News that Burton Snowboards will exhibit at Outdoor Retailer for the first time at the upcoming Winter Market 2012 was met with a mixed response from the industry.
Some retailers and manufacturers said the move was a reflection of both the growing relevance of backcountry riding overall, and of a new influx of surf and snow action sports lifestyle companies such as Quiksilver and Billabong on the floor of the Salt Palace. Others thought it spoke to an ongoing give-and-take between the SIA Snow Show's and Outdoor Retailer’s more traditionally lift-served and leg-served markets, where companies have regularly added exhibiting at one show or the other in a search for new sales targets.
“I’m really glad to have another premiere Vermont company at Winter Market, obviously, but I do think there has always been and continues to be a synergy between the two shows and who exhibits,” said Darn Tough Vermont director of sales and marketing Mark Comcowich.
Snowboards aren’t a complete stranger to the Outdoor Retailer show floor, several brands, such as Voile, have featured the gear in their booths for years. And brands such as Jones Snowboards and K2, which has had a backcountry ski presence at the show for more than a decade, have used Outdoor Retailer as an avenue to introduce their splitboards for backcountry use.
“We're already there,” K2 spokesperson Ryan Hayter told SNEWS when asked how the news that Burton was coming to the show might affect that brand’s Outdoor Retailer presence. “The Panoramic split board was a big hit at the (2011) Winter OR Show along with K2's Backside ski and Backcountry Tools collections.”
Still, it’s hard to imagine any other snowsport brand making the decision to exhibit at Outdoor Retailer creating nearly as much interest. As Outdoor Retailer Show Director Kenji Haroutunian said in a statement, Burton will “benefit the show itself by attracting retailers from the youth and action sports side of the business.”
And although Burton officials declined to comment beyond an official release until specific members of the management team returned to the office, Burton chief creative officer Greg Dacyshyn did say in a statement, “We have a ton of incredible product that we think will really stand out in this arena.”
Doug Hutcheon, the ski buyer at The Trail Head in Missoula, Montana, said he isn’t surprised at the amount of crossover between SIA and Outdoor Retailer – he sees more manufacturers trying to be relevant in what he calls, “The SUV ski and snowboard market.”
“You’re seeing a lot more companies being more backcountry focused, and so I think it makes sense to try and position yourself in a way that you think might help you grow your market,” Hutcheon said. “That backcountry vibe is so strong right now, that a lot of companies are looking at ways to offer products like splitboards that let you play outdoors anywhere that you want.”
For Gary Neptune, owner of Neptune Mountaineering in Boulder, Colo., the idea that “a big player” such as Burton will be exhibiting at Outdoor Retailer might “shake things up a little bit.”
But with a limited amount of splitboards already stocked on his shelf, he doesn’t expect the news to affect his planning very much. Especially, since, as he said, “We just go to SIA so it shouldn’t actually affect us.”