It’s Outdoor Retailer and the week’s show is about much more than just new products. As the industry packs its bags — and perhaps a pair of skis — for Winter Market 2016 in Salt Lake City with its new, earlier dates, we take a look at few top trends and events not to miss at the show.
First Things First, How’s that Snow Forecast Looking?
There is some potential snow in the forecast for Wednesday All Mountain Demo at Solitude (January 6, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.), but don’t expect an epic powder day. The good news is that the regional mountains report snow pack bases of 50-to-60 inches after storms hit the area in late December.
Winter Weather will as Usual be the Hot Topic Among Brands, Reps and Retailer Attendees
This year’s strong El Nino has delivered some welcomed wetter and cooler conditions along the West Coast and southern mid-section of of country, but also extreme unseasonably warm temperatures to much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. The latter — which had plenty of people with 60s and 70s over the Christmas holiday — will continue to put pressure on outerwear and cold-weather gear sales for the season, while giving a boost to warmer-weather activities such as running.
Other Macro Economic Trends Affecting Business
The strong dollar, an inch-up in interest rates and improving job figures will filter their way into conversations this week. And specific to the outdoor industry, will be talk of the evolving outdoor consumer, including the continued rise of urban-inspired fashion and fitness, along with the growing wearable market, eg. FitBit.
New this Year at the Show, and Not to Miss for Retailers, will be a Collaborative “Retail-Inspired” Education Event Called RISE
Put on by Outdoor Retailer, Outdoor Industry Association and Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, on Day 0, Wednesday January 6, from noon to 6:30 p.m. at the Leonardo Museum, 209 500 South, in Salt Lake City. The event includes sessions on the omni-channel market, the top HR challenges and defining the outdoor consumer, followed by networking with brand executives.
Further Education Sessions from OIA’s Outdoor University
Focused on everything from recycled fibers and crowdfunding to employee retention and leveraging live video will take place during trade-show hours Thursday through Saturday. Check out the schedule, times and locations here.
Finally, Between the Hours of Interviewing, Orders and Meetings…
Get ready to fill your mugs with beer or coffee (maybe both) and hunt down the best giveaways, booth celebrities and happy hours. Here are a few fun events to make your play as great as your work:
- It’s Day One and you want to kick off OR in style. Sierra Designs’ booth will have a down-home, simple but classic, happy hour. Photo booth, beer, friends and one of the biggest gear giveaways of the show. Chances to win gear from Kelty, Scarpa, ENO, Farm to Feet, Leatherman, UCO, Ruff Wear, Hydro Flask, Headsweats, Yaktrax, Probar, Solo Eyewear, and more.
- Instead of one big bash, Granite Gear opted for two days of events. There’s a Support the PCTA Q&A with endurance hikers Trauma and Pepper (come find out how they got those names), then a Bike Touring and Bikepacking Book Signing on Friday, followed by Storytime … with beer instead of warm milk. All events support people and organizations that are bettering the outdoor community and experience. Not to mention, GG always gives the coolest trail mugs.
- If you’re headed up to Demo Days, Vasque will have a hand hewn log bike trainer with a Surly fat bike for you to test your skills and see how far you can pedal in a minute. You’ll be entered to win the bike and some sweet new Vasque mukluk-style insulated boots before they hit retail. But Vasque really hits a sweet spot with its morning Sturdiwheat Pancakes – a favorite amongst OR vets.
- Polar Explorer, speaker and educator, John Huston, who achieved the first unsupported American Expedition to the North Pole, will be at the Bergans’ booth for arctic chats. Beer and … drum roll, sled dogs, will round out the very cool viobe. We’ll be stopping in for a selfie with the dogs.
- The two words to know at Buff Headwear’s booth: Espresso machine.
- Who doesn’t love free, high-quality socks. Go to Farm to Feet’s booth and take a picture with their life-size packaging for a comped pair. All Farm to Feet packaging features photos of individual workers who had a hand in the company’s Made in the U.S.A. production.
- Happy Hour, say no more. National Geographic celebrity, OK we’re sold. On Thursday from 4:30-6:30 p.m, the Adventure Travel Trade Association and ExOfficio host a happy hour with Andrew Evans, National Geographic’s Digital Nomad. Have a drink, see ExOfficio’s new urban travel line and learn how the ATTA facilitates networking among outdoor and adventure-focused gear and apparel brands, retailers, media, travel providers, destination representatives and more.
- If you’re one of the diehards still around come Sunday, you deserve a $500 Amazon Gift Card. WindWarrior will be giving one away at 3 p.m. All you have to do is stop by and enter the drawing. Then you can finally sleep.