Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2007 buzzing with energy and a good vibe

Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2007 continued the theme of positive vibe and energy begun earlier in the year at Winter Market, as most of the retailers, exhibitors and reps our team encountered sported wide-brimmed smiles and upbeat attitudes.
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Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2007 continued the theme of positive vibe and energy begun earlier in the year at Winter Market, as most of the retailers, exhibitors and reps our team encountered sported wide-brimmed smiles and upbeat attitudes.

No, not everything was perfect, and never is at any trade show, with this year marking the second year of an expanded Summer Market under one roof with just about every square inch of exhibit hall space (everything short of bathroom stalls were fair game it appeared) bursting with booths – though not necessarily traffic.

While the main floor was constantly bustling with buzz and traffic, those languishing in off-the-beaten-path booth locations were not exactly brimming with happiness, though we did experience many exhibitors in these locations hanging out with the requisite level of humor still in tact. "The only retailers I've seen in two days are lost, and just stopping by to ask how to get somewhere else," one exhibitor told us with a wry smile. Another told us that while he had seen a few retailers, some completely by mistake who were lost but ended up staying for a presentation, the meetings had been good with the potential for actual orders and new business.

Traffic flow seemed to have improved dramatically (in the humble opinion of SNEWS®), and map location markers and destination arrows adhered to the carpets in main traffic aisles (numerous folks standing right on top of them had no idea they were there however), but many people still got lost. Improved mapping, signage and finding ways to direct traffic into the out-of-the-way corners are issues that Outdoor Retailer management has indicated they are going to aggressively address for future shows, because Summer Market isn't getting any smaller.

Total attendance (and keep in mind these are preliminary numbers that have not been audited) was basically flat, with 21,754 reported compared with 21,711 in 2006 (the audited number in 2006 lowered this number to 20,439). The number of buyers was reported at 6,427, up slightly from 6,143 in 2006. Store numbers, however dipped slightly, from 2,529 in 2006 to 2,478 in 2007. This could be indicative of increasing consolidation, as well as more retail owners simply deciding to come only on alternate years if at all – SNEWS® has long held that if you miss the national show, you are doing your business a disservice. Media attendance, which did not have the impetus to come with a headliner like Interior Secretary Dick Kempthorne's attendance in 2006, dropped significantly from 461 in 2006 to 391 in 2007.

The number of exhibiting companies jumped dramatically, however, up to 1,052 from 967 in 2006. Not surprisingly, exhibit space jumped up too, coming in at a whopping 420,325 in 2007 compared to 400,200 in 2006.

Over the next few weeks, and beginning with climbing and footwear coverage this week (our reports on the Open Air Demo and the BOB Awards ran last week), the SNEWS® team will be bringing you the most complete and in-depth coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2007, from parties to special events to press conferences to product trends, as well as coverage of the whispers heard in the aisles and corners of booths. Our trade show coverage begins now, with a few quick peeks to whet your appetite.

Off the beaten path: Who knew you didn't have to go halfway around the world to partake of authentic Nepalese food—you could just wander to the edge of Salt Lake City's downtown. Open for the last two years, the Himalayan Kitchen has become a draw for show attendees clamoring for the Nepali dishes with an undercurrent of Indian influence -- tandoori, tikka masala, curries, kurma and momos. Mmmm… It's not unheard of to rub elbows in the "waiting area" outside the restaurant's door (i.e., the sidewalk) with the likes of mountaineer Conrad Anker, Patagonia Ambassador Beth Livingston or Medicines Global's Janice Belson. (Anker and his wife, Jennifer, even had a three-man contingent of visiting Sherpas from the Khumbu Climbing School with them.) The owners -- one of which is a paragliding pioneer in his home country -- are happy to chat with visitors about the food and their homeland.

Party saturation: Breaking away from the party pack, Horny Toad hosted its annual live music fest on the third night of Summer Market at Café Molise, featuring two rising indie musical talents -- The White Buffalo and The Elevaters. In its eighth year, it was wisely timed toward the end of the show as a few diehard Toads have been known to breakfast at Café Molise the next morning.

Easy to slip in when the doors opened at 8 p.m., the crowd started to get more hip-grindingly close as nearly 700 people (retailers and manufacturers alike) flowed in, realizing this was one of the few rabble-rousing events of the night. (Drinks were free -- as long as you ordered beer, wine or a margarita. Anything else and you were on your own dime.)

Walking in, partygoers were initially greeted by the sounds of The White Buffalo, its three members jamming acoustic rock style. Later in the night, The Elevaters sextet kicked it up a notch with a style blending funk, rock, soul, and urban-alternative music that got the crowd dancin' and sweatin' in the evening heat.

Horny Toad's Tami Snow told SNEWS®, "Toads like to have fun and like to bring fun gatherings with good music to our industry and our friends. And, it is a good way to help support and share some of our favorite, up-and-coming artists."

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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 ...read more