It’s Tradeshow Time for Paddlesports!


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While we know we’d all rather be out paddling instead of inside some stuffy convention center, in the topsy turvy world of outdoor tradeshows, it’s that time of year again for paddlesports manufacturers to show their new wares to retailers and, this year, even consumers.

Three outdoor shows are taking place this month, and while paddlesports participation is waning in some categories, many are still attending. One manufacturer and retailer that decided not to this go-around in NRS, which launched its own new dealer tour this spring instead.

“The pandemic, inflation, retail staffing shortages, and a fragmented tradeshow landscape have limited brands’ ability to gather with our dealer networks in recent years,” says NRS’s Mark Deming. “We’re working with other leaders in the paddlesports industry to find a long-term solution for bringing retailers and vendors together. In the meantime, we’re being creative. A large assortment of new and revised products presented logistical challenges in presenting our 2024 line to hundreds of retailers throughout the country. We responded by arranging the NRS Retailer Reunion tour, in which we invited our dealers to experience the latest NRS products in a convenient location while talking shop and swapping stories in a casual, comfortable setting. We drove a truck across the country, hosting private events in five centrally located cities.”

Dealer response to the tour has been very positive, he adds, and they’ll take that into account when planning for next year. As for this year’s plans to attend other shows, some are in and some are out.

“NRS will attend specialty retail shows this summer—including Grassroots Connect and WWSRA—as well as the major fishing tradeshows, ICAST and AFFTA,” Deming says. “We’ll also attend the Paddle Sports Show in Strasburg, France in September. But after conducting cost-benefit analysis, we have decided not to exhibit at OR or the Big Gear Show.”

Following is a roundup of where the big three June shows will be and when:

Outdoor Retailer

For the next five years, 2023-2027, Outdoor Retailer events will take place in Salt Lake City at the Salt Palace, with neighboring mountains and outdoor spaces will become destinations for experiential and consumer programming. For the first time, the show is adding a consumer component to its show the weekend before the industry event.

“We’re evolving the Outdoor Retailer format and creating new, unique ways for brands to engage around their business needs and goals,” says Marisa Nicholson, Outdoor Retailer senior vice president and show director. “These changes are based on feedback we’ve received from brands, retailers, reps and suppliers, all working on earlier product deadlines. So, we’re transforming to make sure we’re providing the most relevant platform to showcase product and do business. Outdoor Retailer Winter and Summer are now both at the beginning of the respective sales seasons and in position to support the greater buy/sell ecosystem.”

tradeshowOutdoor Retailer Summer will take place in June 19-21 at the Salt Palace and will kick off the spring/summer sales cycle. Also dedicated to commerce, the summer event will serve the needs of brands and retailers when products are introduced, plus the annual Outdoor Retailer Inspiration Awards will celebrate people and organizations making an impact in the industry. The new Outdoor Adventure X adventure festival will stage at Snowbasin Resort and Pineview Reservoir in Utah over the weekend in advance of Outdoor Retailer Summer, giving brands and retailers opportunities to connect directly with consumers and get a first-hand look at ways people of all ages are experiencing the outdoors. Additionally, Outdoor Retailer Summer will unite the industry around advocacy programs through initiatives launched by the Business With Purpose working group, including a familiarization tour and stewardship projects. Info:

The Big Gear Show

In a game of trading places, after three years in Park City, Utah, The Big Gear Show , will hold its next show June 8-11, 2023, in Denver, Colorado, at the Colorado Convention Center, former home of the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow. Co-locating with its sister e-bike show: (e)revolution, the show will represent a new era of industry events called B2B2C, or “business to business to consumer,” and will consist of two industry days and two consumer days.

The move from Park City comes on the heels of Emerald Expo’s decision to move its Outdoor Retailer and SnowSports tradeshow back to Salt Lake City from Denver, starting last January.

Building on its unique multi-category format, says show director Kenji Haroutunian, the show is expanding to a more inclusive platform welcoming consumers into the mix. In addition to showcasing outdoor, cycling, climbing, paddlesports and camping gear, The Big Gear Show will add categories like overland, trail running, and gear that you wear, like functional and technical footwear and apparel.

“Our ethos has always been to embrace both retailers and consumers and we feel like now is the time to bring our industry to where the people are,” says Haroutunian. “When we first announced The Big Gear Show in 2020, we envisioned it taking place inside an accessible center city location, designed to incorporate product demonstrations as well as consumer engagement. Now our original vision is realized.”

The show’s move to Denver provides exhibitors with access to over three million people and one of the most active outdoor populations in the country. By co-locating with (e)revolution, The Big Gear Show will also attract new and more diverse participants to learn about the innovative gear promoting active outdoor recreation. Moreover, 80 percent of Colorado’s population lives within 100 miles of downtown Denver, creating a hive of activity all focused on healthy and responsible recreation outdoors. “We recognize early June is a busy time for the industry,” said Haroutunian. “But we feel there is no better time than June to gather the industry and kick off the outdoor industry’s summer recreation season.”

The Big Gear Show plans to provide opportunities for retail buyers in finding new resources with the added benefit of the show occurring at the start of the peak summer buying season. The show remains committed to being retailer-centric with first-look opportunities at next year’s gear, continuation of the retailer travel subsidy program, and retailer-focused education programming. Zones dedicated to product demonstration and testing are integrated, letting attendees get hands-on experience with new products. And the last two days of the show will be open to consumers. Info:

Read more here:

Grassroots Connects

Grassroots Connect, the twice-annual buying show of Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, returns June 12-15 to the Knoxville Convention Center, bringing together more than 400 retail buyers from 206 retail doors nationwide with the outdoor world’s best known and best loved brands for nearly 10,000 pre-scheduled appointments. With 215 total brands in attendance –  including 77 in the Discovery Marketplace – it will be the largest collection of vendors ever gathered by the group, whose 100 member retailers recently reported sales increases of more than 4% in the last 12 months.

“Grassroots Connect originally honed in on early dates as a planning convenience for vendors and retailers, but the June timing of the event has become even more valuable in the last few years as order deadlines have moved up and windows have shrunk for available showing time,” says Gabe Maier, president. “Both retailers and brands are acutely aware that there’s only so many events that people can go to and only so much time that they can be away from their core business. That shared recognition among all attendees is a key reason that Grassroots Connect is such an effective event.”

Attendees will enjoy four days of pre-scheduled show meetings, lunchtime learning sessions, and evening special events, including the Grassroots Discovery Marketplace June 11, a curated brand gathering to introduce prospective new vendors to the Grassroots community of member retailers, guest retailers and sales representatives; and Open House Happy Hour will run from 5-7 pm on the main show floor; and the Keen Klean Up June 14, partnering with Keep Knoxville Beautiful, Legacy Parks Foundation and River Sports. Info:


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