Updated: Report and Photos from Outdoor Retailer Summer

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional photos in our slide show and more retailer quotes.

Outdoor Retailer and Outdoor Design + Innovation got underway Monday in Salt Lake City, Utah, with a decidedly more upbeat atmosphere than the last show in November.

Outdoor Retailer has made several significant changes to boost attendance and build back the show, most notably an extensive hosted buyer program and dedicated buyer-only hours for the first two hours of the show each day.

Several brands we talked to noticed the focused attention from buyers at the show, especially in the morning hours.

Brian Sanders, vice president of sales at beach towel company Sand Cloud, had already opened three new accounts in the first hour of the show Monday.

“Our goal is to open 15 to 20 new accounts at the show, so getting three in the first hour is great,” he said.

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Alyssa Perk, a buyer from Alpinistas, looking at towels at the Sand Cloud booth. Photo by The Daily.

Ramiro Gomez, co-founder of bag company Alpaka, was also happy with the morning’s dedicated buying hours.

“We’ve been busy already,” he said at 10 a.m. on Monday. “Last time, it was mostly marketers coming into the booth.”

At outdoor equipment company Teton, which had a large, well-designed booth at the show, Senior Account Manager Rosie Bauman said in the afternoon that she was exhausted after nonstop meetings most of the day.

“It’s been a really busy show – much more than we expected,” Bauman said. “It’s a bit smaller of a show than we are used to from previous years before the pandemic, obviously. But I haven’t sat down all day. I mostly met with buyers, but even my marketing team has been slammed.”

The stores she had met with included small independents, big chains like Costco, and international distributors, which Bauman was especially excited about because international growth is big push for Teton this year.

“It’s definitely been worth it to be at the show,” she said.

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Teton is expanding into adventure travel bags, which received a lot of attention at the show. Photo by The Daily.

 

Buyers on the Hunt for New Brands

Several buyers we talked to also noticed the improved environment from the last few shows, including Adrienne Michel of Prospector Outfitter in Alaska.

“It definitely feels better than November and last summer,” Michel said. “Brands are putting more effort and energy into their booths, and there’s a better selection of brands. People seem excited to be here. You can hear more chatter on the floor.”

Michel and her fellow buyers from Prospector Outfitter had just visited colorful sunglass brand Goodr, which definitely had one of the busiest and most energetic booths at the show. The brand had reached out to the Prospector buying team before the show, and Prospector plans to bring Goodr in – which is a good idea. One well-known industry retailer told The Daily that Goodr essentially “prints money” for retailers because it sells so well.

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Buyers Chris Moulton, Danielle Thomas, and Adrienne Michel of Prospector Outfitter in Alaska. Photo by The Daily.

The Daily saw a steady stream of buyers in the Goodr booth all day long, including from retailers such as Lands’ End.

In addition to picking up Goodr, Prospector buyers had thus far found a new folding grill from BBQ Croc, kids shoes from Jan & Jul, and a new e-bike company.

DeLana Forsberg of Piragis Northwoods Company in Ely, Minnesota, was also on the hunt for new brands.

“I like that I don’t have to have appointments, and I can just shop and find newer stuff,” she said. So far on Monday, she had found giftable camping cutlery, plates and cups from Black + Blum, art prints and apparel from Final Switchback, reflective dog leashes and collars from LupinePet, and tick repellent gear from Hyker.

However, she found more interesting brands and products at OR last summer, she said.

And after attending GOA, regional shows, and now OR, what she really wishes for is one big show again where she can see her “bread and butter” existing big brands and new brands all under one roof.

“The trade show situation is really hard for buyers these days,” she said.

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Buyers Brian Mildenstein of Fin & Feather in Iowa and DeLana Forsberg of Piragis Northwoods Outfitting in Minnesota were on the hunt for new brands and products. Photo by The Daily.

At the special breakfast for buyers before the show started, buyers from Yosemite National Park said they were impressed by the large selection of camping lounge chairs at the right price point for their market, as well as the portable air pump and ice machines for campers.

“It’s amazing to see what’s available, but we have to make sure it fits with the right price points,” said Courtney Breitenbucher, a retail manager for Yosemite.

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Colin True and Justin Housman of the popular Rock Fight podcast. Photo by The Daily.

Some pockets of the show floor were quieter than others as well, with some brands, such as Black + Blum, saying Monday afternoon that buyer traffic had been slower where their booth is located.

High-profile industry retailer and industry observer Wes Allen of Sunlight Sports in Wyoming told The Daily that he was pleasantly surprised by the energy on the show floor.

“It was much better than the last time that I was at OR,” he said. “I did find a couple of brands that I wrote orders with because I saw them there – notably Giant Mouse, Final Switchback, and Brant & Cochran.”

He does wish, however, that the show was held in July instead of June.

“It is very difficult to make it here as an independent (retailer) because we have just been seeing lines for the last several weeks, and it doesn’t make sense for many people to spend another week on the road right now because we have orders to write with our big brands,” said Allen, who also saw many buyers from big box chains at the show.

Allen shares a sentiment we heard from others. If people come into the show thinking the new version of Outdoor Retailer will be like the OR of old, they will be disappointed. But if people don’t judge it by the past, but on its current merits, he would view this show as a success and sees a lot potential upside for future shows, especially if the dates moved to July.

Energy Returns to Show Floor

The energy on the show floor that Allen talked about came from many factors, including brands like Sun Bum, which put a lot of effort into their booth.

With a DJ playing tunes all day and a prime location on the show floor, Sun Bum said they were happy with the buyer turnout on the first day.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the caliber of the buyers – especially in the morning,” said Bryan Wiertzema, director of sales for specialty and majors for the sunscreen and skincare company. Urban Outfitters stopped by, as did new accounts from Hawaii, Idaho, and other states.

While Wiertzema wasn’t thrilled about the people coming into the booth in the afternoon to make marketing pitches, the increased retailer presence made it worthwhile to come to the show, he said.

“It’s made me excited for winter,” Wiertzema said. “We will definitely come back.”

Dan Sciandra of Indiana workwear brand Berne Apparel agreed that there were too many service providers marketing their services through the afternoon.

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Berne Apparel’s Dan Sciandra and Nick Rodriquez. Photo by The Daily.

But Sciandra said buyers are responding well to the brand’s evolution, which is moving beyond workwear and into lifestyle with its durable textiles and rugged designs.

“Workwear is a hot commodity these days,” Sciandra said. “It’s on trend. There’s a confluence between what was traditional workwear with athleisure – they’re sort of merging a bit – as well as streetwear.”

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Seniq’s Valentina Thompson and Madison Poitinger are targeting modern outdoor women with functional apparel with tailoring details and bold colors. Photo by The Daily.

Valentina Thompson and Madison Poitinger, the co-founders of Seniq, which is currently selling online-only, came to Outdoor Retailer to meet with potential buyers to start building their wholesale business.

So far, they said buyers were responding well to their designs, which combine functionality and tailoring, as well as to their brand philosophy, which emphasizes the mental health benefits of being outside.

“It’s the best way to get a mental reset – that’s the other aspect of Seniq, is using the outdoors for mental health,” Poitinger said.

“It’s our form of therapy,” added Thompson.

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Andrew Gibbs-Dabney started Livsn Designs with two Kickstarter campaigns, and this year completed his first round of financing to continue growing the brand’s minimalist line of apparel. Photo by The Daily.

Andrew Gibbs-Dabney of Arkansas-based Livsn Designs said he brought his whole team to Outdoor Retailer Summer for the networking possibilities – something he wishes there was more emphasis on at the show as a whole.

“We brought our whole team because there’s networking for sourcing, too,” Gibbs-Dabney told The Daily. “We didn’t come here specifically with the goal to find retailers.”

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Brian Davidson said Nikwax’s partnership with Outdoor Research launches in the fall with a line of raincoats that come pre-treated with its waterproofing treatment. Photo by The Daily.

Brian Davidson of UK-based waterproofing and cleaning treatment company Nikwax said the company is already well-established, and was at the show to show off its first brand partnership with Outdoor Research.

Outdoor Research will launch its first line of raincoats that come pre-treated with Nikwax this fall.

“We’re also talking with 10 or 15 other brands to develop similar partnerships, but we’re going to let them announce when they want to do it,” Davidson said. “It’s quite an accelerating part of our business.”

Shopify Throws Big Industry Party

The first day of the show ended with a Shopify party at the Hyatt Regency with free food and drinks – always a popular draw for the post-show outdoor industry crowd.

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The Shopify Industry Party, which included free food and drinks, was a hit on the first night of the show. Photo courtesy of Outdoor Retailer.

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The Shopify Industry Party. Photo courtesy of Outdoor Retailer.

See more photos from the show floor in our slide show, below.

Pieter-Jan Hoon and Anri Loots came all the way from South Africa to look for new products to stock Cape Union Mart International.

Nichole Nemmers, Paula Millar, Bryan Wiertzema and Matt Hampton of Sun Bum

Ramiro Gomez, Jessica Draper, and Kaihl Fransen of Alpaka

Goodr even brought the energy to the Shopify Industry Party with their pink suits – Hanssie Ho, Lexi Rousselle and Greg Weissel

The busy Grand Trunk booth

Billy Holzhauser, Nessa Hooper and Hayley Taylor of Westfield Outdoors

Kayla Coscino of Florence, Mauricio Sepulveda of Mexican retailer KMA, and Pat O’Connell of Florence reviewing Florence boardshorts.

Jeff Hurley and Ryan Hurley of surf brand Florence, which is expanding into the outdoor market.

Arlo Rumpff and Anya Mayo of Slow Loris showed off their colorful, ultra-soft T-shirts on the trade show floor.

The Stansport team meeting with buyers from Walmart.

Buyers liked Black + Blum’s giftable camping cutlery and plate set.

Nick Cornwell of Black + Blum

Jordon Cook and Jacob Heller of Westfield Outdoors

Wes Allen’s “Retail Math 101” well-attended talk was designed to help brands understand how to work well with buyers and stores owners.

Lisa Schenck, Linda Leuthe, Gabriella Dunlap, and Brian Sanders of Sand Cloud

Julie Maden and David Enslow of Coast at the Media Preview event on Sunday night.

Sarah Alley and Alyssa Perk of retailer Alpinistas.

Circana’s Matthew Tucker delivered a talk about outdoor retail trends to a packed audience at The Camp.

Team OR: David Deaton, Steve LaRoche, Amy Dufour, Sarah Morton, and Sean Smith

Outdoor writer Cameron Martindell.

Annie Dwyer of Skratch Labs with the company’s sugar-free hydration solutions.

The busy state of Arkansas booth.

Scott Mears and Keith Podo of Dunham’s Sports in Troy, Michigan at the Buyer Breakfast on June 18.

The Retailer Reality Check panel discussion featured Holly Fussell of Water Stone Outdoors, Jordan Lauterstein of Good Sports Outdoor Outfitters and Joe Power of Sportsman & Ski Haus.

Giant Mouse teased its new kitchen line at the Outdoor Retailer Summer media preview with plans to unveil its full line at the show.

Bobby Argawal educated the audience about the power of TikTok Shop, the social media company’s e-commerce platform.

Brycen Cross and Claire Cross plan to open their Base Camp Outdoors store in Dayton, Ohio this fall.

Maria Fernanda Gonzalez Diez Garcia of Costco Mexico

Virginia Sodo of jewelry brand Salty Cali.

Earthpack owner Dave Bock, left, meeting with a retailer at the show.

Coolibar’s Elijah Bogdansky, Adriana Essenfeld, Stacy Edwards and Alan Kritzler said they were thrilled they booked a last-minute trip to Outdoor Retailer Summer.

Cy Lindberg, Bridget Miller and Chelsey Ward of Liberty Mountain said there was no shortage of engagement at their booth at this week’s Outdoor Retailer Summer.

Marie-Elaine Lemire, Lindsay Hubley, and David Doft of Emerald, the parent company of Outdoor Retailer.

Brandon Kirk just launched his new brand Terrestrial, which uses hemp to create light, sustainable camping gear.

There was fierce competition at Elastic Suite’s Pickleball Palooza on the show floor.

Tick Mitt’s Olivia Abrams and Steve Abrams demonstrated their reusable product for tick removal on the trade show floor.

This device from Heat It, which plugs into a phone to heat up, then takes away itching when applied to bug bites, was a hit at the Media Preview.

Compo Closet’s Erica Pugh brought the brand’s compostable toilet design that’s perfect for van explorers.

Cozy Zero’s Eva Xu said buyers were excited to learn about her brand’s seamless merino activewear.

Spyderco’s Lindsay Connolly and Franchesca Guerra said they had a busy week at this year’s Outdoor Retailer Summer.

Brandon Scott of Maine Outdoor Brands takes the outdoor swing by Bijou Brands for a spin.

 

 

 

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