SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, CA (BRAIN)—It was a banner year for the recent Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, as the show saw increases in every measurable category including exhibitor booth space, exhibiting brands, retailers and overall attendance. Most categories posted double-digit growth.
"The energy at this show was tremendous and it rebooted everything for me as I head back to my store," said Shelley O'Neill, store manager at Tooth of Time Traders in Cimarron, New Mexico (SNEWS Retailer of the Year award-winner). "Talking with the manufacturers I work with, their business results are up. Our sales are up. People are excited."
There was an increased emphasis on cycling at Summer Market 2011, giving attendees multiple options to get on two wheels during the show. A new Paddle/Pedal Challenge time-trial event at OAD, OR Bike Share—a free bike parking and rental program for show attendees—and a show presence by the International Mountain Bicycling Association and People for Bikes gave the outdoor industry unprecedented access to cycling brands and organizations.
"I think this is the best show I've been to," said Norm Cavallaro, whose Connecticut-based North Cove Outfitters was the 2009 overall Retailer of the Year winner. "It's very crowded and people are upbeat and smiling. You have to come to this show to see the industry, support the industry, and to see what's coming for the future."
The high number of retailers and positive atmosphere left exhibitors feeling optimistic about the continued growth of their brands and the industry in general.
"The show has been amazing for us; it's been very successful from a retailer perspective as well as what I do with PR. The show does an amazing job bringing in all the right editors to talk to about our products, and our booth was wall-to-wall the whole time," said Jaime Eschette, strategic outreach manager at Teva. "There really is no other show that we can go to that encapsulates the vibe of the outdoor space like OR."
Summer Market 2011 also featured the first-ever New Exhibitor Pavilion, a 53,300-square foot space adjacent to the Salt Palace Convention Center that housed 165 brands new to OR.
"You see a lot of interesting and new products here and there's definitely an energy, a buzz, going around," said Jeremy Russell, spokesman for G-Form, which had booth space in the New Exhibitor Pavilion. "Pretty much every buyer we saw was stoked on seeing new products and feeding off that energy from booth to booth because (exhibitors) are trying to sell something people have never seen before."
Close to 2,000 attendees paddled, ran and rode at Jordanelle State Park to test the latest gear at Open Air Demo on August 3. The record number of attendees and exhibitors (153 exhibitors, an increase of more than 50 over ORSM 2010) made the 2011 OAD the largest demo event in the history of the show.
"The outdoor industry has been resilient during recession times, and that dynamic, combined with the popularity of the active outdoor lifestyle, has fueled even higher interest in Outdoor," said Kenji Haroutunian, Outdoor Retailer show director. "The technology, innovation and youthful energy evident at the show is exactly what businesses want to be a part of."
Outdoor Retailer Summer Market will return to the Salt Palace Convention Center, in Salt Lake City, August 2-5, 2012.