Outdoor Retailer Summer Market celebrated its 25th anniversary in style, with special celebrations, events, and overall, a genuinely positive vibe that emanated from the show floor during all four days, Aug. 10-13 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
This year’s Summer Market attendees were among the first to walk the halls of the newly expanded Salt Palace, which wowed many. Not all, though, seemed wowed, as was noted when our team overheard two men conversing during the second day of set-up while standing in the new section of the convention center.
“They really have made some changes in this part of the building," one man knowingly said to the other. Well, like the fact you are standing in a new building would be the most obvious change, don't you think? We’re just hoping neither of them were journalists.
Total attendance (and keep in mind these are preliminary numbers that have not been audited) was 21,711, up from 19,348 in 2005. The number of buyers was reported at 6,095, up slightly from 6,006 in 2005. How many stores this represented is not known as show organizers confirmed to SNEWS® the data still needed to have duplicate entries removed before accurate numbers could be reported. The number of exhibiting companies was 967, up from 926 in 2004. Media attendance, thanks in large part to Interior Secretary Dick Kempthorne's attendance for an Outdoor Industry Association press conference on Aug. 11, showed the most significant increase, with 461 media in attendance compared to 367 in 2005. Most of that increase we suspect only attended that one event.
The most significant change for Summer Market, though, was the exhibit space. This marked the first Summer Market in Salt Lake City where all exhibitors were housed under one roof – no Pavilions aka "tents." Exhibit space square footage increased to 400,200 feet from 352,178 (including Pavilions) in 2005.
Knowing you expect us to cover Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in more depth than any other publication or online information resource, the SNEWS® team decided to up the ante by producing 16 live podcasts from the trade show floor. Many of those reports are now live on our site and can be listened to or -- in the case of the now infamous OIWC Ramp It Up event – viewed by going to www.snewsnet.com/podcasts.
Over the next month, in addition to posting the remaining podcasts, the SNEWS® team will be bringing you complete print coverage of the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006, 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.
Walking through time
To celebrate 25 years of Summer Market, Outdoor Retailer and National Geographic Adventure turned to SNEWS® managing editor Wendy Geister, SNEWS® merchandising editor Sharon Leicham, and SNEWS® art director John Davidson who worked unbelievable hours to create a multi-media retrospective to honor historical outdoor industry events, figures and the evolution of outdoor gear. For those who managed to make the trek into the upper deck of the new section way in the back, you witnessed something truly special that was museum quality in its presentation. Unfortunately, Outdoor Retailer did a less than spectacular job of promoting the Retro Walk and directing show attendees to its remote location, meaning there were far more show attendees who missed out than tuned in. Though the exhibit was dismantled at the end of the show, we're hoping Outdoor Retailer manages to recreate the walk, at least with the billboards and story plaques, for Winter Market, so it can be enjoyed by more than the handful who walked through in August. Placing it in a more central location (needing bread crumbs to get there should be avoided) would also be grand.
What's the best part of the new section in the Salt Palace?
There are places where one can get a birds-eye view of the show floor, which is useful when trying to navigate the newly designed maze. One attendee told us, "You can climb above the show floor on the north side and figure out where you were supposed to be 10 minutes ago." However this only works if you know the super secret passage way to the 2nd floor. Being naturally investigative sorts, we managed to learn this trick on day 1. (Pssst, it's behind section G where it intersected with E, near the Retail Lounge.)
Outdoor Retailer show management has told us future shows will provide letters along with booth numbers. At least with that it will be that much easier to know that the booth you are trying to reach exists on the other side of a wall that has managed to appear in the middle of the aisle you are trying to walk while following what should be consecutive numbers to find your next appointment. We watched a number of attendees in a hurry nearly pile up like Keystone Cops as they encountered a wall between them and the goal – seriously.
David Breashears gives moving presentation at W.L. Gore breakfast
Mountaineer and filmmaker David Breashears said he was 11 years old when he first dreamed of climbing mountains. Breashears, who spoke at the W.L. Gore breakfast on Aug. 11 during Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, described the moment he saw his first climbing book, which included a picture of Tenzing Norgay standing atop Everest. As the lights of the Marriott hotel ballroom went dim, Breashears projected that very image of Norgay onto a screen and said, "He looked like a guy who worked hard to get somewhere and was exactly where he wanted to be."
That description also seems to fit Breashears, who has lived a life of adventure, building a climbing resume that includes several summits of Everest. He was the first American man to reach the summit of that mountain twice, and he has climbed Ama Dablam (22,494 feet). He has also built a successful career as a filmmaker; with his most noted achievement being the highly acclaimed 1996 "Everest" IMAX film. Hearing Breashears speak, it appeared that at this point in his life, he has become like the man in the photo that inspired him—exactly where he wants to be. But at one point during his breakfast talk, while describing the deaths of several climbers on Everest in 1996, he still seemed emotionally shaken by those events. His voice broke and his laser jittered across the screen as he pointed to a picture of the mountain and explained how the series of deaths unfolded. The forks quit clanking on plates, and the whole room fell very quiet.
Breashears concluded his presentation by showing a few minutes of a new documentary film he's been working on concerning the '96 tragedy on Everest. Without revealing the details of the film (since Breashears specifically asked us not to), we can say that the footage was both dramatic and stirring.