Local companies flock to Outdoor Retailer
January 23, 2015
Nestled among more than 1,000 retailers jammed into the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, representatives from Rossignol spent the week showing off their products to potential buyers along with anyone and everyone who wanted to listen.
Rossignol was one of several companies with Park City ties that flocked to the annual Outdoor Retailer winter market, one of the biggest trade shows in the country. Held from Tuesday through Saturday, the event allows vendors to connect with buyers and highlights upcoming trends within the industry.
Alex Green, who works in Rossignol’s dealer services department, said the Outdoor Retailer show allows the ski gear manufacturer to show off on a big stage. The company staffs its booth with representatives hoping to catch the attention of buyers from all over the country looking for products to fill next winter’s inventory.
"It’s a big deal," she said. "We prep for it for a long time to make sure we have all of the product available to show to everybody. For my department, it’s also a big learning experience. Traffic is crazy and we have people coming in and out constantly. We’ve had full schedules of appointments to talk about preseason orders, and that’s the bulk of where we make our money."
Kurt Hoefler, Rossignol’s vice president of sales and marketing, said the event essentially serves as the North American launch of its Nordic ski gear. The worldwide Nordic skiing competition circuit is getting into full swing, and the company uses the season to highlight its new line of products.
"It’s when Nordic and backcountry are being watched on a worldwide basis," Hoefler said. "This is a very strategic show for us when it comes to Nordic skiing. It’s the most important show that we have for this category."
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But local vendors aren’t the only ones who mark the event on their calendars. It is also important for retail stores trying to ensure their shelves will be stocked next winter with the hottest items.
Jana Cole, owner of Cole Sport, which has three Park City locations, said the store places an emphasis on hitting the Outdoor Retailer — which also holds a summer event in Salt Lake City — hard.
"We think that Outdoor Retailer is very important, and it’s nice that it’s in our backyard," she said. "Our buyers go down for the entire event, and they usually have appointments with vendors that we normally use. And they also walk through the whole thing looking for new vendors."
Another important aspect of the event is catching up on what the competition is doing. For Rossignol, that means taking notes about other lines of ski gear. The crucial information gained helps the company stay on top of emerging trends.
"It’s our opportunity to see our competitors and to evaluate their lines against our lines," Hoefler said. "But we also get feedback from our dealers and see how our collection stacks up. We’ve already got stuff in the works for three years down the road, but it gives us a chance to make some adjustments to those long-term plans going forward, based on what our competitors are doing."
While local companies would likely make their way to Outdoor Retailer no matter where it was held — Hoefler said Rossignol, for instance, attends smaller regional trade shows throughout the country — the fact it’s located in their backyard is definitely a plus.
"It’s amazing, actually. It’s super convenient," Hoefler said. "I’m a Park City resident, so I slept in my bed last night. And our distribution center for the United States is in Ogden, so we can basically load our booth on a truck and bring it down. It makes it so easy for us."