SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, CA (BRAIN)—Participants of the 2009 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market are optimistic about the opportunities for the outdoor recreation market and are committed to weathering the economic challenges together.
Those were the sentiments gathered by Outdoor Retailer executives following an active week of summer product demos at Open Air Demo and of meetings and exhibits at Summer Market Expo.
"This year's Summer Market had a lot of energy and action throughout the floor, especially in the community zones we put together for paddlesports, endurance, design and climbing," said Kenji Haroutunian, Outdoor Retailer show director. "During the show it was more apparent than ever that we, as an industry, have a strength and resilience in numbers. Despite market conditions, the industry showed its innovative side, both in creative, cost-effective booth treatments and emphasis on value to the dealers."
These feelings were communicated throughout the show, as attendees combed the more than 900 exhibitor booths, as retail buyers placed orders for next year, and as members of the various market categories gathered and collaborated in each of the show's market-centric zones.
For example, second-time exhibitor I/O Bio Merino echoed the show director's enthusiasm after three full days of back-to-back appointments, lines in and around the booth, and at times, turning interested retailers away until less busy timeslots became available.
"This Summer Market was definitely a breakout show for us," said Tim Kelley, director of sales and marketing for I/O Bio Merino. "The traffic in our booth and interest in the product, even after going with a larger booth, was overwhelming. It was the most successful show we could have hoped for."
The enthusiasm was not limited to younger brands and first-time exhibitors. Long-time outdoor recreation brand Columbia Sportswear Company received a warm welcome from the industry as it returned to the main floor exhibition area.
"OR provided a great venue for Columbia Sportswear to engage with specialty retailers from around the world and to showcase our new technologies that address the needs of their outdoor consumers," said Mick McCormick, executive vice president of global sales and marketing for Columbia Sportswear. "Columbia's return to the main floor at OR was symbolic of our commitment to lead the industry through this difficult macro-economic period using our strong outdoor brand, our strong balance sheet and our ground-breaking product innovation. We look forward to participating in future summer and winter OR shows."
In addition to serving the needs of exhibiting manufacturers, Outdoor Retailer continued to ramp up the features and programs at the show to bring even more value to attendees.
"There is always plenty to be gained from attending the OR show," said Ed McAlister, owner of River Sports Outfitters. "Seeing manufacturers' complete product mix, the networking within the various market zones and the seminars—you would never get all that at a regional show."
Various retailers used the show as an opportunity to further train employees and infuse enthusiasm for the many new and already carried brands.
"Outdoor Retailer continued to be business as usual for our buying staff this year," said Steve Hyer, co-owner of The Alpine Experience. "However, we did make the financial commitment to bring many of our younger staff members with us to the Demo and the Expo. This leap is important to our long term employee training and our overall business strategy."
This year's Outdoor Retailer Summer Market was unique in that the show was 16 days earlier, and was shortened from a six day show to a five day show with one day of product testing on the trails and water at Open Air Demo, and four full days of business meetings and seminars during the Summer Market Expo.
Outdoor Retailer did see a dip in overall attendance, which was expected with such a deep economic recession. Still, more than 18,000 overall attendees (roughly 5,000 buyers) came to the show, and a vast majority of the retail buying power was represented.
"It is virtually impossible to compare the world in the summer of 2009 to any other past years, the whole world, including the outdoor industry, has gone through a great deal of economic change and upheaval," said Joe Flynn, group vice president for the Nielsen Sports Group. "This being said, I am thrilled that the overwhelming feedback from our retailers and exhibitors is that ORSM 2009 was a huge success and demonstrated the strong backbone of our industry. We received nothing but positive input about the strength of the buying power at our show."
The next opportunity to preview the future of the outdoor industry will start at the All Mountain Demo at the Snowbasin Ski Resort January 20, 2010 followed by the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, January 21-24, 2010 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City.
The next Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, will begin with Open Air Demo to be held at Pineview Reservoir on Wednesday July 21, 2010, followed by the indoor portion of the show at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, July 22-25.