Outdoor Retailer returns to Salt Lake City, but is it ‘dead on arrival’?
The show made changes to confront a loss of attendees due to changes to the retail landscape and boycotts of Utah’s land-use policies.
Strike up the band, fire up the pep rally. It’s homecoming for the Outdoor Retailer trade show, which is returning to Salt Lake City — its home for 20 years — this week after spending the past five years in Denver. To celebrate, show organizers are leaning into the theme by inviting the public to their version of the homecoming dance in front of the Salt Palace Convention Center on Tuesday, complete with a royal court and DJ, plus a beer garden and appearances by Olympic athletes.
“The community is so welcoming, it’s been really easy for us to kind of transition back,” said Marisa Nicholson, OR’s senior vice president and show director. “It just feels like you’re kind of coming home.”
As with anyone returning from a sojourn, though, Outdoor Retailer isn’t the same as it was when it left. It’s smaller, but perhaps also more diverse. It’s incorporating more interaction with the community and more forums. Perhaps most notably, it’s not as steadfast about its views on some of Utah’s land use and environmental policies, which contributed to its departure and haven’t budged in the interim.
Some say the show has changed for the better. Others say it’s for the worse.
In that latter camp are about 30 major companies that are boycotting the show’s return to Utah.