SGB reached out to a number of attendees of the inaugural Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show and heard largely positive feedback. Comments from Klean Kanteen, Vasque, Bogs, Pro-Tec, Massey Outfitters, OrthoLite, Croakies, Implus, Sweet Protection, Maine Outdoor Brands, Walls Outdoor Goods, Dare 2b, Craghopppers, Free Country, Kamik, MSR and Honey Stinger.

 More comments can be found in the article, Hello Denver (Take 1), that came out on Wednesday.

Doug Sanders, VP, MSR (Mountain Safety Research): Traffic was very good to kick off the show.  Because there are not as many areas that funnel people as there were in Salt Lake the aisles did not seem as busy, but our booth had good constant traffic. 

“The vibe was classic winter show.  Regions that have had snow and a good early season sales are upbeat, but worried that next winter won’t repeat.  Regions without snow are hopefully that next year will be better.  Everyone frets about inventory.  Either they have too much, or too little, or just the right amount but are afraid of what the rest of the winter will bring that will leave them with either too much or too little.

As a veteran of many SIA shows it was interesting to see the merge.  I was expecting the show to come across as much more of a Ski / snowboard event, but it still felt like OR with a broad mix of product offerings that felt winter outdoors instead of resort based recreation.

“As a full spectrum, four season supplier many of our conversations spanned outside of just winter and into the ability of retailers to keep our products on the shelves year round to reduce their risk and eliminate seasonal closeouts.”

Joe Peters, Head of Marketing, Vasque: “While we were somewhat cautious with our expectations on how the first OR/Snow Show in Denver would transpire for Vasque Footwear, we were extremely impressed on all fronts.  Traffic was steady, and we felt that with the addition of our friends on the Snow side of the business that we had the opportunity to re-introduce Vasque to many that hadn’t seen Vasque for a while. Specifically, our insulated category, along with our more classic silhouettes, seemed to really grab the attention of those newly-exposed to Vasque, which is fantastic.  We felt the vibe of the show was a nice blend between the traditional OR Bluegrass Happy Hour music and some of the Snow Electronic/Chill music… which yes, I consider as a valid source of vibe.  Overall, we were pleasantly surprised on all fronts and are optimistic on what the future holds for our bi-annual gathering and our industry.”

David Cook, VP of Marketing, Bogs Footwear: “Overall, it was great to be in Denver. The show had a renewed energy and the vibe was very positive. Our booth traffic was excellent. The layout and attendance gave us the perfect platform to introduce our FW18 line.”

R.P. Bess, Global Brand Director, Pro-Tec: “It was refreshing to be at a show that was heavily attended. and the highlight was seeing the optimism around innovative products and retail in general. Our booth was busy throughout the show and there was a lot of excitement around Pro-Tec’s re-launch into the snow category. As the original action sports protection company celebrating a 45-year history, we felt it was important to offer snow helmets and seeing the response from retailers at the show validated our plan. Now is the right time.

“The retailer feedback on the entire line was great. In addition to the snow collection, we saw a lot of interest in our new Volcom X Pro-Tec collaboration, the iconic Full-Cut and Classic helmet lines and our higher end helmets as well.  The show got us excited about what retail will bring for 2018 and even 2019.”

Mike Massey, President, Massey Outfitters: “The show had a level of excitement and enthusiasm that I haven’t seen for years in SLC. But, I attribute much of that excitement to snowsports.

“I think overall, the new format will be great. Despite being in the south, most of our winter is dominated by snowsports. Seeing what is happening in one place is way better.

“My perspective on the ‘outdoor’ business is that there are varying degrees of healthiness. Some brands are doing fairly well, while other, similar brands are careening off the cliff. Same with categories. The theme that governs how one brand is doing vs. another runs through how much a brand is either embracing or tamping down channel conflict. The more a brand ignores aggressive online discounting, or the more they forget that once they burn off the goodwill and brand affinity that local shops have helped create for decades, it is gone, the more they seem to be struggling. Retailers are no longer looking for products. They are looking for partners.”

Stephen Cook, President of Kamik: “The combination of Snow Show and Outdoor Retailer in Denver had a refreshed, positive vibe and energy. The city of Denver felt like a natural fit for an outdoor trade show and the city was extremely welcoming and accommodating to the influx of guests. We are very optimistic about the show’s future and are excited to be a part of the innovation to come in the outdoor industry.” 

Skip Lei, VP of Innovation, OrthoLite: “Like so many attendees, I was wondering how the OR Show would feel being hosted in Denver for the first time. When shows move, there tend be some quakes, followed by some ripples, for all involved.

“Personally, I was hoping for “show parity,” as Salt Lake City had become an industry cornerstone. I was beyond delighted from the second I showed up until the time that I left. The convention center had everything dialed in… including the weather! There was no shortage of positive energy, and industry camaraderie. As an OrthoLite brand, we were delighted to see so many of our brands, supporting the transition to Denver. It was great to see the booths swirling with buzz and the passion of their newest launched item. Some say the outdoor industry is flat, but you would never know it… or believe it, if you were in attendance.”

Ian McWilliams, Communications Manager, Klean Kanteen: “With a non-stop flow of traffic and very busy booth, this show was one of our best yet. As expected, there was plenty of talk and curiosity about whether Denver would be able to pull off a seamless transition from Salt Lake. Overall, the attendance seemed up and there was excitement about being in a new venue. On a product level, Klean continues to stand apart from competitors with its commitment and concern surrounding sustainability. We’re excited to launch our new durable and eco-friendly Klean Coat powder coating and raise the bar for what’s possible on an environmental level.”

Eric Lund, Outdoor Brands Marketing Manager, Implus LLC: “For Yaktrax and DryGuy, day one of the show was excellent. Our booth was consistently busy and the excitement level was high. Day two was strong and, as we anticipated, traffic started to taper on day three and four. Overall, we were pleased with the show and think that the new location in Denver is a far better venue. It’s easier to get to for our east coast partners and downtown has more to offer in the way of lodging, restaurants and entertainment. Combining the ORWM and SIA shows makes things a lot easier for us and we think that this arrangement will ultimately bring more people to the show.”

Ira Schwartz, CEO & Founder, and Jody Schwartz, President, Free Country: “Having just refreshed our brand identity this season with a website relaunch and a new national marketing campaign, and it being the first Denver show, there was a lot of great energy at our booth and a lot of excitement for the future.

“Buyers were looking for newness with a focus on quality and value. The outdoors are truly ‘in’ as more mainstream store buyers were shopping the show than we’ve seen in the past. It was also our first time showing dog jackets, which were a huge hit, as there seemed to be almost as many dogs at the show as there were people.”

Chris McCullough, Director, Consumer Brands, Hilco Vision Outdoor (Croakies, Leader Swim, and Jonathan Paul Fitovers Eyewear):  “The inaugural Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show in Denver was an exciting step forward for the January trade show cycle. The overlap with the SURF Expo presented a logistical challenge which can hopefully be avoided in the years to follow; however, we were very pleased with the turnout in Denver: the energy was high and overall vibe positive. Having exhibited at SIA in the past, it was fun to be back alongside the Snow Sports Industry, while still being able to serve our core outdoor industry customers and partners. The cross pollination of multi-industry buyers, reps and media was a big plus and something we will look forward to capitalizing on throughout the year. Having spent the past week alongside our industry cohorts, we remain confident in the industry-wide attention placed on both accessibility to the outdoors as well as the purchasing and recreation behavior of the ever-important, everyday, outdoor consumer. Croakies continues to be well-situated to service the needs of this broader user base, through reliable, solution-driven products positioned for life’s everyday adventures. All in all, we’re extremely optimistic about the year ahead.”

Johnnie Kern, Sales & Marketing Manager, Sweet Protection: “The Show was excellent for Sweet Protection and we feel the overall vibe was upbeat. We unveiled our new booth, new logo and new product to an audience that was eager to learn more about Sweet and the advanced technology behind our helmets. As a Norwegian brand, this is especially good news for us as our snow sport helmet offering is still pretty new in the US market and we consider this a sign that we could see some significant growth in 2018. I also feel by combining the SIA and OR shows, we were able to reach a broader audience without the cost and effort of exhibiting at two different US shows. What we found most surprising is the level of attendance and excitement among retailers despite the less-than-stellar winter most of the US is having. Our Switcher helmet won an ISPO Gold award and the timing of the show, just ahead of ISPO, gave us a nice communications boost.”

Christian Johnson, VP of Sales, Honey Stinger: “As a nutrition brand at the low point of our seasonality, we usually expect Winter OR to be a networking / benchmarking opportunity with key partners. With the switch to Denver, we weren’t sure what to expect–hard to break the SLC habit. Then again, as a Colorado brand Denver is just that much more in our wheelhouse. How’d it go? Our location had excellent quality traffic and great energy. We did the usual networking, but also found a number of new angles on distribution through OIA seminars, NPD’s breakfast and tackling buyers/getting them to sing our song with us. It was fun and we’re optimistic that Denver will be a great home. Looking forward to Summer OR already.”

Jim Hauptman, Founder & President, Maine Outdoor Brands: “Maine Outdoor Brands is a non-profit alliance of Maine-based, outdoor product companies. Nearly 20 of our members were represented in our booth in Denver–sthe majority of which had never exhibited at OR before. Overwhelmingly, the consensus amongst our members was that that the show was a phenomenal success. The mood was decidedly upbeat and buyers were genuinely interested in learning more about our alliance and products offered by our brand members. All report having a significant amount of follow-up. Our members also appreciated the ease of flying in/out of Denver and the ample amount of hotel rooms within an easy walk of the convention center. As we all know, it’s the little things like that that can make a big difference. We look forward to returning to Denver for Summer Market!”

Scott Bennett, Marketing Director: Walls Outdoor Goods: “Loved the Denver location and increased traffic during the show from national brands all the way down to mom and pop specialty retailers. Denver doesn’t disappoint. We are already looking forward to the summer show.”

Bill Lockwood, North America CEO at Dare 2b and Craghopppers: “Overall the show had a great vibe and there was lots of traffic. Not surprising when you put two shows together that had both unique and cross over audiences that the sum would be better than the two parts.

“Denver is not a new venue for Dare2b as we are a veteran of the SIA show. It is great town for the shows; now it will just take time to sort out the details.

“As a vendor with brands that live in both worlds (Dare2b,Ski and Craghoppers, Outdoor) it will be interesting to see the decisions brands are making about November or January. I believe that we will see a natural split between hard goods and soft goods, with soft goods going in November and hard goods and accessories in January. [It will] also [be interesting to see] the implications of the GOA show on the November ORWM. As much as there are GOA vendors that might look to January as the more conducive time frame for a national show (footwear and accessories), they might be compelled to show in November, as they will already be in Denver for GOA.  On the January show it will be interesting to see if the relationship with WSM (SSL and SMC) continues.  If that relationship doesn’t continue, then [there could be] fall-out for eastern ski retailers coming to ORWM + Snow show.”

Photo courtesy Outdoor Retailer