Outdoor Retailer Winter is just around the corner, with the show running Nov. 14-16 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
This show will be a bit different than previous OR shows, so we checked in with OR Show Director Sean Smith to find out more about what attendees can expect.
Tell us how the November show is shaping up.
Outdoor Retailer Show Director Sean Smith: The show is shaping up well. For those who might not know, the decision to move from January to November was made last year when we already had the January 2023 Snow Show in place. We’re in a unique situation – because of the move to November, the Winter Show will be our third show in 2023.
But that won’t be the case going forward – in 2024 and onward we’ll only offer two shows with the Summer Show in June and Winter Show in November.
We recognize that having this third show thrown into the mix late in the budgeting process is a challenge for some companies, but we’ve got an exciting lineup of exhibitors. And the list of buyers already registered for the show confirms that the move to November is what retailers want in terms of the buying cycle for winter.
How many brands are expected?
Sean Smith: As of now we have 192 brands – from snow to lifestyle to overland to camp and hike to sourcing brands, as well as a number of brands that are new to OR.
Veteran exhibitors include Pendleton, Thread Wallets, Global Sales Guys, World Famous Sports, Ortovox, Backcountry, Grand Trunk, Bison Designs, Liberty Mountain, Lucky Brand Workwear, Jack and Sage, Maine Outdoor Brands, Island Daze, and more.
We’re really excited to welcome new brands including Loop Division, WoodChart, SUUS Racks, ERA Group, and several others.
And we’re still getting calls to book space.
How will this show be different from past OR shows?
Sean Smith: It will be a bit smaller since it’s the third show in one calendar year, but the good thing is that it will allow brands who are exhibiting to be seen and heard. Buyers will not feel as rushed to make their way around the show to see everything and hold meetings and appointments. They will also have the ability to discover new brands while also spending quality time with them, which is so important in deciding whether or not to bring in something new to their shop.
We’ll still have great educational content in The Camp with speakers from Circana, OIA, Quickfire and Olly, Visit Salt Lake and YPulse. And thanks to Basecamp Outdoor and the Bouldering Project SLC, there will be an awesome opening night party with food, drinks, DJ, climbing, puppy yoga (yup, you heard that right), art, and photo booths. It’s going to be a great time!
What should attendees know about the November show?
Sean Smith: Attendees should come prepared for a great, intimate show with plenty of time to network with fellow attendees and exhibiting brands, to discover new products and brands, place orders, and attend educational sessions in The Camp.
I think it will be great for buyers and other attendees to not feel so rushed to get through it all. They will be able to place orders and get actual quality time with the amazing brands and people that make up the outdoor industry.
Outdoor Retailer recently announced significant changes coming in 2024. Are you worried at all that people may get confused and expect those changes to be implemented for the November 2023 show?
Sean Smith: We’re doing everything we can to communicate clearly that the changes are coming starting with the Summer Show in June 2024.
That’s when OR will be investing massively in moving to a hosted-buyer format. Additionally, the sourcing section will become its own show – Outdoor Design & Innovation – and will be co-located with OR in summer and winter.
Booth sizes will be capped at 2,000 square feet and we’ll be dedicating a couple of hours each day of the show for buyers only. And to be clear, that doesn’t mean non-buyers will be left out of the show at all. We just want to give both the brands and buyers some limited, set time each day to focus on doing business. That’s such a vital part of any trade show.
All of this is coming in 2024, but we’re still feeling great about our offering at the November show due to the more intimate setting.
Some people who have been around the outdoor industry for a long time want Outdoor Retailer to be like it was in the past. What can you say to the industry about the future direction of the show, and how OR is moving forward?
Sean Smith: It’s important to first put everything in perspective for a question like that. The industry is not the same as it was back then, nor is the world the same after the pandemic. So many things have changed in the business world in general – supply chain issues, followed by inventory issues, inflation, and economic challenges.
That’s why OR is adapting to be the show it needs to be for the industry where we are today. We’ve listened to our exhibitors and attendees and have made changes that both sides are asking for in order to give them the best possible experience. Everything we do is based on customer and audience feedback and where the industry and the world is today.
Outdoor Retailer is going to be the best place where retail buyers can discover new brands and products and where our community can get energized by fresh ideas and concepts. New business connections will take root and will pay off for years to come.
That is what we are focusing on and plan to deliver for OR’s future. As long as we deliver on that, I’m confident that the show will be what the industry needs.