The Big Gear Show is still on—with some changes

Show director Kenji Haroutunian says the show has not been cancelled.
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The inaugural run of the new hardgoods trade show in Salt Lake City is still on, organizers say.

Just a few days after Outdoor Retailer announced that this year's Summer Market was off, organizers of the next major event on the industry's calendar, The Big Gear Show, have gone a different route.

Event director Kenji Haroutunian told SNEWS late Monday that the first three days of the BGS, which consist of a hardgoods demo day and a B2B trade show, will run as scheduled from July 22-24 in Salt Lake City. The fourth day, a consumer expo, is currently under review and may potentially run as scheduled, though show organizers have not come to a final decision.

"We believe that late July will be in the clear for public gathering again, as long as we make some modifications," Haroutunian said. "Making firm decisions or announcements is the last thing we should be doing right now, but we also don’t want to be completely silent."

According to Haroutunian, the show will be different than any his team has produced before. Modifications will incorporate the rules of social distancing with "digital or hybrid options" to replace some large group gatherings. Aside from safety and public health, Haroutunian says the show's focus is, first and foremost, to bring people together.

"The goal is no longer to facilitate hardgoods buying as much as it is to gather the industry together to talk about how to survive and thrive in this suddenly new world," he told SNEWS. "We have gotten feedback that people are in favor of that goal. Even in the past week we’ve been booking booths for the show. This situation is definitely a challenge, but we have been through challenges before as an industry. We know that the industry is going to come back."

As for safety, Haroutunian is confident that the show can proceed in a way that doesn't endanger public health. Citing "predicted patterns by the healthcare industry, both inside and outside of government," he believes that the peak of the pandemic will pass before the July show date.

"We need to be mindful of assuming it’s over when it really isn't," he said. "We still need to have social distancing. But we’re in a position where the danger of a second wave likely isn’t going to happen in July. By every measure, July is a very different scenario than even May or June."

Show organizers are not yet clear about what the event's specific modifications will look like. According to Haroutunian, meetings to decide the details are currently ongoing. Thus far, the show has 300 registered retailers and roughly 100 committed or contracted exhibitors.

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