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Custom Tents & Flags For Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Tradeshow
2016-08-08 17:35:34

Every year around this time, an exodus ensues from Steamboat Springs to Salt Lake City for the annual Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Tradeshow, held this year Wednesday through Sunday. This season, estimates place as many as 100 locals descending upon the outdoor industry’s biggest gathering, all in the name of meeting with buyers, sellers, media and more.

This year’s pilgrimage includes local manufacturers looking to showcase their new wares, outdoor retailers sniffing out new products to carry for the upcoming season, members of public relations firms, independent reps, athletes and more — all conducting business in a festive setting while attending seminars, workshops and obligatory parties. At least nine local outdoor companies are exhibiting at this year’s show.

“It’s a great gathering of the outdoor tribe,” said Paige Boucher, attending the show as founder of Inside-Out PR, whose clients include The North Face, Mystery Ranch packs and Mojo, a solar-powered speaker company. “People migrate there from all over the world to see each other and conduct business.”

And despite all the revelry, that’s the bottom line. “The show allows small brands a level playing field with larger brands and delivers an audience that all brands need,” said former show director Kenji Haroutunian, adding it’s just as important for smaller brands from towns such as Steamboat as for larger corporations. “The opportunities are comparable, regardless of a brand’s size or marketing budget.”

Companies attending from Steamboat include such larger companies as Smartwool, Honey Stinger and Big Agnes, as well as smaller businesses, such as Point6, Sweetwood Cattle Company and stand-up paddleboard company Hala Gear. They’re joining nearly 1,500 other exhibitors on the show floor.

“Outdoor Retailer is an integral part of our business,” said Honey Stinger outdoor sales manager Nate Bird, adding that nearly 20 employees from Big Agnes and Honey Stinger make the migration every summer. “The face time and product exposure we get with buyers is invaluable. It’s a huge opportunity to have sit downs with key account buyers and showcase new products we’d like to get into stores. Every show, we end up with new dealers and expanded SKU sets in existing accounts.”

Smartwool also sends a large contingent to the show, taking advantage of the show’s proximity to Steamboat. With former SmartWool president Mark Satkiewicz’s triathlon background, it also takes a unique route to Salt Lake City. This year marks the 10th year SmartWool employees have ridden bicycles to the show, more than 300 miles away in Salt Lake City, with media and other guests.

“The Outdoor Retailer trade show is really significant for us,” said Dane Howell, vice-president of North America wholesale sales and marketing. “It’s where we connect with retailers and industry partners, highlight products for next year and sell-in. We value the time to strengthen relationships within the industry.”

Hala Gear, a maker of inflatable stand-up paddleboards — is also using Steamboat’s proximity to attend OR this year, including the on-water demo day, offering retailers a chance to sample its wares first hand.

“We got a lot of retailers onto our boards at the demo day,” said President Peter Hall, touting the company’s new price-point Rival line. “There’s no way we could have done that without attending.”

Chaos and CTR Headwear, which bases its customer service and shipping operations in Steamboat, is another company attending the show. “As both a local brand to Steamboat and a growing national brand, it is critical for us to attend the Outdoor Retailer show and connect directly with retailers from all corners of the U.S. and international outdoor shops,” said Gary Supple, U.S. director for both brands. “We learn about new trends and emerging hat brands and make new connections for the future. And, we love being located in the Rockies, where we get to test our products every day. If the product can perform for us here, it can perform for our customers anywhere.”

Buyers have as much to gain at the show as manufacturers, with several local retailers making the trek to better stock their shelves. “OR is very important to us,” said Ski Haus manager Murray Selleck. “It’s our chance to find what’s new out there. We already know what sells well; what we really go for is to find the unique, up-and-coming companies pushing the envelope of design and presenting new ideas.”


But it’s not all business; some people attend for accolades and others, for the social aspect. This year, local Luke Kimmes made the journey to receive the Expedition of the Year Award from Canoe & Kayak magazine for his team’s 2015 Rediscover North America Expedition, which saw them canoe 5,200 miles from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean. And local Barry Smith, who has attended the show ever since opening Mountain Sports Kayak School 35 years ago, uses it to suss out new kayak and SUP offerings to use on the Yampa River, but also to brush elbows with fellow boaters “I go to see all the new equipment, but also, to see all my old friends,” he said. “It’s a pretty unique gathering place for people in the industry.”

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