Mike Massey is the Former chairman of GOA. He is the former owner of three outdoor gear shops in Louisiana, called (appropriately) Massey’s, and is the founder and current owner of Locally.com, a service for local specialty retailers that connect online shoppers to nearby stores and brands within the specialty outdoor space.
In a few words, he’s trying to give our industry’s core brick and mortar retailers a fighting chance against the internet ‘big guys’. Mike will be attending The Big Gear Show this August to meet brands, scope new products, and to bring the word of Locally.com to more of his peers that have shops like Massey’s.
Mike agrees that The Big Gear Show provides a perfect venue to have authentic and intimate retailer to brand experiences that will further his business goals. Read on for more on this subject and in Mike’s own words.
TBGS: Mike give us some background about yourself how you ended up where you are today in the outdoor industry?
MM: I got started in a family sporting goods business. Third generation. My daycare was mostly putting price tags on incoming merchandise. After college and a brief stint in the finance world, I decided to come back to my family’s business and help transition the company away from general sporting goods and into specialty snow, ski, and outdoors.
TBGS: We know you have developed Locally and are changing relationships between large scale ecommerce sites and specialty retailers, can you tell us more about this company and it’s main message?
MM: We believe that online-informed local shopping is the primary consumer purchasing behavior. Virtually all shoppers are doing online product research before making a buying decision, but the vast majority end up in a nearby store. Locally was founded to connect the dots between how people shop and how they buy. We don’t think giving people street addresses is the best practice to get someone to buy your products.
TBGS: Being that you have a long history in owning Massey’s, How many large-scale multi-brand industry events have you been to over the years?
MM: Between Massey’s and Locally, I’ve attended every OR since Reno, every Grassroots show, countless SIA show(s), Interbike(s), Running Event(s), Surf Expo(s), and an unknown number of regional shows.
TBGS: What are some of the highlights that stand out in your mind? And why?
MM: Personally, I prefer smaller events with a more captive audience where there is a lot more of an opportunity to meet with peers – rather than a show that is stuffed with people tangentially attached to the industry.
TBGS: Trade shows have become this expensive challenge—or even burden—to brands for a number of years, what went wrong and when did it go wrong? Are they meeting specialty retailers needs?
MM: I think the transition from tradeshow to marketing spectacle has turned a lot of events into a game of one-upmanship that make buyers less likely to interact with the brands they are there to see. Plus, the focus on one-size-fits-all events that span multiple enormous venues and are insurmountable to navigate probably leave everyone feeling underwhelmed. Everyone needs to get an ROI from both the expenses and time invested in attendance.
TBGS: It seems like we’re at the opposite end of that now, though? We’re Zoom fatigued, and ready to shake hands (or at least elbow bump) and share a ride again. What do you think is the best way for the ‘collective industry’ to do this?
MM: IMHO, just like shopping online vs in a killer local store, Zoom meetings really just don’t build the type of social enthusiasm or influence for a brand that lead to lasting goodwill. Whether you are the final consumer or a retailer looking for products for your store, it is important to gain the feedback that only physical presence can foster. I personally want to see how busy booths are. I want to browse through aisles, quickly seeing things I may have not encountered before – and do that with my peers. I just can’t imagine a scenario where this can take place online.
TBGS: In your mind, how important is it to think as a collective or community, versus brand’s trying to dominate their own category?
MM: I firmly believe that monolithic business approaches are a very short-lived strategy. Brands that celebrate the fabric of the industry that will always exist beyond their grasp are the ones that garner the most trust and admiration. Those that work hard to consolidate the market tend to end up more like AOL; the subject line of many “remember when” conversations.
TBGS: What would you like to see from The Big Gear Show that has been missing in previous large events or trade shows? OR… If you were putting on your own trade show, what are the three things that you HAVE to include?
MM: 1, 2, and 3 would be A LOT more private meeting space. I can’t even begin to describe how many times I had a meeting that couldn’t happen in a booth AND where we ended up sitting on some crowded staircase… which was terrible. I’d also vote for less structured “speeches” and more of a hands-on workshop space that allowed people to come and go.. Like a POS learning area (sponsored by POS companies).
TBGS: Are you coming to the Big Gear Show? If so, what are you looking to get out of it?
MM: Yep. I’ll be there with the Locally crew (I retired from Massey’s in 2020) and I will be there to see friends, have meetings, and get back to feeling normal.
TBGS: Thanks for your time, Mike. We can’t wait to see you in person to share a bump, and a ride.