Vail’s Arn Menconi: Winter outdoor show reports biggest turnout ever
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado
Editor’s note: Arn Menconi, executive director of Avon-based youth nonprofit SOS Outreach, is on the road attending various ski and snowboard industry tradeshows and conferences. He’ll be sending periodical dispatches from the events, telling readers what’s new and interesting in the world of snow sports. This dispatch came Monday from the Outdoor Retailer winter tradeshow in Salt Lake City, Utah.
SALT LAKE CITY – The Outdoor Retailer Winter Market is officially over, and most of the thousands of attendees that filled the halls during the four-day tradeshow agreed that the energy was high and that retailers were optimistic about the coming year.
For SOS Outreach, the show was positive and a series of small successes. Many companies wanted to partner with us to provide gear and clothing for our winter and summer programs, which will allow us to keep kids dry and warm while experiencing the outdoor lifestyle. Most outdoor company representatives I spoke to seemed to understand that some of the most important work for the industry is to reach youth from different groups to create the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts.
We were even thrilled to see some companies, such as the thermos manufacturer Stanley, send cash grants to SOS, which will benefit the 5,000-plus kids we serve across the country.
Here are some highlights from the weekend:
• The Outdoor Retailer winter tradeshow had its biggest turnout ever, seeing a 15 percent increase in attendance over last year, said Outdoor Industry Association President Frank Hugelmeyer.
The show traditionally brings about 18,000 attendees and about 1,000 exhibitors – this year toward the end of the show, the attendance was expected to be more than 21,000. The outcome is an indicator that the outdoor industry is rebounding, he said.
“What we’re hearing in the halls is that companies expect it to be a terrific year,” he said. “People are looking for affordable, close-to-home activities, and the active lifestyle has definitely made the cut for American consumers. We’re the beneficiaries of that – we’re lucky and we know it.”
One of the biggest “new technologies” hitting the show was Liberty Mountain’s Vector avalanche beacon.
Traditional top beacons have a 50-meter range and still requires guesswork as to the specific location of the victim after the beacon signal is detected. However, this beacon has a 70-meter range and integrates GPS technology to pinpoint the exact location of the victim, said Skylar Hoellein of Liberty Mountain.
“This is the only beacon out there with this technology,” he said. “This is the first show that it’s been introduced, and it won’t be available until this fall, but we’re expecting it will be well received.”
This weekend I will be headed to the Snowsports Industries of America (SIA) tradeshow in Denver, where the atmosphere will be even more intense.