Outdoor Sports Marketing (OSM) is our rep agency for several brands at TB&C including, Chaco, Osprey, Therm-a-rest, MSR, Platypus, SealLine, PackTowl, The Landmark Project, Smartwool and Vasque. We have worked with them for ten years to create strong product assortments that resonate with our local customer base. Like TB&C, OSM is investing in their local community of Greenville, S.C. in unique ways to bring vibrancy, create accessibility to the outdoors, and to protect the wild places. OSM is the conduit for consistent communication between the makers of quality products and retail partners in diverse markets. Their commitment to crafting community oriented partnerships with their vendors, specialty retailers, and their local population makes them an impactful agency in our industry.
Rep agencies provide specialty retail shops like ours with the support we need to tell the stories behind the products and brands we carry. Collaborative relationships between brands and specialty retailers are the bedrock of the outdoor industry and essential for the success of mom and pop shops like TB&C.
Only with strong reps who advocate for specialty retail can we offer events that support our nonprofit partners and raise awareness around the local causes close to our hearts. Most importantly, OSM and other agencies provide education for our entire team so that when customers walk through our doors they are getting the best experience possible with our team and the products in store.
I want to invite you to join in a conversation with Rion Smith, co-owner of OSM, for a behind the scenes look at how retailers like us work with the brands to build unique customer experiences that focus on growing the number of outdoor advocates.
What is your mission, purpose and values that guide your business with your retail partners?
Our mission is to connect the makers of the best product to the enablers at our specialty retailers in every market across the southeast to empower them to help their customers have the most comfortable and safe experience outside. These experiences outside will help create more advocates for protecting outdoor spaces and growing the inclusivity of the outdoor industry.
Our values are old school and center around the concept of respect everyone and respect the earth. We work to create a culture where everyone is safe to stand up for what they believe in.
You represent many brands. Tell us what qualities you look for in choosing brands to represent.
First and foremost the product has to be great. Another essential piece is ensuring the brands values reflect our own. It comes back again and again to the people and the meaningful relationships we build through engaging and listening during the time spent outdoors together using the products we represent.We like to work with brands who have strong leadership, who continue to challenge us, and who we can learn from.
How do rep agencies benefit brands, retailers and consumers? Explain the intersectionality and interconnectedness of these channels.
We have to represent our specialty retail customers, markets, and consumer needs back to the brands we work with. In turn, it is also our responsibility to represent the products and stories from the brands to our retail partners. We have to advocate for everyone in our industry and work to create greater inclusion. We see specialty retailers as the vehicle for bringing all facets of our industry together to have authentic conversations that invite the consumer into the discussion about how we can make a greater impact as a collective community in preserving our natural world.
Tell us about some of the community engagement work you are doing as an agency? Why do you see this as an important part of your business?
I’ve looked for an opportunity to make an investment in Greenville, S.C. where I have lived and worked for 20 years. While many opportunities arose over the years, I never could have envisioned what we have been a part of creating today. When the opportunity to invest in an abandoned warehouse proposed to be a part of Greenville’s largest public park came up, we knew we had found the perfect space for our vision. We see the Commons as an investment in our community to provide more accessibility, experiential education, and accountability around our natural areas.
I was recently elected to Vice President of the Friends of the Reedy River organization that works to protect the river that runs through downtown Greenville that is under stress due to the development in our area. Through this and our teams regular river clean ups, we raise awareness around the importance of protecting our local, natural resources. Even more importantly though, I see our presence in the community and our own engagement in the environment around us as the most powerful impact we have in creating daily awareness around the Reedy River and green spaces.
We also work with the Conservation Alliance and have been lucky enough to nominate local environmental organizations focused on putting land in conversation easements for grants.
With our retail partners and brands we work to support promotions in local markets that are visible to the consumer. We value promotions that are value and giving oriented to enable specialty retailers to invest in their local community. We want to help retailers and brands tell stories and invest in organizations that protect our customers outdoor play spaces. We see giving promotions as far more powerful than devaluing our products and diminishing our impact through discounting products to drive business. By investing in giving promotions we are training customers to vote with their values through purchases rather than discounting products which devalues our brands and diminishes our impact as an industry.