After a run of five years in Denver, Colo., Outdoor Retailer is saying hasta luego to Colorado for its two annual tradeshows and heading back to Salt Lake City, Utah. Show organizers announced that the tradeshow will relocate to Salt Lake City—its former home—in January 2023 when its current five-year contract with the City of Denver expires. The show will stay there at least through 2025.
“We’ve been in talks with our customers since June 2021,” says show director Marissa Nicholson. “Those conversations ultimately determined the appropriate dates and location for the show’s future.”
Since 1982, Outdoor Retailer has brought the outdoor industry together for commerce and to share ideas. According to its release, “Our community has become family, and for the past five years we’ve held our biannual gatherings in Denver. As our contract nears its natural end after 2022, we’ve been exploring our options and conferring with the industry to map our next steps. After much deliberation and input from all sides, we’ve decided the best move for Outdoor Retailer is to return to our basecamp…to the place we grew up and where our industry matured into the dynamic and powerful community it is today. Moving forward, Outdoor Retailer will bring the community together in January and June at the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center. We have a strong relationship with Salt Lake City and a committed partner in Mayor Erin Mendenhall, whose values align with ours following tremendous investments in clean energy and a strong commitment to public lands. This proved to be a real turning point in our recent negotiations.”
Earlier this spring, however, the Conservation Alliance, along with 25 of the industry’s largest brands—including Patagonia, REI, and The North Face—said they planned to boycott OR if it returns to Utah because of its stance on not protecting national monuments and public lands. On the paddlesports side, those brands include pack raft manufacturer Alpacka, form Mancos, Colo. The statement reads: “So long as Utah’s elected delegation continues its assault on public lands and the laws designed to protect them, Emerald faces a choice: move the show to Utah and ensure that many of the key players in the outdoor industry will not return to Utah with the trade show, or work with the industry leaders to shape a future trade show that balances the interests and values of industry members and partners.”
A Commitment to Change
For its part, Outdoor Retailer maintains it plans to address those issues. “Salt Lake City is our hometown, and we’re going back with a commitment to effecting meaningful change,” the release states. “It would be wrong for us to leave the way we did and simply go back as if nothing happened. In reality, leaving after 2017 has not brought the change we had hoped for, so we will push back, not pull back. We firmly believe that staying engaged and collectively contributing to the ongoing discussion, no matter how difficult, is far more constructive.
We are the first to admit significant work is required to achieve change, so we are dedicating resources to making progress. To start, we are:
- Committing revenue over the next three years from Outdoor Retailer events in Utah to fund programs to support outdoor recreation and protect public lands;
- Forming the Business with Purpose initiative in partnership with Visit Salt Lake to bring city, county, state and federal officials, public lands and outdoor recreation leaders, and industry stakeholders together for biannual meetings focused on addressing challenges, influencing policy, assisting advocacy efforts, and directing resources into protecting natural and cultural spaces and improving access;
- Providing increased opportunities for the industry, local communities, and media to participate in panel discussions, educational activities, and volunteer projects.
It says it is also “redefining Outdoor Retailer to meet the needs of the growing outdoor recreation economy, adding channels for the industry to interact directly with consumers and conduct commerce with buyers year-round. We’re moving beyond the walls of a convention center to present unique opportunities for commerce, storytelling, advocacy, knowledge and celebration. We are excited to unveil our plans at this summer’s show.”
And it claims there are no hard feelings with Denver. “We’re incredibly grateful to Denver for nourishing these passions and embracing our amazing community,” Nicholson said. “We’ll gather in Colorado once more this June to reconnect in person, enhance relationships, and celebrate our milestone anniversary. As we plan for the coming years back in Salt Lake City and County, we move forward with the same optimism and values that have always guided our industry, and we’re ready to work with you to explore endless opportunities to help our industry grow. We are excited about what the future holds for Outdoor Retailer