Outdoor Retailer move to Denver could help local shops, boost state’s brand
What: Outdoor Retailer summer and winter trade shows.
New location: Denver.
Contract length: Five years.
Colorado Convention Center size: 584,000 square feet.
EAGLE COUNTY — When it comes to branding, Colorado’s outdoor life can be summed up in the view popping out of the west side of the Eisenhower Johnson Tunnels on Interstate 70. That brand stands to become stronger when a premier outdoor trade show moves to Denver.
Emerald Expositions, the longtime owner of the Outdoor Retailer trade shows in summer and winter, recently signed a five-year deal to bring those shows from Salt Lake City to Denver’s Colorado Convention Center. The winter show — set for late January — will be combined with the annual SnowSports Industries America Snow Show, which Emerald acquired earlier this year.
The move was heralded by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper at a news conference announcing the deal Thursday at Denver’s City Park. The move was also popular with some Eagle County-based gear manufacturers.
Phil Shetting is the CEO of Edwards-based Sync Performance Outerwear. Shettig said that while the shows will be a boost for Denver, moving the shows closer to home is a “nicety” for his company.
“Sometimes trade shows are a necessity,” Shettig said. “It could be in Iceland and we’d have to go.”
One stop shopping
The winter show will save both buyers and sellers a trade show trip — with its attendant fees and travel costs. And, Shettig said, the shows in Denver will help market the mountains.
“Marketing in Denver makes a lot of sense,” Shettig said. “The pre- and post-show events can be valuable.”
At Eagle-Vail-based Cirque Mountain Apparel, sales manager Eric Kogan said he’s looking forward to an easier trip to a big show.
“In terms of brand awareness, Outdoor Retailer and (the Snow Show) are musts,” Kogan said, adding that sometimes the trade shows are more about marketing than sales.
“It’s a great time,” Kogan said. “You get to meet a lot of cool people.”
Obviously, the 100-mile drive to Denver is far preferable to the long haul to Salt Lake City for people based in the region. But, Kogan said, people coming from outside the area might have an easier time making connections into and out of Denver International Airport.
Kogan said holding the show in Denver might also attract smaller Colorado brands looking for exposure. That includes Cirque.
While the show layout hasn’t been determined, Shettig said he’d like to see part of the convention center dedicated to Colorado brands.
A similar “village” at recent Snow Shows was helpful to all of those local brands, Shettig said.
While the bulk of the economic impact will stay in the Denver area, Vail Valley Partnership CEO Chris Romer said the local economy might see a bit of a boost through brand association.
Not all local brands affected
While landing Outdoor Retailer is viewed as a coup for Denver, not everyone with a local brand or shop will be affected.
Mike Kloser said he doubts he’ll take his OutThere USA brand of backpacks to the big trade shows.
“The Outdoor Retailer is a great show,” Kloser said. “They’ve got a great program, and it’s needed for the industry.”
On the other hand, Kloser said, his company’s gear does better either online or in the hands of specialty retail shops, where the employees really know what they’re selling.
That said, Kloser stated he’ll probably attend the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show in January.
Venture Sports owner Mike Brumbaugh said the Snow Show simply isn’t a must-do for his company.
“Pretty much every (representative) I know lives in either Eagle or Summit county,” Brumbaugh said.
For manufacturers, Brumbaugh said consolidating Outdoor Retailer and Snow Show is probably a good thing.
“There are so many shows,” Brumbaugh said, adding half-jokingly, “If Black Diamond or Rossignol spends $1 million on shows, and if they can do this one for $500,000, maybe (retailers) can get a little better deal.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com or @scottnmiller.