For the love of Outdoor Retailer |

For the love of Outdoor Retailer

Organizers of the Outdoor Retail Summer Market know about climbing mountains, but they’ve also moved them in recent years to shuffle the show’s schedules.

Show director Kenji Haroutunian said his company continually makes changes to the summer and winter markets to better serve the needs of exhibitors and attendees. Recently that has meant experimenting with the dates of the show.

Changing when one of Salt Lake City’s largest events is held is no small task, however, but according to the Salt Lake Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, it’s worth it.

"It was a complicated and heroic maneuver," Haroutunian said. "I don’t know if there’s another city in the country that could pull that off."

In 2008, the show began Aug. 7. That was moved forward in 2009 to July 21 to accommodate retailers who needed more lead time for merchandise to arrive, to market it, and stock shelves.

Stores buy merchandise for the following summer during the show. After each market, items must be manufactured, shipped, stored, inventoried, displayed and advertised.

But the July 21 date was hard on the paddle sports industry a sector of the show that had considered breaking away because its needs were not being met.

Paddle sports have high shipping costs and small profit margins. The industry has been struggling in recent years and has unique needs, Haroutunian explained.

Most boats and other watercraft are manufactured domestically so the lead time is much less. Earlier Summer Markets were great for companies importing from China and Vietnam, he said, but July was way too early for Paddle Sports for which ordering usually takes place later in the year.

In 2010, the concession was made to begin the show Aug. 3. That’s still early enough for most companies, but not too early for boat makers.

But the Salt Palace is not a hotel ballroom; reservations are made years in advance. The Outdoor Retailer Winter and Summer Markets, however, are no normal business convention.

Shawn Stinson, director of communications for the Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau said the economic impact on Salt Lake City businesses from the two markets is worth about $35 to $40 million per year.

"Outdoor Retailer is one of our best partners. It’s not just an annual show for us," he said.

One of the proverbial mountains to be moved was a Stamping Up convention, he said. The network-marketing company selling scrapbook supplies holds a sizable convention every year and reserved some of the dates the Summer Market wanted.

Stinson said they had to plead the case.

"Salt Lake City relies a great deal on Outdoor Retailer year in and year out for a substantial economic impact," he said.

In addition to shuffling two large conventions, there are dozens of businesses impacted such as hotels, restaurants and transportation companies, Stinson added.

What made it possible was the support people in Salt Lake City have for hosting the markets, he said.

"We’re fortunate in that people around here love Outdoor Retailer because it brings in substantial amount of economic impact, but they also participate in, and believe in, the ethos. People live here because they love the mountains," he explained.

This kind of challenge happens periodically, Stinson said. A few years ago hosting Rotary International had to be shuffled because Salt Lake City traded host years with New Orleans to allow the Big Easy more time to recover from Hurricane Katrina flooding.

View Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in a larger map

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