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Salt “Later” City, Utah – REVIEW: Outdoor Retailer Summer 2017

It’s that feeling that you get when you and your co-workers all know that you are going to be losing your jobs tomorrow, but you decide to go to the sports grill and throw darts, anyway.

Salt Lake City Outdoor Retailer Red Paddle Co

Ever stoked: Red Paddle Co is at OR, championing their Dragon board and getting ready for the Dragon’s World Championship races in Barbados.

Once the King of Trade Shows, OR falls off dramatically in 2017

Outdoor Retailer (OR) Summer 2017 was a bull’s eye shot to the paddlesports industry long before Demo Day even started. With a previous announcement of a June 2018 show date, the paddlesports category was figuratively kicked in the proverbial cojones; most of the industry is steeped in the thick of their busy season, from retailers to factories, in the middle of June. Clearly, for all of the camaraderie and “cool factor” that paddlesports has enjoyed over the years with whitewater bombardiers and nimble standup exploits, water warriors are no match for the whimsical bludgeons of fancy hiking clothiers.

“New iterations of familiar product helped to ameliorate the reality that this was the lowest participation anyone had seen at the show in many years, and perhaps…. EVER.”

One Wheel Outdoor Retailer

One Wheel makes an appearance at OR, but the crowds are sparse so it’s hard to make impact.

Outdoor Retailer:  Too Little & Too Late for Retailers

With what could be described as a dismal turnout of both manufacturers/brands and retailers, alike, the Summer 2017 Demo Day was full of gems for those interested and/or dedicated enough to show up.

Perhaps a couple of dozen exhibitors on the beach, and maybe twice that many along the bike path above came with their A-Game intact. Onewheel, Lifestraw, Surftech & NSP, the new amalgam of Bic Sport and SIC, Red Paddle Co., Oru Kayak, of course Hobie with their cadre of fun toys, Schiller Bikes (premium water bikes), and Costa – with an outboard motor-driven tiki bar island, serving up coffee and water to motivated paddlers – helped round out SLC’s final on-water party with style and grace. Beautiful and functional new iterations of familiar product helped to ameliorate the reality that this was the lowest participation anyone had seen at the show in many years, and perhaps…. EVER.

“A recent backpedal by show organizers from June to a July 2018 date may prove to be too little, too late. Almost all of the major players in the space have moved on.”

Hobie Outdoor Retailer

Hobie is ever-present, showcasing their changing line of paddle craft and equipment for riders of all ages.

Looking to NEW trade shows to build networks, bigger brands have moved on

Still, what makes the gathering great isn’t found in the metric of quantity, alone, nor is it encapsulated by the measure of product or brand quality, either. It’s the value of relationships that are forged. It’s the value of how those relationships are remembered by those that come to connect, engage, explore, and, ultimately, purchase product and later share a portion of that community with their customer base and spheres of influence.

A smaller show does not equate a lesser experience, necessarily. Ignoring the political bent of those pushing for more federal involvement and control over states’ lands (banners and displays abounding), this show has always been about the community of outdoor-loving individuals that are very, well, individual!

Jackson Kayak Outdoor Retailer

Photos often can give the energy of an event. Even in these pix, one gets the sense that things have shifted – maybe for good – at good ole OR.

See ya later, Salt Lake! It’s been real.

From a paddlesports perspective, Salt Lake’s final OR is a funeral. We love our segment, niche, category, whatever. The undercurrent of this trade show is a knowledge that OR as the premiere human-powered watersports business get-together is basically over. The damage has been done. A recent backpedal by show organizers from June to a July 2018 date may prove to be too little, too late. Almost all of the major players in the space have moved on. There are and will be other shows. As an industry, we don’t have time to experiment with epileptic calendaring, much less inconsiderate scheduling for standup paddling and other paddle-sports participation.

“We appreciate that SLC and OR for many years have been “the place” for us to convene and spread the stoke of the sport we so deeply love.”

Outdoor Retailer Salt Lake City Utah

Upcoming trade shows celebrating paddlesports include Wisconsin’s Paddlesports Retailer in the weeks ahead.

Looking to new groundswells & trade shows that capitalize on paddlesports’ energy

That being said, we do what we do best: relax, back-slap those of our pals from all over the country that managed to make the trip to Salt Lake’s farewell.  We connect with suppliers, buyers, and gear in the valley that Brigham Young once christened with the famous phrase,”This is the place.”  We appreciate that SLC and OR for many years have been “the place” for us to convene and spread the stoke of the sport we so deeply love. That stoke will never fade as long as we continue to invite, teach, and share the spirited peace of standup from a place of authenticity.

Submitted by:

Bill Ennis
www.DigPaddlesports.com
Located at Quail Creek State Park
Hurricane, UT 84737
435-467-9988
bill@digpaddlesports.com

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Salt “Later” City, Utah – REVIEW: Outdoor Retailer Summer 2017
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