After 20 years of hosting the Outdoor Retailer’s massive trade show in Salt Lake City, the industry leaders and organizers of the show are pulling it out of Utah over the public land issues surrounding the Bears Ears National Monument.
Outdoor Retailer Leaves Salt Lake City
Citing unproductive meetings between Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and outdoor recreation business representatives, Outdoor Retailer (OR) show owner Emerald Expositions said they would be looking for a new location for the annual trade show as soon as possible.
“It is clear indeed that the Governor has a different perspective on the protection of public lands than that of our members”- Outdoor Industry Association
In a written statement released from the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) which has close ties to the massive, twice-yearly trade shows in Salt Lake City, it states, “It is clear indeed that the Governor has a different perspective on the protection of public lands than that of our members and the majority of the Western state voters, both Republicans and Democrats – that’s bad for our American Heritage and that’s bad for our businesses. We are therefore continuing our search for a new home as soon as possible.”
Industry Leaders take a stand on Bears Ears Controversy in Utah
This recent conflict between Utah’s sitting government and the Outdoor Retailer industry results from a disagreement in politics regarding the state’s Bear’s Ears National Monument.
Due to the”blatant disregard for the Bears Ears National Monument and other public lands, the backbone of our business, Patagonia will no longer attend the Outdoor Retailer show in Utah.” -Patagonia CEO, Rose Marcario
In December of 2017, former President Obama designated 1.35 million acres in the Four Corners region as the Bears Ears National Monument. This resolution, deemed as a hard blow to groups seeking further energy development within the state, was viewed as a major victory for Native American tribes, outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists alike.
Patagonia Says ‘No Way’
The move by OR from Salt Lake City comes less than two weeks after industry leader powerhouse Patagonia announced they would not be attending the Outdoor Retailer trade show in response to a resolution passed by the Utah governor advising President Trump to overturn the newly designated Bears Ears National Monument in the state. Patagonia’s pull-out of the main event was a head turner and a strong statement in response to Utah’s pending resolution.
“The outdoor industry creates three times the amount of jobs than the fossil fuels industry”– Patagonia Founder, Yvonne Choinard
Patagonia President and CEO, Rose Marcario, said, “Because of the hostile environment they have created and the blatant disregard for the Bears Ears National Monument and other public lands, the backbone of our business, Patagonia will no longer attend the Outdoor Retailer show in Utah. We are confident that other outdoor retailers and manufacturers will join us in moving to a state that values our industry and promotes public lands conservation.”
Outdoor Retailer Looking for New Home
According to a press release from the Outdoor Retailer’s owners, Emerald Expositions, the show will not be including Utah at all in it’s new request for proposals from hopeful cities eager to host the multi-million dollar trade shows. OR has decreed they are moving their events to another state. The biannual events will be a huge loss to the businesses of Salt Lake City as they generate as much as $45,000,000 annually and host as many as 40,000 visitors.
“We are in lockstep with the outdoor community” – OR Director, Marisa Nicholsen
Show director, Marisa Nicholsen, explains, “Salt Lake City has been hospitable to the Outdoor Retailer for the past 20 years, but we are in lockstep with the outdoor community and are working on finding our new home.”
Patagonia’s influence on the decision by Outdoor Retailer and that of several other companies who began to follow suit by refusing to sign up for the event this year due the to Bears Ears dispute in Utah is a major move risking income against values in a turbulent political climate.
Preservation vs. Development
Patagonia’s Founder and industry leader, Yvonne Choinard points to the $12 billion in consumer spending and 122,000 jobs that outdoor recreation creates for the state of Utah each year.
“The outdoor industry creates three times the amount of jobs than the fossil fuels industry,” argues Chouinard.
Domino Effect as Industry Brands Walk Out
Shortly after Patagonia announced their boycott, another industry giant Arc’teryx followed suit. Other companies including Polartek and Peak Designs began to join the fall out and demand a new location. The good news is Colorado has been courting the Outdoor Retailer exhibition since 2010 and is eager to host this multi-million dollar event.
“Four years ago, we didn’t have the facilities to host the Outdoor Retailer, but that has changed now,”
says the director or Colorado’s Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, Luis Benitez. In addition, it sure helps that Colorado’s Governor recently launched a 100 million dollar plan to develop trails throughout the state and has publicly expressed his belief that the country needs more public land conservation, not less.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert Under Fire
“A gross ingratitude” – Utah Gov. Gary Herbert
Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert’s office has issued a statement saying that the OR’s decision to pull out of Salt Lake City “smacks of gross ingratitude.”
It is not clear yet where the Outdoor Retailer shows will be for 2017 but several states vying for the benefits of hosting the events, including Colorado, Washington and New Mexico have already stepped forward to place their bid and persuade the show’s organizers to consider their territory as a new home for this exclusive outdoor retailer event.