Jun 10, 2022 - News

Outdoor Retailer show prepares to decamp Denver for Salt Lake City

Denver's on the outside for the OR show starting in 2023. Photo: John Frank/Axios

Denver's on the outside for the OR show starting in 2023. Photo: John Frank/Axios

The world's top outdoor brands anchored their tent stakes in Denver for the last time this week, as the industry holds its final trade show there before decamping for Salt Lake City.

Why it matters: The twice-yearly gathering boasts a $45 million local annual impact and the show's arrival in Denver coincides with a broader economic development effort to establish the state as an outdoor recreation hub for companies.

Driving the news: The owner of Outdoor Retailer announced in March that the show would return to its former home in Utah in January 2023, after a five-year run at the Colorado Convention Center.

  • The move to downtown Denver came after the industry objected to Utah leaders' support for reducing the size of public lands and national monuments.
  • The political landscape remains unchanged, but show owner Emerald X said the move back would allow it to be more engaged in the discussion.

What's new: One outstanding question is whether the outdoor brands that attend the Denver event will follow the show back to Salt Lake City.

  • In interviews with more than a dozen companies, most suggest they plan to continue attending, especially smaller brands that rely on the show's exposure.
  • Others said they are still debating within their companies what message that would send.

What they're saying: San-Francisco-based Peak Designs, which pushed for the exit in 2017, is "pretty conflicted … because to be honest nothing has changed," Supriya Limaye, a wholesale account manager, told Axios Denver.

  • "We stand by our decision when we said we wouldn't go back," she said, adding that no formal decision has been made about attending next year.

Yes, but: Barry Robertson, tech resources manager at Sea to Summit, whose North American operations are based in Boulder, expects his company to make the trip.

  • "We see the function of trade shows as a place to meet," he told us. "We will go where the industry goes."

Kaysville, Utah-based Klymit is excited for the show's return. "Salt Lake City does really feel like an outdoor capital, so we're excited to have it back," said Sierra Krebsbach, the company's spokesperson

  • "It brings a lot of positives to the community," added Andrew Leon at Nomadic, a Salt Lake City backpack maker.

What to watch: OR's snub caught Colorado leaders by surprise, but the state's outdoor officials told Axios Denver they are devising a new event to showcase the industry with a broader reach.

The intrigue: OR's owner is doing the same.

  • In June 2023, Emerald X will debut a three-day event at Snowbasin Resort aimed at consumers — not just industry representatives — to give them hands-on experiences with new products.

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