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What Outdoor Retailer Was, Is, & Can Be

Adam Jaber January 31, 2022 58 5


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What Outdoor Retailer WAS:

Traditionally during the week of Outdoor Retailer (OR) you’d see all the new ski & snow product displayed in one of the most boujeè trade shows that’s around. It’s where all the big brands in snow come to flex.

This year, the biggest hard goods ski brand was Meier Skis, a small Colorado owned company based right here in Denver.

There wasn’t a single Ski Boot in the building this year. No Patagonia, No Salomon, No K2.

Don’t misunderstand me, I have NEVER had a better time at a show than we did this week.

What WORKED in the 2022 OR Show:

It was intimate & small brands got to have their shine. I’ve never spent the time to talk to smaller brands that I didn’t have a meeting with. Ever. In fact many of us attending would just pass them by, almost ignoring them unless it seemed like they had something to give out, or an eye catching product. I noticed that error of my own ways almost immediately.

They let smaller media brands, like us, WORK. Like paid us to work, gave us the time of day, and provided us every asset we needed to be successful. I hope that never changes.

This show was, if anything, a call for change in the way we interact with one another in work capacities. It also made me miss all of my friends at brands way more than I ever thought I would.

Above: Some of the truly stoked people of the show, Helmet Flair.

What I Think Should Change for 2023:

The show needs to get out of Denver, point blank. It’s too far from the mountains. I-70 is a mess. The city is not inviting in it’s nature. It’s this weird gray area where there isn’t skiing close enough to where business is done (think Salt Lake) and it’s not nearly fun enough on it’s own to spend the money to come out and not ski (think Las Vegas).

The show isn’t where business gets done anymore. The show is post most major ski brand’s deadlines. It either needs to be consumer & media facing around this time or later to build hype for the next season or it need’s to work together with other trade shows to make it about the business again.

I think this show is REALLY important for our industry…

People make this industry. People make this show. I really believe that Outdoor Retailer can be (and was for a long time) a place to connect with friends that you don’t see nearly often enough. Hopefully in 2022 we get past Covid as a barrier, and can get back to the best thing about skiing, community.

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