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How To: Open an Outdoor Retail Store

Dear Mountain Mama,

When I turned forty, I decided to quit my banking gig and put my MBA to use as an outdoor retailer. My goal is to open an independent outdoor gear and clothing store. How do I get connected with the distributors or sales reps from whom I’ll be buying inventory? Also, I’d like to distribute your magazine.


Aspiring Outdoor Retailer


Dear Aspiring Outdoor Retailer,

Congratulations on pursuing your dreams! Your next step is to build relationships with distributors and sales reps. And the place to start is OR, which stands for Outdoor Retailer. It’s a tradeshow venue for outdoor specialty retailers in Salt Lake City, Utah. The summer market is slated for July 31-August 3, 2013. But you’ll want to head out at least a day early for the Open Air Demo, where you’ll get to try out the latest in kayaks, stand up boards, camping gear, GPS systems, and more.

OR is where small regional shop owners like yourself get to connect with sellers from all over the world and check out the latest and greatest in outdoor gear. At the show, new accounts are formed and orders are written. The only hitch is that buyer attendance is subject to approval. That means not just anyone can go. Luckily for you, new business owners can send a letter of intent along with their attendance application. The letter needs to be from an attorney or bank on official letterhead stating the type of business you plan on starting. You’ll find more info on their website at

Also, continue reading BRO for reports of gear made in the Blue Ridge, like the article recently posted here. Contact info is provided in the article for the makers of these fine locally made products. Give them a call, I’m sure they’ll be happy to hear from you.

Aspiring, as for distributing copies of BRO in our store, just let us know when you’ve scheduled your opening day!

Best of luck,
Mountain Mama

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