A pro walks into a gear shop

A Pro Walks Into A Gear Shop…

​​In our blog post, Do You Have Your Local Retail Store’s Back?, we provide tips and tools for Outdoor Prolink pros to make meaningful connections with their local retail stores. As a follow-up on that topic, we talked to several retailers and pros to understand the best way for a pro to interact with a local retail shop when they have a pro deal and may not be coming into a shop to buy gear at full price. In this post, we talk about why it’s so important to be transparent and open with your local retail store about your pro status. 

After talking to Outdoor Prolink members, one topic came up time and time again: It can be an awkward conversation to walk into your local store and admit that you’re an industry professional and get discounts elsewhere. While this might feel like forbidden territory, the reality is that retail store owners and staff prefer for pros to be open from the onset of the relationship about who they are, rather than keeping it a secret.  

If you’re a pro heading into a local retail shop, we suggest following these steps:

  1. Be transparent and honest about who you are and what you do in your local outdoor community: “Good morning! My name is Jenny, I work as a Raft Guide at River Rats Rafting. I love this shop!”

“We’d love it if pros would be upfront and transparent. If you need to try on a jacket for sizing but don’t plan to buy at our store, we’d appreciate customers to just let us know. We totally understand! We just don’t want to hear people in the shop talking to their friends in the shop saying, ‘Oh I can get that at a discount for you.’”

-Travis Underwood, Previous Owner, Chopwood Mercantile in Crested Butte, CO

  1. Let them know that because you work in the outdoor industry, you get gear discounts: “I was hoping to try on a pair of Mogul Man Ski Boots. Because of my outdoor industry job, I do have access to these boots on pro deal. Would you mind helping me try on a pair today? I’m also happy to come back on a different day or at a different time if that works better for you!”

“I 100% like to know if someone is a “pro”. I have no problem helping them or answering questions but I can let them know that they may not get my full attention if there are other customers with needs. The worst is when they spend two hours trying on a bunch of shoes and then tell me they have a pro deal. This may sound like a joke but I’m dead serious – tell all “pros” to show up on a weekday, with beer, identify themselves, and they can try on as many ski boots/climbing shoes as they desire as long as it’s not impacting the experience of other customers. Also, bring our ski shop the work (tune/mount) after they order it, spread the stroke!”

-Anonymous retail manager tip 

  1. Be discreet! Be upfront with retail shop employees about who you are, but don’t flaunt it in front of other customers who don’t get gear discounts. And we hope this goes without saying…you cannot use your pro deals in local retail shops, so please do not ask!

“We don’t want them to make a huge deal of it in front of other customers. Be discreet about your deals.”

-Cameron Sullivan, eCommerce Associate, Alabama Outdoors // Water & Oak Outdoor Co. in Birmingham, AL

  1. Treat store owners and staff with respect and expect general consumers are going to take precedence if needed. We highly recommend trying to go into a shop during slower hours in an effort to not take time away from customers paying full price.

“Think about this question: are you using our time? We’re fine to help you but recognize that our main goal is helping paying customers. Let’s chat during slow hours or via email before you come in. We want to build a relationship with you but when our time gets taken advantage of, that is when it’s frustrating.”

-Michael Warner, Store Manager, Cripple Creek Backcountry in Seattle, WA

  1. If you need gear tune-ups, repairs, or a ski mount, bring them to your local shop to show your support!

At Outdoor Prolink we believe that specialty retail is a critical channel for our brand partners. Because of this, supporting and growing that channel is central to our purpose. As an Outdoor Prolink pro there are so many ways you can support and build your relationships with your local stores, and doing so will help you, too! 

Remember, doing things like going to your local store to pay for tune-ups and other services, bringing a 6 pack of beer in for the staff to get to know them, and even buying essentials – even smaller items like a box of Clif Bars, chapstick, cord, energy bars/gels, socks, gloves, local guidebooks, stickers, etc. – are all ways to show that you value and appreciate your local store. On top of those ways, you can also lift up your favorite gear shops by following and engaging with them on social media, writing online reviews, and attending local events they host.

“Reviews are as helpful as a sale in some cases. If we help you at a shop, slide us a review, stars are good, stars and a comment are best.”

-Anonymous retail manager tip 

If you haven’t already, check out our first piece in the Dirtbag Dreams blog post, Do You Have Your Local Retail Store’s Back?

About the Gear Tester

Outdoor Prolink Pro

Kelly Knauf is on the marketing team at Outdoor Prolink. When she’s not doing handstands, you’ll find Kelly camping, snowboarding, and grooving on the dance floor.

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