Our Staff Training Philosophy: See It, Touch It, Try It, Know It

Events / Ideas & Advice

At Eastern Mountain Sports, we’re lucky that the vast majority of our store associates are natural born gear heads. Many of them know the features and benefits of our latest camping, climbing and backpacking gear before the shipments even arrive in their stores. That said, there’s a difference between knowing our products inside and out and being able to recommend the RIGHT product for a specific customer’s ability, activity and budget.

That’s where staff training events like the one we just concluded in Stevensville, Maryland come in. Held at the beginning of our spring and winter seasons, these outdoor training events enable our store guides to hear all about the latest gear straight from the brands who create it.

A rep from Patagonia breaks down the finer points of their 2013 footwear collection.

As much as we appreciate regular visits to our stores from brand representatives, nothing helps the information sink in like gathering together at a campground and using tents, packs, and sleeping bags in the outdoor environment they were made for.

Staff Listening

Field training events give our store staff the opportunity to get their questions answered by brand experts, some of whom were directly involved in the design and/or manufacturing process.


As our friends at Backpacker’s Pantry say: “The number one thing our customers want to know about freeze-dried trail food is how it tastes. The only way to answer that question is to taste it!” From Juevos Rancheros for breakfast to Jamaican BBQ chicken for dinner and creme brulee for dessert, we offer more than 35 different meals from Backpacker’s Pantry and our store guides got to sample any one they wanted.


Some of our brand partners get pretty creative at our training events. This time, the crew from Moving Comfort stole the show with their interactive sports bra display (complete with bouncy tent) designed to help our predominantly male staff to understand how a well-made, properly fitting sports bra can help female customers to enjoy better outdoor experiences. Look for MUCH more about this display and how sports bras are no laughing matter in a future post coming soon!


It’s not all listening and question asking. Since our guides are the ones who hear customer feedback first, they also have the opportunity to share their suggestions for improvement.

More than two dozen of our most popular brand partners made the trip to Maryland last week and nearly all of them will be traveling to New Hampshire in a few weeks to conduct a similar training event for our staff members who work in stores north of New York. It’s all part of our commitment to make our people the most knowledgeable, credible and authentic store associates in the outdoor business. If you don’t experience this commitment in your next store visit, on our live chat at ems.com, or on the other end of our customer support line (888-463-6367) please leave a comment so we know where we need to improve.

Jim Darroch

Jim's love for the outdoors began with family camping trips in "Brady Bunch" style canvas tents and progressed to backpacking adventures with the Boy Scouts. In 2007, he fulfilled his teenage dream by joining Eastern Mountain Sports as Brand Communications Manager. When he's not in the office, you'll find Jim kayaking, hiking, and mountain biking around the Monadnock Region and throughout New England with his wife Brenda and his dog Brewski.