Shopping is not a word that you will find passing my lips regularly. In fact, if I can do it online from the comfort of my computer, I am one happy girl. However, there is always the exception to the rule. There is GO Outdoors. Seriously, if you love the outdoors but haven’t been yet; go! I say that with great conviction as I have just, yesterday morning, taken Allysse from Beste Glatisante there. All because of her small confession over on my YouTube channel that she has never been! (Oh and because we needed to kit her up with some bungee cords for her bike bag so that it didn’t fall of on her cycle touring up to Clitheroe)
Anyway, I digress from the main point of this blog post, GO Outdoors Preston Store.
Go Outdoors Preston Store Launch
I am incredibly lucky to have a GO Outdoors store on my walk to and from Manchester city centre, but it can all get a bit samey if you just stick to the same one. So when I was invited to attend the GO Outdoors Preston store opening on Saturday, I couldn’t really say no. Partly because I fancied being nosy and also because I heard that they have a couple of new brands coming into store. It worked out well (perhaps not so much for my bank account) that I was heading to the Outdoor Bloggers camp afterwards, so I had my head in the right place for browsing gear.
Thinking about it, GO Outdoors is like the outdoorsey adult version of Toys R Us. There is so much temptation that you really can’t resist buying just a few bits to “improve” your kit or just “make life outdoors better” (you know the kind of reasoning I mean, right? But it always works out well that it does help you with your adventures, so it is totally justified)
I arrived at Deepdale Retail Park in Preston around 9:45 am, which I had assumed would have me finding a quiet car park. I was wrong. It was busy already! I think most of the cars had contained people there for GO Outdoors, as I discovered on walking into the store. The queue for the till was literally to the back of the store and trolleys were overflowing with amazing outdoor gear. Obviously I was nosing from the side of my eye, while checking out what else was about, looking for deals. Some of the shelves were even out of stock and the poor staff were hurriedly trying to restock as quickly as they could. I was certainly feeling right about it being a land of temptation!
As well as your usual radio DJs, there were some four-legged VIPs in attendance. It seems that many of us outdoor folk love a canine companion to adventure with. The Dogs Trust had a table to the back where we could meet with some absolutely gorgeous dogs that were up for adoption. Thankfully one is already reserved, but Charlie is still available if you’re looking for a new pal! If you didn’t already know, you can bring your dog friend into all GO Outdoors stores – there are even bowls with water and treats. Now that’s customer service.
Of course I spent plenty of time getting licks and kisses from the dogs, but I also had some browsing to do. There are so many amazing departments in one store that I had to keep my feet moving to make sure that I checked it all out before I ran out of time or it all sold out!
Kit, gear and stuff
After my semi-brief distraction by the dogs, I got stuck into checking out the gear. Although the store is small-ish, it seems bigger in a way. Yeah, there might not be so many tents pitched and you might not be able to see for miles, but it felt more intimate. More like you were shopping with friends in a local place. And that was a nice feeling, in my book. The winning thing for me in stores like this though, has to be that the staff are outdorsey too and actually know what they are talking about. We are all beginners once and getting the right advice is the key to keeping us going.
Downstairs is mainly for clothing, shoes and, my favourite item, bags. In addition to that there is the specialsed climbing gear, tech section (another favourite) and the reproofing products (ahem, another favourite).
My guide around the store, Ian, expertly took me through all of the product ranges and introduced me to some new ones that are in store now.
Stepping away from the big brands
I will admit that I often find that when I go into GO Outdoors, or any outdoor store for that matter, I have a tendency to either head for the big brands or to the sale section. This sometimes means overlooking some of the smaller brands which might actually be better and more affordable. As such, I learned about GO Outdoors new products in the OEX range, which I admit had caught my eye because of both the above reasons; price and quality.
The special thing about the OEX brand is that they are designed by people who love adventure. They do it and know what will make life easier; whether it is a more compact design, lighter weight or added technical features. They don’t just do clothes either, it extends to tents, chairs and your other outdoor essentials. That’s not to say that you can’t get those well-known brands, as you can, it is just that it did make me reconsider my options and I wanted to give you the heads up too.
I am so impressed with the OEX gear that I have my eye on the OEX Women’s Igneous Stretch 250 Fleece to replace a Regatta one that I have had for years. See, I told you it is a dangerous place to visit. (but only in a good way!)
Tents, bikes and fishing
Talking about the OEX tents brings me nicely to the stock that is presented upstairs. The store is in no way big enough to display all of the tents in the range, but the display that they have created has something for everyone. From the lightweight backpacking tents, to DofE tents and the family tent with the included living area. The others can be viewed on the display board and the staff in the camping department are the perfect people to answer all the questions you might have about getting started, upgrading or ideal accessories.
Despite thinking that I had everything that I could possibly need for my camping trip, I still managed to grab a Sea to Summit X-Pot on my way around the camping gear.
Although the upstairs is somewhat smaller than the downstairs, they have filled it with a vast array of gear in a way that isn’t overwhelming. From what I saw, they had the full range from budget (perfect for those staring out) to the highly technical gear for the more expert or weathered amongst us. I found this useful for working out which level I would be at and it also meant that it was easier to budget too.
I found myself fascinated by the fishing gear and the bikes. I can honestly say that I have no idea about fishing stuff, but it was certainly proving popular with the customers I saw shopping there. And the Calibre (own brand) bikes are award-winning and affordable.
It was amazing to see that in just four years, GO Outdoors have come far enough to be bringing in awards for their own products. I think it is a testimony to the development team knowing what we want.
Time to go
After almost four hours of browsing, fraternising with the dogs and learning about the new ranges and products, it was time for me to make a move. I managed to choose only two products from the store, which was a feat in itself. Although saying that, I do have a list of other bits that I will be buying in the not too distant future.
My purchases consisted of the Sea to Summit Pan and the Kathmandu Transfer Pack – another new brand to GO Outdoors and one that I will be keeping a close eye on – which has caused all kinds of interest from my fellow outdoor bloggers. I am not going to go into the products here, but keep an eye on my YouTube Channel for “unboxing” and reviews over here.
Oh and there’s a cafe!
Before I left though, I just had to check out the cafe. It is not how you would imagine a cafe in an outdoor shop to be, not only can your pups go in with you, but you get delicious looking cakes and sit beneath rainbow chandeliers with a view out into the open. It was a surprise to me, but I do think a good addition, especially if you spend four hours there like I did.
Slightly disappointed by the thought of my car picnic and homemade sandwiches, I headed back to the car with my loot. Excited to share my experience and purchases with my Outdoor Blogger friends at the camp, I drove away from GO Outdoors Preston Store with a smile on my face. I am sure I’ll be back, especially as it is about time I redid the Parbold Circular (without getting lost) and Brockholes too.
Honestly, if I hadn’t have needed to head off for the camp, I could have browsed for much longer, I still didn’t check it all out!
If you fancy a bit more from the GO Outdoors Preston store lunch day, how about checking out my vlog. You’ll also get to see more of the Kathmandu bag, my new pan and me sat on the loo – just for that dash of randomness.
Are you a fan of GO Outdoors? What do you have on your list to get from them next?
Let me know in the comments, so we can encourage each other to buy more cool stuff for our adventures!
As I always say, friends are the best bad influence! 😉
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for GO Outdoors Preston Store. I received compensation for writing this post. However, as always, all photographs, content and opinions are honest and my own.
PS: If you’re looking for the Mills & Boon version from the Outdoor Bloggers camp, you’ll have to wait until next week when I have finished it! 😉