We Make Buying an Adventure
Coffee, a run along the river on the Swamp Rabbit Trail, and egg and toast breakfast culminate in another anticipatory morning with Erin, Taylor and me, Townsend Bertram & Company's buying trio. This morning we are headed to Outdoor Sports Marketing (OSM), a rep group for some of the top brands in the outdoor industry, at their new headquarters in a beautifully revitalized warehouse in Greenville, SC. We are welcomed with delicious cups of Methodical coffee and smooth reggae jams and our rep Tony's vibrant energy. We dedicate a whole day to focus on the brands that OSM represents so we can focus on business planning for the next year and think critically as we choose styles for spring of 2018.
Today we will see all the awesome Chaco strap designs for next summer, exciting new styles from Vasque, well designed Smartwool socks and apparel, innovative Osprey packs and quality camping gear from Cascade Designs. We start with footwear. The Chaco and Vasque assortments for 2018 come together through brand insights from Tony, critical analysis of design from our buying team, reflective dialogue on the sell through from this season, and most importantly, much laughter and fun as we create merchandising stories around TB&C's future collections.
In true OSM style we head to lunch on sweet rides thanks to Carolina Triathlon. Tony takes the lead as we cruise down the Swamp Rabbit Trail and Taylor takes back, totally rocking his gold rimmed Suncloud aviators on his flaming green wheels. The breeze and sun and smell of fresh cut grass and summertime carry us to the even more delicious smell of White Duck Taco. Part of the role of good buyers is to build meaningful relationships with reps and brands and over lunch we share laugh out-loud stories from our youth. This is just one of the many examples of how hard work, pure fun, tacos, outdoor seating, and a shared passion for adventure break down the boundaries that often separate work from fun in many industries.
After lunch Tony takes us on an impromptu tour of Dapper Ink where the Landmark Project t-shirts are printed, a creative brand that "creates apparel inspired by iconic outdoor destinations." I loved learning about how the apparel helps sponsor under-resourced youth to discover life in the natural world through rafting, climbing and camping trips. Erin and Taylor both pick out bright sea green Linville Gorge shirts. I snag a Smokey Mountains Carolina Blue one.
"Well done," Taylor tells Tony. We are all sold on the Landmark Project as a new brand for the shop. We love the mission, the brand, the product and the rep behind it. Often people mistake the buying choices we make for the shop as purely product based. However, our buying team views quality not merely in terms of design, materials and construction of products, but we also consider the vision and purpose of the brand and the quality of the brand representative when deciding what to carry in TB&C.
Back at the OSM headquarters, Tony shares his excitement for the rest of the lines and we all geek out about the stitching on Smartwool PhD socks and the new packs Osprey will introduce to market next spring. We finish just in time for Erin to make it to her campground in Linville Gorge before dark. Taylor and I road trip back to Carrboro, buzzing with ideas for TB&C, feeling inspired by our energetic and creative outdoor industry compatriots.