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Outdoor Retailer

Outdoor Retailer switches to June/November format for 2018

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In partnership with Outdoor Industry Association, Outdoor Retailer changes from summer/winter format to fall/spring timing and Grassroots Outdoor Alliance relocates its shows to Utah. The resulting outdoor mega-show has most of the industry applauding.

Photo: Kristin Hostetter

FOR 35 YEARS, the Outdoor Retailer trade show has been a fixture on our calendars in mid-winter and mid-summer.

Today Outdoor Retailer, in partnership with Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and Grassroots Outdoor Alliance (GOA), announces a major shift in show dates beginning in June 2018.

The Summer Market will shift to mid-June and the Winter Market will shift to mid-November, and both shows will immediately follow Grassroots Connect, which will relocate to Sandy, Utah. The end result will be somewhat of a mega-show, running 10 consecutive days in summer and 9 in winter, with one day of specialty retailer education sandwiched in between.

Photo: Kristin Hostetter

GOA Connect will remain a members and invite-only event, and both Outdoor Retailer and Grassroots Outdoor Alliance will maintain autonomy. But the two entities will cooperate to ensure that exhibitors and specialty retailers can attend both events in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

The shift has been a long time coming

The decision to shift dates was not taken lightly.

“Understanding the needs of the industry was paramount in our collaborative work with both Outdoor Retailer and Grassroots Outdoor Alliance to provide a valuable and productive opportunity to preview product, launch the buying process and conduct important marketing and media discussions,” said Amy Roberts, executive director of OIA. “As the industry’s trade association, we take great pride in uniting the industry and leading trade and outdoor recreation policy, sustainability best practices, youth engagement outreach and market and consumer research.”

Starting last March, OR undertook a series of interviews performed by a 3rd party research firm with key stakeholders. That round of research was followed by an online survey open to a broader pool of OR attendees.

Photo by Carlo Nassise/Outdoor Retailer

Finally, at Summer Market in August ’16, OR invited specialty retailers, cornerstone brands, and segment leaders to participate in newly established advisory panels. They also met with all rep event leaders to make sure their needs were being considered. “These meetings and future advisory panels will continue to be guiding entities. Regular meetings of the advisory panels will take place at both the Winter and Summer Market shows,” says Marisa Nicholson VP and Outdoor Retailer Show Director.

“This is the single biggest change we’ve faced with OR in 35 years,” Nicholson told SNEWS. “We wanted to make sure we’re doing everything right by the industry and that took time. We wanted to think through the effect on the entire industry, to understand the needs of all our market segments and figure out how to address those segments that our traditional timeframe doesn’t work for.”

Co-locating with Grassroots Outdoor Alliance

A key piece of this integrated plan is Grassroots, which will now host its shows in Sandy, Utah. (In recent years GOA shows have taken place in Knoxville, Tennessee, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Loveland, Colorado) One common complaint among retailers, brands and reps working in the industry has been the jam-packed trade show even calendar, which is both expensive and time-consuming.

“Going to all these shows takes us out of the stores too much and puts our businesses at risk,” says Rich Hill, president of GOA. “This consolidation is a benefit to the whole industry.”


Phil Leeds, owner of Skinny Skis in Jackson, Wyoming and GOA member says, “When you look at GOA’s intro to the trade show business, it was all in response to making it a true buying show, and it’s grown significantly because the timeline makes sense and resonates with retailer and vendors.”

Hill says, “We have been a tribe looking for a home for some time, and we were always open to a new location. Moving to Sandy, and having access to Emerald resources in terms of negotiating and booking trade shows is a huge plus for us.

Reaction from the Grassroots Summit Show

The buzz on the floor of the GOA show in Knoxville this week has been very positive.

Mike Massey, owner of Massey’s Outfitter in New Orleans says, “This is a great thing for our industry and a necessary move for OIA and OR. It shows an understanding that the buying cycles are changing.

“I’m glad that the GOA show will precede OR, and we have a buying opportunity directly before the marketing arm. Let’s get our work done before the music and beer.

Plus, companies will save money and travel time by this consolidation. “We might not stay for the entire 9 days, but we are more likely to bring more buyers to this new event,” says Massey.

Photo: Courtesy of GOA

Todd Frank, owner of Trail Head in Missoula, Montana agrees. ���Something had to happen.” Franks had been skipping Summer OR in recent years because the timing didn’t work. “I missed going to the summer show because it’s fun to look around at all the new stuff. But it would cost me thousands of dollars to get there, and all of our orders were already turned in. Now, we’ll be able to drive down from Missoula for at least part of both shows.”

One of the perks of GOA membership is that it subsidizes show travel expenses for its members, which means that GOA members will now have their OR travel partially subsidized, too.

Leeds, a former Grassroots board member, is also encouraged by OR’s shift. “GOA showed the industry how dysfunctional the traditional buying cycle was, and it stepped up to fill the void. OR recognizing that is very positive for the whole industry.

One the brand side, Peter Sachs of Lowa Boots is also happy with the change. “I think the combined GOA/OR strategy is logical. The whole thing could still be shortened by few days, and made more efficient. I wish they would push the envelope a little further.”

An Outdoor Retailer Winter Expo in 2019?

To address the void this new schedule creates for ski companies and shops, OR will continue to put on a January event in Salt Lake City. This “Expo” will be similar to the current winter OR in that it will include an All Mountain Demo Day followed by two to three days at the Salt Palace.

The SIA Snow Show takes place in Denver in late January.

Many retailers and brands hope that OR and SIA will find a way to come together to co-produce a single winter event, a possibility that seems within the realm of possibility especially since SIA has recently relocated to Park City.

But for now, that remains to be seen.

What about paddlesports?

To provide a solution for the paddlesports segments, OR is teaming up with Surf Expo in early September 2018 in Orlando, Florida. The details of how OR will integrate into the show are not yet known.

“If after additional meetings with our advisory council, we determine that a different platform is preferred, we’ll figure that out,” says Nicholson.

So, open up your calendars and mark these key dates. It’s status quo for 2017, but it’s a whole new ballgame after that.


Outdoor Retailer All Mountain Demo: January 9
Outdoor Retailer Winter Market: January 10-12
Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Spring Summit/Connect: June 12-16 (Albuquerque, NM)
Outdoor Retailer Open Air Demo: July 25
Outdoor Retailer Summer Market: July 26-29
Grassroots Outdoor Fall Alliance Summit/Connect: November 7-10 (Knoxville, TN)

Outdoor Retailer Winter Market: January 9-11
Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Connect: June 6-9
Specialty Retailer Education Day: June 10
Outdoor Retailer Summer Market: June 11-14
Outdoor Retailer Paddle Life Expo @ Surf Expo: September 6-8
Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Connect: November 7-10
Specialty Retailer Education Day: November 11
Outdoor Retailer Winter Market: November 12-15

Outdoor Retailer Winter Expo: January

**Read the official announcement/press release from Outdoor Retailer, Outdoor Industry Association and Grassroots Outdoor Alliance here.