SALT LAKE CITY, UT (BRAIN)—A solid All Mountain Demo yesterday may point toward a strong Outdoor Retailer Winter Market floor show, which opens this morning, show director Kenji Haroutunian said.
“I would say that attendance was pretty solid. I don’t know if it was up, down or sideways. But I saw a lot of gear going out, and I saw a lot of exhibitors without gear,” Haroutunian said of the demo at the Snowbasin Ski Resort.
Show organizers worked hard to be more inclusive this year of all aspects of the snowsports market, not just the backcountry segment.
“We didn’t want it to be just about the hard-charging, avi-dodging core. We wanted to do more than just talk to ourselves,” Haroutunian said. “We’re not into alienating people. We’re into welcoming people.”
Significantly absent from the demo were Nordic brands Fischer and Madshus. But also significantly, Columbia Sportswear and The North Face were first-time exhibitors at the demo, beefing up on-mountain representation from apparel companies.
Columbia’s Tim Anderson said the demo made sense for the company, which last year showed only its Sorel footwear brand. Columbia is rolling out a new aluminum-based insulation, called Omni-Heat, throughout its line, from jackets to footwear to accessories, and the demo was an opportunity to show it off.
“We want people to grab a jacket and go skiing in it,” Anderson said.
The North Face’s Austin Robbs was also encouraging retailers to try out jackets from the company’s Cryptic line. But Robbs, a sales rep based in Denver, said logistics made apparel demos difficult.
“It’s tough to get people to try on a jacket, because people come with one,” Robbs noted. Swapping out lift tickets is also a problem.
The biggest energy at the demo and at retail continued to be in the AT category, especially boots. Manufacturers came to the demo trying to outdo each other over who could make the lightest alpine touring performance boot.
Traditional backcountry brands like Dynafit, Garmont, Scarpa and Black Diamond all displayed new boots that were lighter than before and featured improved downhill performance to go with the boots’ touring capabilities.
Haroutunian and the show staff now are looking ahead to the floor show, which opens at 9 a.m.
Early indications are strong, he said, as retailers begin to relax a bit as outdoor sales begin to pick up. “Last year at this time they were staring into a black hole,” he said.
Although the total number of companies exhibiting at Winter Market will be down by about 2 percent, Haroutunian said attendance numbers are tracking higher than last year.
“Hotel room registrations and pre-registrations are strong,” he said. “Either exhibitors are bringing more people here, which is not something I see as a trend, or retailers are sending more buyers and other people here. This could be a really strong show.”
For coverage of the Outdoor Retailer show produced by the Bicycle Retailer staff, click on link.