SIA Newsletter

Ali Levy’s Merchandising Tips: Shop Profile- Onion River Sports

Onion River SportsCelebrating 40 years this June, Onion River Sports (ORS) is an anomaly in America’s smallest capital city of Montpellier, Vermont, operating three distinct storefronts on both sides of one city block: Onion River Sports, which stocks men’s and women’s technical apparel and gear, The Shoe Horn at Onion River, a higher end boutique featuring men’s and women’s clothing and footwear, and Onion River Kids. In addition to the downtown storefronts, Onion River also oversees three successful online businesses based in an off-site warehouse that focus on car racks, cross country gear and snowshoes.

When I met the ORS marketing director Carrie Baker, one of my first questions was about her position. Why would a specialty store need a marketing director? With her explanation it became clear that ORS, The Shoe Horn and ORK all have their own brand and need to be addressed as such – from email blasts to special events and sponsorships.

As the store expanded over the decades, ORS had made a conscious effort to develop unified marketing plans and signage campaigns. This has encouraged streamlined media buys, events specific to each store’s distinct target audience and periodic “buff up” meetings. This includes gatherings with local businesses, friends of ORS and folks who have never shopped there. They conduct focus groups to gather direct feedback from the local community that helps guide their product offerings. Read More

Ali LevySIA is working with visual merchandising consultant Ali Levy to provide retailers with some fresh merchandising ideas for increasing sales and interest from consumers. Levy’s impressive resume includes managing retail, buying and trade show/retail merchandising efforts for some of the industry’s biggest names including The North Face, SmartWool, Cloudveil and Marmot. For more information about her company, contact Ali at or visit her website,