm glad I'm not going to that. But I always saw it was like there are people, I've said this before, there are people I'll never see again because I don't go to or twice a year anymore


Or even now if I did, they're not going to be there. The show has changed so much. But there were good friends I had who was like, oh, I'll see them in August and January.

Wes (33:31):

It is tough. It's kind of tough to leave that behind and maybe we need to, new people come in and work at the store and they hear about or and stuff. I will tell them it was really a big part of my life because if you look at going to, OR for 25 years, basically for two weeks a year, the OR floor had neighborhoods. Everybody knew where the TO and K Booth was in the corner and everything. I mean, that was a small town with 25,000 people that I lived in for a year, 25 times, two weeks. Totally.

Colin (34:10):

That's a wild, right? Your life was spent at the Salt Palace

Wes (34:13):

With all these people who had similar interests and were into similar things and we were doing business and we were having a cocktail or going to see music and all that stuff. And I think for those of us of a certain age and all three of us ha

Colin (34:30):

Yeah, you're right.

Wes (34:32):

There's a big part of our life that's no longer there. The question really is, are any of those things important enough going forward to generate another event that will ever be anything like or, and I'm not sure.

Colin (34:46):

Well, that's what the Rock Fight Trade Show Consultancy Group is built for. I'm glad you brought that up because anybody out there who's thinking of a new trade show or thinking about attending them, got to get our approval. Visit us at the Rock Fight Trade show Do you have the rate sheet for Wes? We want to pitch him now. We'll put on the podcast. Okay, great. I'm sorry. On the website, we'll put that on the website, but yeah, that's what we do.

Wes (35:12):

Perfect. Lincoln description.

Colin (35:15):

I think we are You good Justin? Anything else you want to No, I, that was a good wrap up. I do want to put Wes on the spot because offline he told me about an experience he had in Denver recently, and I think he should tell that story here where he visited Oma Safe for work and he visited the Akai booth at Oma.

Wes (35:32):

Ah, yeah. So I mean, I'm not sure if it's safe for Collin's work. I walked in, sorry, go into the, I'd actually never been

Colin (35:43):

There before. Yeah, that's the Outdoor Market Alliance for anyone listening

Wes (35:47):

And awesome setup, great people running. It takes a long time to walk through it. And toward the back, one of the rep groups, Michelle's rep group has Akai and I walk in and I look at around and the first thing I see is the complete pickleball collection,

Colin (36:07):

Of course with Colin's face on it, endorsed by, endorsed by Colin. True. I Kennedy bought the Col

Wes (36:15):


Colin (36:15):

Model. I'll flip right around on those pickleball shoes for the right price. Right. Well Justin, have you seen these shoes? They're amazing.

Wes (36:24):

Well, I think if you only know Achi from Flip Flops, they've got a pretty good sized line. It's obviously true.

Colin (36:31):

Which I've learned. Which I've learned. Yeah.

Wes (36:33):

But Michelle was there and I hadn't seen her in a while, said, Hey. And I said, okay, tell me about the pickleball shoes. Tell me what's going on. And her eyes lit up and she's like, this product's awesome. It's my top selling product right now. I'm placing it, I'm getting fill in orders. People are moving it through. These things are amazing.

Colin (36:56):

This is the Croc's nightmare. It's happening again. The thing that shouldn't succeed is succeeding. It's happening again. Justin,

Wes (37:02):

Not only anecdotally, from that person that I've known for a long time, not only is it working, it is currently her number one collection in the world. So

Colin (37:13):

Five years from now, the three of us are going to be on a podcast going, Hey, remember when Akai used to make flip flops? Totally. Oh, you mean the pickleball company? What? The World Pickleball Tour sponsored by Akai, by

Wes (37:24):


Colin (37:24):

This is, I believe this is how the Walking Dead actually started. If you go back and read the comics, it was started with pickleball. I will say that my main beef was that they weren't sandals because I assumed that they were a sandal brand and I thought they would do something wildly cool with pickleball sandals. That's my main beef. I get it. That they make a bunch of other shoes and pickleball. I'm sure they're really comfortable. I'm sure they breathe real nice. She's a Rocky Mountain rep, right? She's in Rockies. So who in the Rockies are outdoor specialty accounts buying them? It's your competition.

Wes (37:55):

It is. It's not sunlight sports. I did have a moment as I was walking out going,

Colin (37:59):

Huh? Should I get pickleball? I don't think pickleball. I mean, they're not, they're not playing pickleball in em. They're just, they're just going to beer gardens in 'em, I'm sure. Right? They're not that many people playing pickleball in the mountain west There can't be.

Wes (38:10):

I mean, I've got a little tiny town that I live in. They just built a dozen new pickleball players.

Colin (38:15):

Shut up. Are you serious? A dozen.

Wes (38:17):

Yeah. And they're full every morning and every evening.

Colin (38:21):

Well this edition at Pickleball Corner was brought to you by Sunlight Sports and Cody and Achi and not Sandals. Achi. Not Sanders. How far are away from the gear and beer? Will we review the pickleball shoes from Achi Justin? Fun. Honestly, let's get 'em. Let's get 'em. Yeah, I think you're right. We got to get 'em now. Alright man. Hey Wes, thanks so much for making a few minutes we to come on with us and joining us. We'll sure. We have you on again real soon to talk some more outdoor retail stuff. That's

Chris DeMakes (38:45):

Right. Sounds great. Can't wait to see you guys in Reno.

Colin (38:48):

Yeah, thanks Wes. Bye. Thanks Wes. Bye.


Alright, that's the show for today. What do you think? Are you excited for switchback? Would you rather see the show move to July or August? Send your feedback on this or any episode of the Rock. Fight to my rock. The rock Fight is a production of Rock Fight LLC. I'm Colin. True. Thanks for listening. Here he is. Like always. It's Krista makes one of the lead singers of lesson Jake, who shows up on every episode to take us out with the rock fight, fight song. Enjoy it and we'll see you next time. Rock fighters. Rock

Chris DeMakes (39:17):

Fight, rock fight. Rock fight. Rock fight. Rock fight, fight. Rock. Fight where we speak our truth. Stay sacred cows and sometimes agree to disagree. We talk about human power, outdoor activities and pick bites about topics that we find interesting. Black Five, culture, music, the latest movie reviews, ideas, aim for the head. This is where we speak our truth. This is where we speak our truth. Welcome.


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