The Outside Experience
Presented by Outside Magazine and Go-RVing
The booth is neat and tidy, the swag arranged on the table in a tantalizing fashion, and the arena quietly waiting to open its doors to thousands of Chicago area residents ready to explore the outdoor brands and gear waiting inside.
This was Blop’s first experience at an outdoor exhibition, and we were excited, nervous and anxious all at once to see the public’s response to our gear.
The Outside Experience exhibition was held at the McCormick Place in downtown Chicago this July. The expo featured a number of popular outdoor brands including Coleman, Fjallraven, Solomon, Scarpa, and Marmot, as well as a hefty plethora of start-ups and social groups. Bringing all these brands together under one roof for customers to enjoy was no easy feat, and we were grateful for the opportunity to participate.
For two days, expo attendees spilled through the Lakeside Center on the shore of Lake Michigan. From behind our carefully crafted booth – which showcased the bold colors and unique tent styles of Blop – we watched as the crowds funneled through the arena. We were pleasantly surprised by the interest many showed in our bright green Blop tent, positioned front and center in our booth. It was exciting to watch these new customers light up when they saw the design and colors of our 3-person tent, which stood out in sharp contrast to the typical camping gear. During these interactions, we focused on telling Blop’s story.
We shared our vision for Blop to be something different in the camping world, and how we achieved this by taking the traditional dome tent and putting our own spin on it to create something super functional, yet also bold and fun. Over the weekend we received feedback that Blop was both affordable and reliable, and not at all intimidating or “techy”. Many also loved the tent’s bright colors and unique dewdrop shape – designed to add functionality, as well as personality.
With nearly 200 vendors in attendance, there was a lot to see. When walking in, visitors were welcomed to the ultimate gear shop – which included everything from water filters and RV’s, to kayaks and bikes. All items were displayed in a way that encouraged visitors to try them out.
Fishing clubs hosted casting clinics and contests, footwear companies like Scarpa and Soloman hosted demos on a massive indoor trail, and plenty of SUPs and kayaks sat just outside, ready to be tested on the beautiful waters of Lake Michigan.
Promoting the outdoors in many fun and inclusive ways like this seems to be a growing trend in the outdoor market, and we are glad Blop was there to play a role.
By the time the doors finally closed on Sunday, the two-day event had attracted a few thousand visitors. We ran out of all of our swag and brochures (not to mention energy!), but the event was an absolute blast.
The idea to bring a large-scale show like the Outside Experience exhibition to an urban area like Chicago might seem counter-intuitive, but we think Outside Magazine nailed it. It was great to meet so many incredible outdoorsmen and women, and get a feel for how folks who live in the city maintain such a passion for the outdoors.
We are excited to help introduce a brighter and bolder way of camping as the outdoor market continues to expand into more developed, urban areas!