The Business of Play


When Jeremy Collins received his trophy at the 2015 Outdoor Industry Inspiration Awards he took a few moments to acknowledge the many friends and colleagues who had inspired him. After 15 years working both as an artist and an athlete he received the support and encouragement of literally hundreds if not thousands of individuals who share his passion for outdoor recreation and adventure. And having successfully created a new feature film and a forthcoming book both called Drawn he also adds to his credentials the title of exhibitor with his own brand of t-shirts and apparel items called The Meridian Line on display at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market.ORWM15Day2-52

“I was bawling with tears of joy,” Jeremy said when he heard the news of his award. “I’m just so happy and grateful.”

He’s also quite humble. Knowing that he could never have accomplished all that he has without the support of others Jeremy is dedicated to supporting efforts of aspiring creatives like Adam Benton, author of The Acts of Good Journal. As a guest in his booth during the show Jeremy aims to help Adam experience a bit of the success he enjoys today.

“I had a lot of help over the years. When I was a scrappy young climber just starting out there were those who really helped me find my way. I want to do the same for others.”

Many who attended the 2015 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market can likely attest to the kindness and generosity of their colleagues. Along the aisles of the Salt Palace the proprietors of every booth offer along with the world’s finest recreation goods and services the sincere desire to encourage everyone they meet to have fun outside. At the core of every transaction from product design, to the procurement of raw materials, through manufacturing, merchandising, marketing and all the way to point of sale outdoor retail is about one thing: the business of play. And when populated by professionals whose job it is to encourage the joy and happiness of others the outdoor industry becomes far more than an institution of trade and commerce. Instead we enjoy the benefits of a remarkable ecosystem of camaraderie and friendship where even those individuals who aggressively compete with one another share the common goal of fun and adventure.

From the very first moments of the show during the All-Mountain Demo at the Solitude Resort every attendee seemed to embody this positive ethos. Though it might be naive to imagine the OR Show as some kind of utopian ideal, without a doubt the most successful of us in the outdoor industry are those you are having the most fun. By encouraging others to play the infectious enthusiasm of outdoor professionals creates an environment of prosperity where business can thrive.

ORWM15Day2-14Several keynote presentations during the show illustrated with great clarity the intrinsic nature of our work. Jeremy Gutsche kicked-off the show with a rousing presentation at the Outdoor Industry Association breakfast meeting. The author of the book Better & Faster and founder of offered up advice on how to turn passion inspired ideas into compelling business opportunities. At the Conservation Alliance meeting former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbit challenged everyone in the room to make outdoor recreation a relevant component of the U.S. economy and demand legislative action toward the preservation of wilderness. And newly appointed president and CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc. Jerry Stritzke announced in his talk to the Outdoor Industry Women’s Coalition a $1.5 million grant to the meant to mentor and encourage innovation among female entrepreneurs.

Throughout the five-day event OR Show attendees reveled in their common mission to improve the world in which they live through best professional practices. Certainly a recovering national economy had a lot to do with the bustling pace of this year’s Winter Market. Record low gas prices despite marginal snow conditions around the country may have prompted outdoor enthusiasts to travel to their favorite adventure destinations. But the fundamentals of our business remain the same. Manufacturers, retailers, outfitters, guides and resort operators continually drive the industry with raw passion and contagious energy in support of the outdoor activities they love. There are no losers in the business of play.

The Joy Trip Project is made possible with the support of the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market



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I'm a freelance journalist that specializes in telling stories about outdoor recreation, environmental conservation, acts of charitable giving and practices of sustainable living.

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