The PL team touched down in Madison, Wisconsin, just before Labor Day for the first annual Paddlesports Retailer show, to get the lowdown on all the new product and support a show that was reminiscent of the old days of Outdoor Retailer, where the paddle tank was the main attraction on the show floor and Dagger, Perception and Wave Sport were still independent brands battling it out for market share.
“PSR was a great launching pad for all of our new products—especially our new family-friendly Ocean Kayak Malibu Pedal, our all-new Old Town Castine day-touring series and our new Old Town paddles and PFDs,” said Johnson Outdoors brand manager Ryan Lilly. “Overall, it was a good show and we saw great response.”
“This was a great show amidst a unique, intimate industry. It was awesome exposure for us and everyone was impressed with the venue and the show’s organization,” added Art in Surf Texas sales rep and professional longboard/kiteboard surfer Aarin Hartwell. “We had great traffic the whole show including the demo day, and the perfect weather and inviting water didn’t hurt either.”
On Day 2 of the fledgling event, the new official tradeshow “for paddlers, by paddlers,” organizers announced the show will move to Oklahoma City in 2018. The new location may have seemed like an odd choice to many but was chosen for its commitment to creating a world-class urban paddlesports venue on the Oklahoma River. While the surrounding lakes and mellow demo pond in Madison suited the SUP and flatwater crowd, apparently the need for speed is still alive and well in an industry that was once dominated by whitewater, yet still manages to unite around its common on-water bond.
“There are two primary reasons that we’re moving to Oklahoma City,” said show manager Marcus Shoffner. “First, we are simply out of space in Madison. We were overwhelmed by the response from both retailers and vendors at our inaugural show. Oklahoma City gives us room to expand with a new 300,000 square foot convention center slated to open in 2020. But most importantly, Oklahoma City offers the country’s premier paddlesports venue — which will be the centerpiece of our event.”
Over the last ten years, Oklahoma City has invested more than $100 million in the Oklahoma City Boathouse District, the official U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) Training Site for paddlesports. It includes a world-championship caliber sprint kayak and rowing course, a $45 million Olympic whitewater river and slalom course, and a high-performance training center for elite paddlesports athletes from around the world.
Said Sue Hollenbeck, Director of Sports Business at the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau: “Our community lives and breathes paddlesports and I think attendees will be blown away by what we have to offer.”
Paddlesports Retailer will take place Tuesday, Aug. 28 – Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018 at Oklahoma City’s Cox Convention Center; with the on-water demo on Monday, Aug. 27 at the Boathouse District. The demo will begin at 3:00 pm and run until 10:00 pm underneath the facility’s stadium lights. Show participants can canoe, kayak, raft and paddleboard down Class II-IV rapids, while testing all the latest flatwater boats on the USOC sprint kayak course. The Boathouse is walking distance to the trendy Bricktown District, downtown, and the convention center and adjacent hotels.
“This is an exciting next step for Paddlesports Retailer,” said Bill Kueper, Vice President of Wenonah Canoe and Chairman of the Paddlesports Trade Coalition, one of the major advocates of the new show breaking away from OR. “In its first year, the show brought together more than 150 exhibiting paddlesports brands and almost 300 unique retailers. Oklahoma City offers an unprecedented venue for a gathering of this magnitude that will only continue to grow in years to come. The City is truly a paddler’s dream that will elevate the entire show experience for the industry.” In addition to its strong commitment as a paddlesports destination, Oklahoma City was touted for its central location easily reached from every part of the U.S.
“We would like to thank Madison for being a gracious host to us this year,” continued Shoffner. “Madison will always be an iconic paddlesports destination that we will all be visiting again soon.”