Posted February 26, 2013 in Adventure Journals by Jim Markel
These friendly Canadians went out of their way to pay a visit to the Red Oxx Factory Showroom located in Billings, Montana. After all, it’s the only place you can, "…get his (your) hands on them in person." It quickly turned into a "kids in a candy store experience." And reinforced that Red Oxx Bags aren’t just designed and built for air travel.
Visiting the Red Oxx store in Billings was not on our original itinerary. But like the suitcase siren it is, the store lured us irresistibly to the point where we drove an extra two hours out of our way just to see it. Being there, and meeting the fantastic Red Oxx staff, was worth every extra gallon of gas.
We had originally planned to make a bee-line trek across the northern plains from our home in Calgary, Alberta to Minneapolis/St. Paul—some 1,200 miles in all. As I packed my Air Boss, which I’ve taken everywhere for several years now, my wife Brenda oohed and aahed yet again. We’re devoted fans of the one-bag packing philosophy espoused by Doug Dyment, but Brenda’s bag (from a well-known supplier who shall remain nameless) just didn’t offer her the room or the flexibility of my Air Boss.
While Brenda always admired my Air Boss, she has stuck with her bag solely because it converts into a backpack. As a woman of slight physical stature, she finds this feature a necessity, especially on long, fast walks between airport gates. I reminded her that Red Oxx had introduced the Sky Train—essentially an Air Boss with built-in backpacking straps—and suggested that perhaps a detour to Billings was in order.
I had my reasons of course: a guy can watch the glorious spinning bags on the Red Oxx website for only so long before he has to get his hands on them in person.
We arrived in Billings after 10 hours on the road, slept soundly, and were at the store minutes after the Red Oxx staff unlocked the door on the following morning. The store was easy to find on the east side of downtown and looked every bit the frontier trading post we had expected. Inside, brightly coloured cases cascaded across the room like the flags of many nations and spilled onto the exposed aggregate floor with its impressive two-foot Red Oxx logo in front of the central sales desk.
Sitting behind the desk was Tallon Jones with his big smile and warm welcome. Perhaps sensing our mania, and not wanting to get in harm’s way, he wisely left us to browse unmolested. Within minutes we had inspected all the display racks, hefting piece after piece as we circumnavigated the floor. We were like kids in a candy store.
Brenda came to her senses first. Taking a Sky Train from the rack, she asked Talon to step her through its virtues. He did so with enthusiasm. While they chatted, I roamed the store until my luggage lust settled on a dark blue Rock Hopper sling. So tempting, so very tempting. Then, remembering why we had come, I reluctantly turned my back on the Rock Hopper in time to see Brenda and Talon seal the deal on a purple Sky Train. Talon gave the bag an impromptu but much appreciated final quality check and rang up the sale. Brenda beamed.
As if Tallon’s top-notch sales service wasn’t enough, he volunteered to give these two cartage-crazy Canadians a tour of the manufacturing part of the building. We jumped at the chance and were soon running our hands over huge bolts of fabric in the cutting room, chatting with the staff who assemble the bags, and kidding about my suitcase-centric email relationship with Amanda, the lovely person who handles customer inquiries. We felt like part of the extended Red Oxx family. It was the perfect way to start our vacation.
That night, far down I-94, in a hotel room in Bismarck, North Dakota, Brenda emptied her old bag onto the bed and re-packed the contents into her new Sky Train. Everything fit beautifully with plenty of room to spare. She easily hoisted the full bag onto her shoulders and it sat perfectly balanced on the small of her back. For the first time in years of traveling, I didn’t fear she would tip over. She hasn’t stopped smiling since.
Sometimes the most rewarding journey is just around the corner.
Barry Potyondi, Calgary Alberta Canada
We really enjoyed your visit Barry. We wish all of our customers could come to Billings and visit our store. If you’re lucky, you too, might even get a tour of the facilities. For their wonderful "Adventure Journal," Barry or Brenda get their choice of Rigger Wallet or Market Tote. When will we hear about about YOUR adventure? ~ Cheers, Jim Markel CEO