Marisa Nicholson, show director for Outdoor Retailer.

We’ve heard lots of chatter from Outdoor Retailer attendees wondering how to plan their show calendars. Most of the questions revolve around the November Winter Market and the January OR + Snow Show: How will they be different and how will they be the same? Show Director Marisa Nicholson has been eating, sleeping, and breathing these questions going as far back as 2015 when she began discussions with brand exhibitors, retail attendees, the Outdoor Industry Association, and Grassroots Outdoor Alliance about working to better align the show dates with the seasonal buying cycles. Nicholson explains it all.

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Give us the elevator pitch on each of your three Outdoor Retailer shows (ORSS, Summer Market, Winter Market).

Marisa Nicholson: We positioned Outdoor Retailer shows for efficiency—the best place to see the most brands and the most retailers in one place in the timeframes that made sense. Outdoor Retailer’s responsibility to the community is to create a platform for commercial success. That said, though, we don’t determine the dates, the marketplace does.

Outdoor Retailer Winter Market (November) is the launch for the winter outdoor season. Winter Market’s move to November is the first time Outdoor Retailer is at the beginning of the sales cycle. It’s about getting retailers in early to gather intel to make informed buying decisions, and to set the trend stories in motion for the media. It will be the global stage for innovation in outdoor.

Outdoor Retailer Snow Show (January) is the place to see product that influences the whole mountain experience. In addition to officially kicking off the snow sports sales season, you have the opportunity to wrap up any outstanding convos from the winter outdoor season. Plus, the On-Snow Demo connects attendees with best-in-class products in the environments they were meant to be used. What more could you ask for?

Outdoor Retailer Summer Market (July, moving to June in 2019) is where we check out buzzworthy products launching for the summer outdoor season. We love Summer Market because we can connect with like-minded brands and retailers, while our "Urban Adventures" Demo Experience, in downtown Denver for the first time, is an absolute must for media and retailers looking to get their hands on the newest in paddlesports, trail running, kayaking, climbing, camping, and overland. In June 2019, it moves to the beginning of the buying season like Winter Market.

A lot of people feel like you’ve added a new show to an already jam-packed calendar, but have you?

MN: We’ve always had three shows—two Outdoor Retailer shows and one SIA show—they were just packaged differently! When we acquired the Snow Show from SIA, we knew we'd have to go back to the drawing board and fine-tune a few things. We really appreciate your patience as we work through what is best for the entire community. After analyzing tons of data, surveys and feedback, we moved the shows to best accommodate seasonal buying patterns. We believe—and this idea is at the heart of every decision we’ve made—that the retailers need to see all the products, learn about all the trends, have all of the intel upfront before they make their buying decisions.

Be sure to pick up The Daily, the only official magazine of Outdoor Retailer.

What advice can you give to brands and retailers trying to juggle their budget and decide which two out of three shows to attend?

MN: Internally, we've been talking a lot about the word value from both a monetary and mission-based perspective. Is there value in changing the order of things and who will benefit most? Just like the outdoor community itself, we see Outdoor Retailer as part of an ecosystem based on a cycle of change, innovation, product development and buying. We are in this together and this ecosystem is only as strong as the community driving it. We all need to experience this new cycle, to live it. We know every retailer and every brand wants to reach their ultimate potential, and we're committed to partnering with the entire industry for the full cycle of your business.

Who should attend all three shows?

MN: We honestly feel each show offers something completely special and unique, yet still intertwined. Each point in this cycle is crucial to our industry's process. It starts with Winter Market in November; this is the launch of the winter outdoor season, it’s all about innovation and is the first time Outdoor Retailer is at the beginning of the sales cycle. But it also helps to close out summer.

Then, we move to January and the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show—the launch of the snow sports buying season. We moved it after Martin Luther King Jr. Day because that’s what the community asked for. It’s also the wrap up for winter outdoor.

And then there’s Summer Market! It’s everything summer, but it’s also an opportunity for winter-based businesses to diversify, or to have the conversations and to build the partnerships that weren’t possible in the busy winter window.

As we continue to add concrete value to each stage of the cycle, we promise you won't want to miss out on any crucial waypoint.

Hosting an event at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2018? Let us know here as soon as possible, so we can spread the word.

What did it take behind the scenes to make these significant date changes?

MN: We locked the entire team in a room for months and told them they couldn't leave until they figured it out. Just kidding...but not really. We actually spent hundreds of hours sifting through research, and analyzing feedback from phone and in-person interviews, web surveys, historical show data, and attendance patterns. Ironically enough, even with access to all this "information," the most influential component in our entire decision-making process were the honest, and sometimes challenging, conversations we were able to have with our community.

Our biggest takeaway from this whole exercise was confirmation that the outdoor industry is inspired by being part of something bigger and more profound than just the buying and selling of products.

Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show January 2018

Attendees gather at the picnic tables at The Ranger Station, an area dedicated to panels, demos, and other events.

What other questions are you hearing a lot of that we can attempt to address here?

MN: We know that change is difficult and that everyone has created their own ways of reaching the brands and retailers that matter most. Showrooms, fly-ins, store visits – all of these are important and have a place, but we heard loud and clear that retailers and brands are pressed for time, resources and energy. We repositioned the Outdoor Retailer shows for efficiency—the best place to see the most brands and the most retailers in one place in the timeframes that made sense. That is what we offer, and we are asking the industry to be open to these new ideas.

After 35 years of breaking down barriers and exploring this wild world together, we want you to know we see ourselves as part of your extended family and we prioritize your personal experiences, both on and off the show floor. We want you to achieve your commercial goals, and we want to empower you to connect meaningfully while encouraging accessibility, diversity and inclusivity.

I don’t know if we can say it enough, but we are listening and want to hear what the industry has to say. 


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