The show must go on—somehow. 

More than two months after Outdoor Retailer officially cancelled its 2020 Summer Market due to the coronavirus, a digital substitute has been announced: Outdoor Retailer Online, which will run July 21-23 to help brands and reps "reach retailers, buyers, designers, and media in an interactive environment, featuring customizable content and the ability to connect to ecommerce programs," according to a statement from the company.

The virtual show follows the lead of similar digital programs initiated in recent months like JAM Connect and the Reveal Global Media Conference, all meant to provide workable stand-ins for events cancelled during the pandemic.

"There’s been a lot of interest in the idea so far," Marisa Nicholson, Outdoor Retailer senior vice president and show director, told SNEWS. "We cancelled the Summer Market more than two months ago, and immediately we started having conversations about what the replacement tool needed to look like. Since then, we’ve been working nonstop to refine that solution, demoing and testing different software."

The event will be a hybrid of different technologies, rather than just a simple webinar or series of video presentations. The show will include live product showings, one-on-one virtual appointments, large educational presentations, and discussion forums. There will also be digital versions of some of OR's biggest in-person show events, like the OIA Industry Breakfast and the Outdoor Retailer Inspiration Awards.

Like many of the season's digital events that have debuted since the pandemic began, if you miss the show live, you can rewatch the whole program after the fact on Outdoor Retailer's website. "The platform will be accessible to registered exhibitors and attendees through August 31, 2020," the company announced.

One hitch that participants should be aware of: Prior registration for the Summer Market won't automatically roll over to OR Online. Attendees and exhibitors will have to reregister (opening sometime in the next two weeks, according to Nicholson). The show will be free for attendees and moderately priced for exhibitors, with three tiers of digital booths available for purchase: a "Featured" level for $2,500, "Gold" for $3,750, and "Platinum" for $5,000. OR will be releasing more information about the booth tiers and what they offer in coming days.

"The most important thing at this moment in time is connection," said Nicholson. "We know people are anxious to connect and figure out their upcoming orders. This is a platform for those conversations to take place and for the work to get done."

Barring further disruptions from the pandemic, the real thing—OR's winter Snow Show—is set to return to Denver in January 2021. 

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