Preliminary show numbers at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show indicate the softening of the market did effect show numbers both in the number of attendees (approx. 16,500 attendees) and sold floor space (330,000 net-sold, square-feet). The overall attendance numbers were “down slightly,” a decrease of approximately 5% from last year's Winter Market turnout.

The show's organizers noted that the event did manage to add more than 110 new exhibitors and new areas/events to better meet its attendee and exhibitors business needs.

“Historically, the outdoor industry has done well in economic downturns, and this trend appears to be holding true today as our overall numbers are down only slightly from last year's Winter Market,” said Kenji Haroutunian, Outdoor Retailer show director. “Although some manufacturers and retailers sent fewer people to this year's show, the right exhibitors and buyers were in attendance, and orders were definitely being written on the show floor. I met several new retail attendees who were really surprised at the depth and quality of exhibitors at OR.”

The statement from the organizers noted that many attending retailers agreed the show continued to be “the place to be” to do business for the coming year.

“Retailers need to be here,” said Norman Cavallaro, president of Saybrook, Connecticut's North Cove Outfitters and winner of the 2009 SNEWS Backbacker 'Retailer of the Year Award.' “I come here to talk with people about what's new both from a business standpoint and product standpoint. Besides doing business with current suppliers, I also come here to do business with new suppliers. I require that each of my staff find at least one new product from a new company, and they did and more.”

In addition to fairly healthy show numbers, the organizers said Outdoor Retailer provided its exhibitors and attendees with valuable new and revamped events/venues for meeting their business and networking objectives during the show.

Some of the special events included:


Backcountry Base Camp

Outdoor Retailer retailers gathered at Snowbasin Ski Resort to view hands-on exhibitor displays and test backcountry products including Nordic skis, snowshoes and accessories. Highlights from this year's BBC included a new, more realistic testing track for Nordic skiing and an avalanche safety product demo where Haroutunian was embedded in a six foot pile of snow for an hour.

Backcountry Village

A centralized community space located on the show floor, the Backcountry Village provided a neutral forum and meeting space for the most relevant product, people and technologies in the winter hardgoods marketplace. Feature presentations in the village included the Winter Wildlands Alliance Film Festival, Save Our Snow with World Champion Freeskier Alison Gannett, and special celebrations for advocacy alliance, 1% for the Planet.

“I saw a number of manufacturers and attendees pull up a chair and take advantage of our nearly daily happy hours,” said Kate Mitchell, program aficionado for 1% for the Planet. “Non profit organizations, like us, also benefited from the close proximity to existing and potential members and supporters.”

OR “Winter Exposure” Industry Party & Fashion Show
Presented by Woolrich, the Winter Market Fashion Show “Winter Exposure,” revealed dozens of the latest designs in the wintersports technical, casual, and endurance apparel categories, and brought products “to life” for a jam-packed ballroom of attending buyers and media.

“The fashion show was a huge success for us,” said Jerry Rinder, vice president of sales and marketing for Woolrich. “It wasn't your typical fashion show. It brought the Woolrich Heritage line to life in an energetic and youthful way, and it brought buyers into our booth where we could discuss how we've updated our traditional products with technical fabrics and design.”

Project OR

In its first year at Winter Market, Outdoor Retailer hosted the second cycle of “Project OR,” a 48-hour concept-to-prototype student design competition meant to inspire innovative winter outdoor fashions. Ron Rod, a design student from Colorado State University, walked away with the title after designing and completing a woman's mid-layer jacket complete with a fully-integrated and working sound system.

Show attendees and exhibitors were encouraged to track their favorite contestant during daily episodes (available for viewing online and in the Design Center) and participate in a live voting component of the competition. Curt Sousa, a student from Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), was the winner of the People's Choice award.

Scandinavian Village

In the Scandinavian Village, OR attendees were able to explore the product offering and culture of members of the Scandinavian Outdoor Group (SOG), 30 leading Scandinavian outdoor brands founded to serve and support retail customers and media in European markets.

“Scandinavian brands offer American retailers a whole new section of colors and styles from solid brands that have been around for more than 100 years,” said Martin Kossler, chairman of the board for the Scandinavian Outdoor Group. “Beyond expanding distribution into U.S. storefronts, our exhibitors are giving us great feedback about the orders being written and the networking opportunities here at Outdoor Retailer.”

The next Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, a trade-only event, will begin with Backcountry Base Camp to be held at Snowbasin Ski Resort on January 20, 2010, followed by the indoor portion of the show at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, January 21-24.

“We got off to a great start at our Backcounty Base Camp at Snowbasin with hundreds of retailers and industry VIPs getting a first-hand opportunity to try out the latest and greatest in outdoor gear on some of the best snow on earth,” Haroutunian said. “That vibe continued on Day One of the show itself at the Outdoor Industry Association breakfast, an industry gathering that featured world-famous filmmaker Ken Burns sharing a short clip from his fall 2009 documentary, 'The National Parks: America's Best Idea.' The film will inspire millions to get outside and use the lands their taxpayer dollars provide. And now, with snow falling here in Salt Lake City, I can say I feel very good about this year's Outdoor Retailer Winter Market.”