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The Big Gear Show is officially underway in Park City, Utah. The start of the inaugural open-air trade show was a buzz of excitement as many outdoor industry vets met face-to-face for the first time in over a year. The day was sunny and clear, and as the sunscreen flowed, more than 300 retailers showed up to mingle with hundreds of exhibitors and media in a roped off space at the base of Deer Valley Resort for a day of shaking hands, demoing new gear, and generally getting back into the swing of things after a long time away.
The show felt much small and intimate, but that was the point. With a limited exhibitor and attendee list, it was possible to walk the event multiple times in a day, and conversations ran much longer than the typical 15-minute meetings often found at bigger events. There was time for shooting the breeze at Day 1 of BGS, and that’s exactly what people wanted to do. The main excitement centered on chatting, hugging, and spending time with colleagues we haven’t seen in a long time. Because the show is built around demos, attendees also spent hours on the mountains and in the water, trying out bikes on Deer Valley’s trails and paddling around the small lake adjacent to the show grounds.
We spent the day chatting with exhibitors, retailers, and other media folks, hunting down the buzziest topics of the day to give you a flavor of what you missed. If you couldn’t make it out, here’s what went down on Day 1 of The Big Gear Show.
Exhibitor feedback on Day 1 of The Big Gear Show
Exhibitors were happy to be there, and excited about the format of the show.
- “I’m psyched,” said Vince Mazzuca, director of marketing at Osprey. “Under these bluebird skies, this just feels right for the first industry gathering in so long. We’ve had great conversations with important retailers.”
- “The color-coded lanyards [indicating how comfortable people are with closeness and physical contact] are brilliant,” said Whitney DeBree, senior manager of brand communications for Adidas Terrex and Five Ten. “They allow everyone to be comfortable and read the room. It’s great to be able to know how to approach everyone and define your own boundaries. Overall, we’re excited about this concept and believe in the vision. I’m looking forward to seeing The Big Gear Show become more defined as it matures.”
Retailer feedback on Day 1 of The Big Gear Show
- We caught up with Jahmicah and Heather Dawes at our booth to share with them the summer issue of our print magazine, which features a profile on the plight of their Texas retailer, Slim Pickins Outfitters. This was the Dawes’ first trade show. “The optics of being seen as Black-owned outdoor retailer at this show was important to me,” Dawes told OBJ. “I was nervous, but I felt a sense of responsibility to be here, to show others that this is not only doable but enjoyable.”
- “This show was a great first step, with room for growth,” said Wes Allen owner of Sunlight Sports. “The concept is super solid. You can see some opportunities to clean things up, but this show feels like the outdoor industry. It’s not perfect—registration was slow and they didn’t finalize their exhibitor list early enough—but it’s unfair to expect it to be perfect out of the gate.”
Mountain Hardwear searches for new president
We got to meet Mountain Hardwear’s head of marketing, Matt Burbach, for the first time. He told us that the company is working with an executive search firm to replace Joe Vernachio, who left for a job with Allbirds recently. Burbach said Vernachio’s shoes will be hard to fill: “Joe left the brand in the best place it’s been in a long time.”
The Joy Trip Project commissions important artwork
OBJ contributor James Edward Mills and artist Lamont Joseph White unveiled a new portrait by White during a happy hour hosted by American Alpine Club. Mills commissioned White, along with the support of Seirus Innovation and Outdoor Research, to honor Charles Madison Crenchaw, the first African American to summit Denali. The painting will be on exhibit in the American Mountaineering Museum in Golden, Colorado later this summer.
Supply chain case study: Issues for Ignik
“Our domestic supply chain has been more stressed than our international,” said Graeme Esarey, founder and CEO of personal heating product brand Ignik. “The materials that we get in the U.S. from New England, the Midwest, and the West Coast have caused us for more trouble than the goods we get from our factories in Thailand, China, and Taiwan. We believe labor shortages in the U.S., which are more acute than elsewhere in the world, are to blame.”
GSI Outdoors makes moves away from plastic
Tom Hathaway, director of North American sales for GSI Outdoors, told Outside Business Journal that the company has made moves to transition away from plastic in its packaging. The initiative is still in the pilot stage, but so far, the response has been deeply enthusiastic, according to Hathaway. “We think that can roll out wide in the near future,” he said.
From the water
Perhaps the best view of the show was from the water, where show-goers could test out paddle brands’ new products.