Outdoor Retailer & Outdoor Design + Innovation Have Successful Summer Events

Outdoor Retailer, the leading North American trade show and premier business event for the outdoor industry, kicked off summer with energetic days of discovery and connection at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City. The new Outdoor Design + Innovation sourcing show made its debut alongside Outdoor Retailer, and together the two events attracted exhibitors and attendees from across the U.S. and around the world. Outdoor Retailer rolled out several new features, including the all-new Hosted Buyer Program, capped booth sizes, and dedicated buyer hours, fostering quality connections. With both new and heritage brands exhibiting and more than 50 educational sessions and events, Outdoor Retailer provided a valuable three days for the outdoor industry to conduct business and build relationships.

“The Summer show launched a new era for Outdoor Retailer,” said Sean Smith, Outdoor Retailer show director. “The result was incredible energy on the show floor in Salt Lake and great momentum leading into our next events. This year, we made significant changes to our format based on industry-wide feedback with the goal of making a positive impact on outdoor business and positive progress for the industry. We brought in more, quality buyers; provided new ways for buyers and sellers to connect through matchmaking and buyer hours; created a dedicated sourcing show; and delivered extensive educational programming and unique networking experiences that enhance business. The big standout was the number of new exhibitors at the show – these are innovative brands with unique products that foster the discovery that buyers, and their customers, want. Now, we’re building off this collective energy and carrying this enthusiasm into our next shows. We look forward to bringing the outdoor industry together again in November.”

Discovering New Brands and Products

This summer, more than 80% of brands were first-time exhibitors, providing critical discovery for retail buyers seeking next generation and relevant products for the new outdoor consumer. These new brands launched products, and many entered the outdoor market for the first time. With booth sizes capped at 2,000 sq ft, dedicated buyer hours in the morning, and the floor plan organized by activity, the focus was on building relationships between buyers and sellers. New exhibitors included: Casström knives, sunglasses brand goodr, James Baroud roof top tents, LIVSN outdoor clothing, Sand Cloud sustainable towels and blankets, women’s outdoor apparel brand SENIQ, Slow Loris apparel, among others.

“We met retailers that are brand new, and they’re going to buy their first assortment and are looking for smaller, newer brands that everybody else doesn’t have. And that’s something that you don’t find at the other shows we attend – retailers are looking for new brands here,” said Andrew Gibbs-Dabney, founder of LIVSN, an exhibitor at Outdoor Retailer. “I love seeing people that I only see once or twice a year. When we’re in our little bubble back in Arkansas designing, we’re not out in the world. This is our chance to go out and test the things that we think are great, get feedback, meet people that we haven’t seen in a long time, and really just be a part of the industry.”

“This was the first time for us at OR with Sand Cloud,” said Brian Sanders, vice president of sales at Sand Cloud. “On the first day of the show, we opened three brand new accounts. So that was really exciting for us and set the pace for the day.”

“Since we come from the outdoor industry, we truly believe in selling the industry on our vision and product,” said Tina Thompson, co-founder of SENIQ. “OR was the best platform to do that, and the response was magnetic. Other brands in our lane aren’t attending the same trade shows, if any at all. We didn’t fit in with the mix, which absolutely made us stand out.”

More Buyers, More Connections

The all-new Hosted Buyer Program supported attendance for retail buyers from 49 states and multiple international stores. Overall, attending buyers represented more than 30,000 retail locations from specialty stores, regional chains, department stores, big box retailers, national gift chains, park shops, and more. The buyer to brand ratio was 3 to 1, with exhibitors meeting buyers from: Academy Sports + Outdoors, Aramark, Boyne Resorts, Costco, Dunham’s Sports, Garage Grown Gear, Good Sports Outdoor Outfitters, Fin & Feather, L.L. Bean, Macy’s, Poipu Surf, Sportsman & Ski Haus, Sunlight Sports, Terra Running, Title Nine, Urban Outfitters, West Marine, Xanterra, and more.

“The vendors at Outdoor Retailer are very intentional – they have great ideas and are looking for small retailers like us to carry their new products in our stores. The new vendors we met with were eager to work with us and were very flexible in working with terms and minimums,” said Jessica Tok, owner and buyer at Lake and Company in Stillwater, Minn. “The Hosted Buyer program is the sole reason why were at Outdoor Retailer. June is peak season for our business, and we were trying to decide on whether we come to the Winter or the Summer show. If it wasn’t for this program, I don’t know that we would have made it to Salt Lake City and we would have missed out on a lot of great products.”

“We had such a fantastic time, met a lot of great new vendors, saw lots of fun new products and innovation, and sat in on a fantastic talk about outdoor participation trends that was very thought provoking,” said Courtney Breitenbucher, Aramark senior retail manager & outdoor buyer, Yosemite Hospitality.

“We debuted Kangaroo Toss at this show,” said Corey Schrimpl, co-founder of Lost Boy Entertainment. “The biggest thing was the retail buyers here. Getting into contact with folks from Costco, Walmart, Meyer, and some big buyer accounts for us has been huge. We didn’t expect to have all those conversations and had all those on the first day.”

Innovation Across the Supply Chain

Sourcing for the outdoor market now has a dedicated event as Outdoor Design + Innovation (ODI) debuted alongside Outdoor Retailer, bringing together international suppliers of raw materials, and businesses delivering the latest technologies in manufacturing and across the supply chain. The show connects ingredient brands with product developers and sourcing buyers, and with the two co-located events, attendees can easily navigate the entire product lifecycle.

“Attending the ODI trade show was like diving into a pool of innovation, where each booth is a portal to the future of industry,” said Jon Goodman, VP of sourcing and sales for Karman Inc. (Stetson and Roper).

Learn and Connect

Between two shows, an extensive schedule of more than 50 educational and networking opportunities, plus dedicated media events, Outdoor Retailer and Outdoor Design + Innovation provided efficient and engaging ways to make the right business connections.

The matchmaking program available through the Outdoor Retailer mobile app facilitated those connections. Exhibiting brands were able to message attending buyers and media to book appointments.

“From Day 1, the quality of buyers we saw were solid,” said Dustin Smith, Sun Bum international market development and training manager. “The people coming to the booth were people I wanted to work with and have conversations with. We used the show app and the matchmaking feature. Within a few days of downloading the app, we booked three quality appointments right away.”

“We are a relatively new outdoor store, and being based in Hawaii we don’t really get to have a lot of face-to-face time with reps directly, so it’s important to be here at the show to see the products, touch them and talk to people in person,” said Destiny Detreaux, Buyer for Poipu Surf, Koloa, Hawaii. “We really enjoyed the Retail Reality Check education session, and it was great to hear directly from other stores on how they are navigating the current issues facing outdoor specialty retail and how they mitigate direct to consumer, online only, and brick and mortar. Their feedback and learning from the shared experiences were invaluable to our business.”

“I was pleasantly surprised by the caliber of the buyers – especially in the morning,” Bryan Wiertzema, director of sales for specialty and majors at Sun Bum, told The Daily. “Urban Outfitters stopped by, as did new accounts from Hawaii, Idaho, and other states. It’s made me excited for Winter, we will definitely come back.”

Read more about the summer show in The Daily by Outdoor Retailer recap here.

Booking for the Next Show

Outdoor Retailer and Outdoor Design + Innovation return to Salt Lake this November to open the new season. The Winter shows run November 6-8, 2024, in the Salt Palace, and will introduce an exciting new addition: the Outdoor Retailer x Collective Shows space. Outdoor Retailer and Collective Shows, the premier wholesale marketplace for activewear and swimwear, are collaborating to connect brands and buyers from both markets and expand product discovery.

Booth sales for the Summer 2025 shows are also ramping up with exhibitors planning for next year. The show is back at the Salt Palace from June 18-20, 2025.

Among the brands in for 2025: Westfield Outdoors, TETON Sports, Shade Headwear, M&W Design, Sun Bum, Sand Cloud, Bushwakka, and more.

Brands interested in connecting with buyers and media across events can contact a salesrepresentative today. Booth, sponsorship, and activation opportunities are available at both the Winter 2024 and Summer 2025 shows.

Booth sizes for both events are capped at 2,000 sq ft, creating more opportunities for exhibitors to enter the marketplace, enhance the buyer-seller experience, and foster innovation.

Registration and housing for Outdoor Retailer and Outdoor Design + Innovation Winter 2024 will open this summer.

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