Effective August 15, 2002, Outdoor Retailer magazine is shutting down publication of its monthly magazine. The VNU-mandated decision effectively ends a publishing run that began in 1981 and ended up launching Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.
Marc Sani remains with VNU as the publisher of Bicycle Retailer. All other magazine staff are being offered severance or other positions within the company SNEWS® has been told.
Lack of industry support and interest is being cited as the reason for shutting Outdoor Retailer magazine down.
According to David Loechner, group president of Sports & Merchandise, VNU Expositions, "The majority of the leading players in this industry were not participating in the magazine and it became very clear to us that either we were not putting out the right product or the market simply was not interested in the product we were producing."
"Most manufacturers are involved with us around the trade show environment because this is a very hands-on and face-to-face industry, and our trade shows provide that," added Loechner.
Outdoor Retailer expositions will continue to produce the Daily Exposure, the product guides and the show handbooks Loechner told SNEWS®.
It is also possible that the industry may hear from Outdoor Retailer magazine again, only this time as an electronic version.
"VNU Expositions is currently exploring reformatting Outdoor Retailer magazine as an electronic newsletter. We believe that Outdoor Retailer will remain an important brand leader now directly tied to the marketplace under Exposition's management," said Mark Holdreith, president, Retail Group, VNU Business Publications, in an email to staff on Friday.
Mark Sullivan, publisher of Sporting Goods Business, also a VNU property, told SNEWS® that SGB would be rolling out a new outdoor trade magazine at Summer Market.
"Beginning in the fourth quarter of this year, SGB will introduce Outdoor Business, a new magazine targeting the outdoor specialty retail business," said Sullivan. "The magazine will be published at key times of the year and will cover outdoor equipment, footwear, apparel, as well as the business of retailing."
SNEWS® View: For SNEWS®, now the only remaining source of news and information for the outdoor industry, and the only independent voice still for both the outdoor and fitness industries, this marks a sad day. Michael Hodgson, our co-publisher, spent nearly 10 years writing as a freelancer and then as a staff editor with Outdoor Retailer and, along with Wendy Geister, the magazine's current managing editor, and Joan Alvarez, the magazine's former editor-in-chief, founded the successful Daily Exposure. A part of Hodgson's heart remained with OR. For much of it's reign, OR was considered THE magazine for information about the outdoor market, surviving attempted competition from Outside Business (an Outside magazine venture) in the 80's and then Outfitter magazine in the 90's. The last two years though have seen Outdoor Retailer slip rapidly from grace and off the radar of many as a key magazine to advertise in. Although our best estimates place the magazine's gross at somewhere around $1.5 million, advertising revenue has struggled, with many of the leading companies choosing in the last year to spend their money elsewhere. Costs have also remained high, in part because of OR's distribution strategy we'd imagine. The magazine claims 16,000 readers, including 10,000 outdoor specialty retailers. Say what!? Even conservative estimates would place the number of outdoor specialty retailers between only 3,500 and 4,000, with another 3,000 retailers dancing on the fringe. That's 7,000 by our math. Add in 1,200 as the number of manufacturers and a few miscellaneous subs and you're certainly not over 10,000. Couldn't OR have saved costs by slashing the distribution by 6,000 for starters? $1.5 million with lower costs would make many publishers happy right now. Of course, that brings us to the new venture by SGB. We've long been on record as believing VNU would eventually combine OR with SGB because that makes sense. However killing OR within one business unit and then spending the time and energy to launch a new entity for the same market in a different business unit has us wondering what VNU is thinking? IF the OR brand and franchise are as strong as VNU claims it to be, wouldn't it make more sense to simply give Outdoor Retailer magazine to Sullivan to then rework content and a new design with six time distribution? Either this is one of the most brilliant new publishing strategies on the planet or one of the most stupid….we're still trying to decide. As for continuing the OR legacy as an electronic newsletter, this is the same thing VNU said about Health and Fitness Business magazine when they shut that pub down last year. We're still awaiting that electronic venture. Could it be that there is simply no industry interest in advertising in an online magazine?