Third time’s the charm: Pavilions @ OR rebranding draws more traffic

Outdoor Retailer's rebranding and restructuring of the Pavilions @ OR drew more traffic to the booth spaces outside the main Salt Palace floor.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show July 31 - Aug. 3. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

Things are starting to look up at The Pavilions @ OR following a name upgrade, with some bigger brands, categories and activities drawing the crowds.

Three years ago the tents were brought back to life after a hiatus, as the New Exhibitor Pavilion, which drew people, but not quite enough for everyone. This Summer Market, there’s a lot more than just newbies — Mountain Khakis, Rocky S2V and Zippo now highlight the space, plus action with SUP tanks and casting areas.

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“We weren’t necessarily positive that everyone was going to try to make it across [the street],” Haroutunian said. “But we pulled out all the stops and did a heroic job of making it a compelling experience.”

Some exhibitors didn’t always feel like there was good traffic in the Pavilions, and they’re interested to see if this year is any different, like co-owner of Daphne Cindy McCoy, who’s been placed across the street for three years.

“We’re in a lot better spot this year,” McCoy said, adding that she doesn’t know if people will consistently flow through the Pavilions. “But we think it’s still a little confusing for people to get here.”

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Many said they have noticed more foot traffic through the tents so far.

Renee Hanson, owner of Bani Bands, said it’s drastically improved from the two previous summers she’s been in the Pavilions.

“The booths look better, there’s more excitement and a lot of people are walking by,” she said. Last year, Hanson was in a corner spot with other exhibitors who were disgruntled by the lack of action.

Outdoor Retailer first-timer Katie Armstrong, owner of Om Collection, is interested to see how the flow works at this show. Tom Stewart, co-founder of Sunski Sunglasses, said it’s already been a positive experience, though it’s still early.

Stewart and his team were in the ballrooms at their first show, 2013 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, but he’s felt a sense of camaraderie in the Pavilions so far. “Yesterday during setup, it was great to meet all of our neighbors,” Stewart said.

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Haroutunian said it takes three years to see if something will take off at a trade show, and this third year since the space across the street became home to many new exhibitors — and a few industry veterans — has been the most successful, likely due in part to its new title.

Part of the reason behind the change was the addition of those more established companies, so the name was not completely accurate any more, Haroutunian said.

The tents, Nos. 1, 2 and 3, are also better organized by category — paddlesports and fly-fishing; apparel and footwear; and accessories.

Retailers and buyers said they still like that most new exhibitors are located in a central place, making access to those brands more convenient. “I’ve always liked the ability to go out into the tent or into the ballrooms and see the new stuff,” said Greg Shaw, owner at Second Ascent Outdoor Gear in Seattle, Wash. “If [new exhibitors are] integrated throughout the show floor, it’s harder to pull them out unless you read about them in the O.R. Daily.”

Seems like for the Pavilions, the third time really is the charm.

“The locomotive of the Pavilions is definitely rolling,” Haroutunian said. “People now know where to find the new stuff and the new brands.”

--Ana Trujillo 

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