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The last day of The Big Gear Show was more sparsely populated than the previous two days, but plenty of attendees still turned out for one more day of handshakes (and/or fist bumps) and shop talk before everyone packed up their wares to head home. It was hot today—the hottest day of the show—and for many, the paddlesports demo area was the place to be.
In total, 138 companies brought 206 individual brands to the show, with 421 retailers (individuals, not shops) and 71 media rounding out the experience.
“These numbers represent the people that made The Big Gear Show a reality,” wrote Matthew Pacocha, senior account manager at Verde Brand Communications (which represented the show), after the event ended. “[Show organizers] are proud to have pulled this thing off, and they’re already looking for ways to make it better. They’ll be on the same search for ideas, back pats, constructive criticism, and feedback from both exhibitors and retailers—starting right now.”
As we made our rounds on this last day, there were definitely two schools of thought we encountered about how the whole thing came off. On one hand, we heard from brands disappointed with the lack of retailer participation and attendance. Next year, these folks said, they hope to see more shops represented from day one. On the other hand, some vendors loved how the show turned out, finding incredible value in the small format and demo-centered experience. As you can see in our exhibitor and retailer hot takes below, opinions were all over the map.
That said, the big question on everyone’s mind, as the show wound down, was whether or not it will happen again next year. On that point, Pacocha was clear.
“Tomorrow, [show organizers] start planning for 2022,” he wrote.
Exhibitor hot takes
“I love the concept and location, but the lack of retailers is frustrating. We don’t have our bro circle since we’re new to the industry. It was just slower than we had hoped.” —Forrest Rogers, Co-owner, Crazy Creek
“It’s been great right out of the gates for us, a steady flow of retailers—regular customers and a number of new prospects. Of course, we’ve had mountain bikes to demo and I don’t think there are many companies here that do, so that’s been good for us. Our demo bikes have been out 100 percent of the time. We don’t really try to write orders in this environment but we focus on solidifying our business with existing customers and setting the stage with new prospects.” —Larry Pizzi, Chief Commercial Officer, Alta Cycling Group
“The Big Gear Show did a fantastic job making all of us feel safe. Everyone will always wish for more retailer traffic, but everyone we’ve talked to—brands and retailers—have positive things to say. We haven’t had as many people out in boats as we would have liked, but we don’t have anything new to show. Our R&D department has been shuttered since the start of the pandemic because every single staffer we have has been working the factory to keep up with demand.” —Bill Kueper, Vice President, Wenonah Canoe
“We have a fantastic spot right near the registration booth, so it’s been awesome. We’ve signed up 15 new retailers, so it’s been well worth it.” —Greg Windom, President, Ledlenser
Retailer hot takes
“I think it’s a great concept and I’m looking forward to seeing it grow. I’d like to see more vendors and more education. And by education I mean staff training. It would be really cool to see the show offer staff training for stores like mine. But overall, it’s nice to just come to a show and have fun outside.” —Christine Iksic, Co-owner, 3 Rivers Outdoor Company
“Overall this show was a good start. We will add four new vendors based on what we saw here. I think we need a cost-effective industry show to get a pulse on everything. The other shows have been so expensive for the vendors that they can’t justify the cost. I hope more manufacturers get on board and I hope dealers realize how important trade shows are.” —Jeff Milbauer, President, Valley Bike & Ski”
We got to meet a lot of different brands that we want to bring into our shop. Because there are supply chain issues, they’re not all showing up at our door. Our shop only opened in March 2021. We formed the company in September 2020, assuming that by spring the supply chain issues would be cleared up. We’ve been chomping at the bit to get out here and get in front of people so we’re more on the map with reps. We didn’t place any orders though; we’re going to do that after the show. —Manny Saggio, Owner, Loose Wheel Bicycle Company
Patches for good
Earl B. Hunter Jr. of Black Folks Camp Too was in the house to promote his new partnership with Leave No Trace, which provides outdoor education and scholarships for the Black community. To support and fund the program, Hunter worked with Noso Patches to create a “Unity Blaze” patch, which will sell for a minimum $10 donation.
Hot new products
We continued our scouting for the best and buzziest new products on the last day of the show. From footwear to hip packs to grill setups, here are the items that caught our eye.
Scarpa’s new trail running line looks pretty sweet. It consists of two models available in both men’s and women’s. The Golden Gate Kima RT (rough trail) features a carbon-fiber underfoot plate ($179) while the Golden Gate ATR (all terrain) offers more cush and stack height ($159). Learn more at scarpa.com/alpine-running.
Overlanders and car campers will dig this new kitchen rig from HitchFire. It’s a propane-fired grill system that attaches right to your car or truck’s hitch for convenient storage that doesn’t take up room inside. The base system costs $549 and a variety of accessories are available. Learn more at hitchfire.com.
Metal frames are so in right now. Zeal’s latest metal collection features recycled stainless steel frames, eco-based rubber grips, and ceramic nose pads, giving them a good eco-story and of course plenty of on-trend style. Learn more at zealoptics.com.
BruTrek is a new coffee accessory company that loves the taste of good French-press coffee. And by good, they mean not bitter. Its full line of insulated presses (various sizes) aims to solve the bitterness problem with Bru-Stop Technology, which creates a physical barrier to stop over-steeping between the grounds and the brewed coffee. Check it out at brutek.com.
It’s always nice to see new startups hitting the show circuit for the first time. Hikers Brew, a coffee company based in Eau Claire, Wis., told us that BGS was the company’s first outdoor trade show, and the couple that runs the business couldn’t be happier with the results. “It’s been great to get our brand more recognition,” said founder and CEO Zach Pechua. “The response to the product has been wonderful,” said co-owner Addy Serum.