This week I was invited to attend the GoOutdoors store in Colchester, to see what they have to offer and also to find out about some of their products and services, so I headed down there one evening to have a look around.
To me these stores are super exciting, I am like a child in a sweet shop. I spend so much of my time outside or exploring and I have an insatiable want for all the best kit for my activities. Therefore as a general rule I try not to shop too often as this often results in many impulse purchases and a lack of space to store these purchases when I get them home. Addicted? Maybe?
I actually think prior to this visit the last time I went into a GO Outdoors store was shortly before I went to Kilimanjaro, I needed so much stuff for this trip I spent hours poring over the various sleeping bags and camping mats amongst other items wanting to be certain I had the best options for my trek.
I was curious to know why GO Outdoors were focusing on increasing activity around their Colchester store – luckily their regional marketing manager Steph Hoy was on hand to help to explain.
Unfortunately the store was the victim of an arson attack back in late 2017. This meant the store needed some work to the shop face and all the stock was damaged causing the branch to close over the Christmas shopping period, but with a lot of hard work it was able to reopen for Boxing Day. It was decided that the store could go back to business as usual but they would do some relaunch events/activities later in the year, so that’s where I come in.
At this point I was introduced to Andrew Linstead who works in the Colchester Store and he would show me around and explain some of the activities the store caters for.
Andrew is a keen mountain climber and in addition to climbing mountains such as Kilimanjaro he has previously climbed Mount Everest, he did the full summit. This automatically turned him into a new idol for me. I don’t know why, and its a terrible misconception but I hadn’t thought that GO Outdoors would have such knowledgeable staff with such a breadth of practical experience. Having heard that I would like to summit Everest in the future Andrew showed me a lot of the equipment that would be needed for such an adventure, everything from recommended Merino fusion summit socks to curved ice axes and crampons, also liquid based fuels as gas can freeze at altitude. Again, previously I don’t think I had realised the variety of equipment that GO Outdoors stocked, I was impressed to say the least. However if there are any items that aren’t in store you can speak to a member of staff and it is highly likely they will be able to order it in for you, another service I was unaware of.
Andrew also gave me some outdoor tips, such as using a citrus based shower gel to help as an insect repellent and also when using some of the mountain fuel packs he recommends eating chocolate pudding for breakfast as it has more carbs and sugars than some of the breakfast food packs you can get, setting you up better for the day ahead- chocolate for breakfast, winning! When can I start my trek?!
As we walked round the store there were some areas that I found particularly impressive. The store has a climbing wall, climbing schools can come in and try out climbing shoes on the walls, in addition to cadets often coming in to practise climbing and get used to the feel of the billet. Its not just for children, adults can also use and benefit from the wall.
The next area to impress me was the ‘Camping Field’. They have an outside area with numerous tents set up on an artificial grass area designed to mimic an actual camping field – minus the mud. These tents ranged from festival tents all the way to 8 person tents with multiple bedrooms that felt like a palace. It was great to be able to see them fully set up and walk around in them, this actual look and feel is something that you just can’t gauge from pictures on the internet etc. Again here Andrew had a tip, apparently the temperature in one of the tents that afternoon had hit 42 degrees, placing a foil blanket over the top of your tent can reflect some of the heat, although the blanket needs to be secured and you should be careful as the blanket can become very hot. Makes sense I guess, we use reflective foil covers for car windscreens etc. I had never considered constructing something similar for a tent.
After a grand tour and great explanations of the stores offerings from Andrew I was left to my own devices to explore.
The Colchester store includes items for cycling, hiking, camping, horse riding, fishing, running and many other sports. Where to start? Not fishing, whilst I enjoy many outdoor pursuits I have a fear of fish, but I do quite like the idea of just camping at the water’s edge, reading a book or similar, just without the actual fishing element… But everything else appeals to me. Adam had just arrived at this point as he was going to drive me home, and he had different ideas – Fishing nets it was…
We had a good explore I could have spent hours between the outdoor clothing and equestrian sections. The store also has a cycling section with a number of different types of bikes. GO Outdoors accept Cyclescheme vouchers, and in addition to a comprehensive pre-delivery inspection they also offer a free 6 week service for bikes purchased in store to check your bike over and make sure everything is working as expected once you have had a chance to use it for a few weeks.
In addition to being a retailer GO Outdoors also do demonstrations and talks to schools, scout groups and those working towards their Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) awards, these are done either in the store or out on site at the schools or scout groups etc. This gives an opportunity to introduce children to outdoor sports and pass on knowledge and experience which is particularly valuable to those embarking on their DofE award, for which GO Outdoors are the recommended retail partner. I was told these sessions are quite fun and interactive and can involve treasure hunt type activities where those involved have to discover and identify certain items of equipment within the store. A great way of getting the younger generation involved whilst familiarising themselves with outdoor equipment. These activities are a fantastic example of a retailer going above and beyond expectation in order to provide a great and interactive customer experience.
They were also able to advise and fit items such walking boots, backpacks and climbing shoes. With artificial slopes to walk up when trialing boots or shoes and weight packs available to test in backpacks you can ensure that the kit will perform in exactly the way you expect it to, with the help of some expert advice and great customer service from the guys in store. GO Outdoors offer a variety of products to suit all budgets and can recommend items that are good, better or the best available according to your budget. So next time you need some kit or equipment for an outdoor adventure you might want to try popping along to GO Outdoors.
This post was written in collaboration with GO Outdoors, however all opinions are my own.