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The Outdoor Retailer show was packed the first day in Salt Lake City, Utah. And there’s finally snow in the mountains making for a positive buying atmosphere.
Chip Smith who runs the PR for the show said it is their biggest recorded attendance day yet.
“We are expecting 21,000 people over the three days, and this is the biggest winter show we have had. I don’t have exact numbers yet, but it will definitely be a record year, as we are looking at a 7% increase from last year already,” he added.
Besides aisles of tents, running shoes, backpacks, camping gear, and even a sighting of “Man vs. Wild” star Bear Grylls, there was a big action sports presence at the show.
It was brands like Burton’s first OR as well as the debut of Quiksilver’s Mountain Division.
“Quiksilver usually just takes the Waterman’s line here, but we’ve been so pleased with the show, we’re increasing our presence with Waterman’s and now Quiksilver’s new Mountain Division,” said John Mills, SVP of Sales for Quiksilver.
Besides Quiksilver, there were a few dozen action sports brands that were fairly new to OR.
Hurley had a solid presence with a large buildout in the main lobby of the show, displaying its new “Phantom Protect” jacket, which attracted a lot of eyes.
Burton had a large booth near Hurley’s, mostly showing its backcountry and technical products.
I also saw O’Neill, Skullcandy, Stance, Spy, Von Zipper, Arbor, and many more traditional action sports brands with a bigger presence at this show.
“This is our first ‘real’ OR show,” said Von Zipper’s Greg Tomlinson, who was at the summer show, but in a large room with other Billabong brands.
“We were here back in August, but this (standalone booth) speaks to a customer base we are actively pursuing for our winter market, and gives us an opportunity to meet new accounts that we haven’t been speaking to in the past at our endemic shows. So far we have been really excited about the new prospects that have come through and even written a few orders contrary to other shows we have been to. People really come here to do business.”
Outside of brands, I saw a lot of buyers from shops like REI, the online outdoor retail outlet The Clymb, Backcountry.com and a variety of other outdoor specialty dealers.
“Having the action sports section here has been helpful for us because we don’t have to go to as many shows now,” said Kelley Hemminger, a buyer for Backcountry.com. “It also makes the outdoor brands aware of the other side of the industry so they can see the lifestyle side of it compared to just their outdoor world.”
We’ll have more stories throughout the week and more pictures tomorrow.