There was a buzz at this year's Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, held Aug. 8-11 in Salt Lake City, not heard in quite some time -- and we're not just talking about the bees at the En-R-G Foods booth. Though folks were admittedly quite nervous heading into the show, attendees were surprisingly upbeat.
Two retailers, walking down the show aisles together, turned when asked how business was by the SNEWS® team and simultaneously quipped, "It's great! We're flat."
The softer market resulted in a significant drop in attendance from 18,792 in 2001 to 16,848 in 2002. The total number of retail stores dipped from 3,284 in 2001 to 2,900 in 2002. Total retail attendance dropped from 6,261 in 2001 to 5,281. But numbers don't really tell the story.
Everywhere the SNEWS® team turned, there were smiles, laughter, full booths, paper flying, and a passion and excitement we've not witnessed since, well, since the infamous tornado. Perhaps tough times bring out the goodwill in us all.
Peter Metcalf of Black Diamond, Mike Valvano of MountainSmith, Jim Clark of WaterMark, Casey Sheahan of Kelty and many other execs told SNEWS® that this was turning out to be one of the best shows in recent memory. While it was true retailer attendance was down, appointments were booked solid and the retailers who were at the show were serious about writing orders, and that's all good.
Over the next week, the SNEWS® team will be filling our pages with Bytes and feature stories highlighting all the major stories, market trends, and cool new products the SNEWS® team ferreted out while at OR. We start with a peek this week at the climbing/mountaineering market through the eyes of our new SNEWS® contributing editor, Clyde Soles.