Winter Market bristles with buyers, exhibits
The Salt Palace brimmed with outdoor gear and buyers perusing hundreds of exhibitors during the 2007 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market Show, which ran Jan. 27-30.
Peter Devin, group show director for Outdoor Retailer, predicted they would see a record number of exhibitors and with the expansion of the Salt Palace, and the reduction of outside tents, he was right.
"If you want to see everything, this is where to be, there are not many places like it," said Ron Menconi, a buyer for G.I. Joes in Wilsonville, Ore. "It’s really nice with updated expansion of the building. We don’t have to go out in the tents."
Menconi travels the country every year attending shows to help fill his stores with the latest outdoor equipment and apparel.
"Outdoor Retailer is the premium outdoor show," he said. "I’ve seen some new things, new packaging and new innovation."
Menconi noticed more apparel and footwear in this show. The apparel is eye-candy to many of the buyers who explored the depths of the Salt Palace.
"This is like a business vacation, it’s fun," said Anita Gordon a buyer for Monkey Business, a boutique outdoor apparel store based in McCall, Idaho. Gordon, who has been to the last three shows in Salt Lake, thought the show was smaller this year.
"I thought, ‘Wow this is really small, it’s less than I expected.’" Gordon said. "Then I realized that they expanded and I didn’t even see the (west) section. I walked out and saw the (Energy Solutions Arena) through the window and thought, ‘This is really big.’"
A growing trend seen this year is the increasing awareness of the green movement. Many outdoor companies are trying to reduce their footprints on the planet.
"It’s busier than it has been. There are more vendors," said Doug Keller from Redmond, Ore., who buys for an online company called Altrec.com. "A lot of vendors are doing similar categories. There are a lot of natural materials, organic clothing and recycled clothing."
One company that has embraced the green movement is a Sandy, Utah company called "Green Brand" by Sansegal. It produces apparel from recycled cotton and organic methods of production. Green Brand sells a lot of its product to national parks and resorts from California to Maine and locally their product can be found at "Shirt Off My Back" on Main Street and at Deer Valley.
Exhibitors for Green Brand have attended a slew of shows recently, including surf and golf markets, and found an interest among outdoor buyers.
"This is a new arena for us," said Matt Frandsen, an account executive for the company. "The outdoor market has a high niche; it’s an educated public, which makes it easy to sell. It’s nice."
Frandsen said the traffic was a little down from last year, as he blames the show moving from Saturday through Tuesday instead of Friday through Monday. Many of the buyers he noticed, went home early. However, his company was still able to sign deals with many companies such as Cabelas.
"It’s been really good for us," Frandsen said. "We got good reactions and we’ve signed a lot of contracts."
Disegna North America, an outdoor apparel company that has its offices and a small warehouse in Park City, also utilizes environmental awareness in its production of fleece, sweaters and soft shells. It had probably its best Outdoor Retailer Market show, so far.
"We’ve had the best location so far and location is big," said Jerry Wall, the Denver representative for Disegna.
Wall says their location is better in part due to the expansion of the Salt Palace which created more indoor space.
Kim Huffman, a 30-year Park City resident and general Manager for Disegna, has seen his company grow because of shows like Outdoor Retailer.
"We’ve seen a good increase of business from it. Our customer base is growing quickly in all major snow states," Huffman said. "It was a good weekend; we had a lot of walk-bys and appointments. We were in a better location that gave us better traffic. It was easier for people to see us. People need to see you."
Disegna just returned form a ski apparel show in Las Vegas. This was its last national show of the year but they will attend more regional shows in the next few months. With the shows they’ve seen, they say nothing compares with Outdoor Retailer.
"This has really grown," Wall said. "The breadth of what’s carried here, there’s no other show like it. Outdoor Retailer is the biggest show in Utah, and it’s better since they expanded the hall and people aren’t in the tents."
MPG, a clothing company based in Santa Barbara, experienced great success in its first Outdoor market show. Their goal, according to representative James Vaccaro, is to combine fashion, form and function in its lines. It’s something he thinks people are looking for.
"We want to bridge outdoor clothes with fashion," Vaccaro said. "People want that lifestyle. It’s also technical on the higher-end."
The clothing incorporates the technical aspects to enhance outdoor performance while still looking good.
"It’s more fashionable and formfitting, it’s received so well," Vaccaro said. "There are people that still want to go out and look good. We have items like longer running shorts and iPod pockets and fashion."
The show was so successful for MPG this year that Vaccaro said it will come back next year with more to show.
"It’s been phenomenal," Vaccaro said. "There’s been so much buzz, it’s unbelievable. We’ve had National Geographic, Outside Magazine and Men’s Health interested. We’ll be here next year absolutely, with a bigger and better booth."
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