Pete’s Pick: Outdoor Retailer + Deschutes

Our team just returned from Denver and the Outdoor Retailer (OR) show – the largest gathering of outdoor brands in the world.

It’s hard to describe OR, but here goes:

Picture thousands of mini stores set up, each brand showing off next year’s newest products. Yep, we’re able to see the newest and latest gear before it hits the shelves. The idea behind OR is that retailers (think Walkabout outfitter, Outdoor Trails, Back Country, etc.) can see what’s coming down the pipeline and place pre-season orders. Manufacturers (think Keen, Mountain Khaki, Big Agnes, etc.) then know how much of a particular piece of gear they need to manufacture.

Our friends at Gear Junkie are there to find the best new gear. (See what they found in the OR Best in Show Winter Gear recap.)

OR is an interesting opportunity for the Roanoke Region because it gives us the opportunity to get in front of major brands. Many of the great outdoor companies you see at events such as the Roanoke GO Outside Festival come to the region for the first time thanks to that event. Our days were spent meeting with GO Fest partners as well as talking with companies that may be looking for an East Coast location (think, Deschutes Brewery, etc.).

And speaking of Deschutes … we had just arrived at the show and were forming our game plan when guess who walks up to us but none other than Michael LaLonde, CEO of Deschutes Brewery. I’ve known Michael for about five years now (we met back when we were recruiting Deschutes to Roanoke). Michael was at OR because he was just appointed to the Conservation Alliance board of directors and had his first board meeting at the show. We caught up and I took advantage of the opportunity to get an update on Deschutes Brewery’s East Coast facility.

To paraphrase our conversation, Deschutes is right on target per the timeline they laid out from the very beginning. They are definitely building a brewery here. The tasting room (which opened in August) was the first step in getting to know the Roanoke community. The chance to build a world-class brewery doesn’t come along all that often so the Deschutes team in charge of the brewery build is taking their time to ensure they get it right. The build team is currently working on design, engineering, and procurement. From the moment Deschutes announced they were coming to Roanoke, they said they would break ground in 2019 and Michael said they are sticking to that.

In the spirit of sharing, I want to invite you to join me for a beer at the Deschutes Tasting Room … maybe I’ll tell you about the time we took Michael to Texas Tavern. Roanoke Outside has been chosen as the February beneficiary of the Deschutes Community Pints program. Each month the chosen nonprofit receives a $1 from each pint sold every Tuesday of the month. We’ll be there each Tuesday in February starting around 5 p.m. Come say hi and who knows, maybe I’ll buy you pint.