How vendors and retailers are navigating a new trade show schedule.
Conversation As the OR schedule gets more complicated, how vendors and retailers are adapting.
As trade show Outdoor Retailer’s Winter Market kicks off in Denver on Nov. 8, the industry is debating what a schedule shift will mean for business.
Outdoor Retailer now has three major dates on its calendar: this week’s event, the Snow Show in January and the Summer Market in June. (OR relocated to Denver for this year’s edition and absorbed SIA, which is rooted in skiing and snowboarding.)
Organizers said they have tried to formulate a schedule that works for everyone. “It all started [a few years ago] with a survey to our constituents and retailers [about] timing,” said Marisa Nicholson, OR’s VP and show director. “What we’ve seen is more product being introduced in very early time frames.”
But the addition of an event in November has sparked confusion among brands, attendees and media.
“OR is a big trade show for us, and as a smaller brand, it represents a huge part of our sales and marketing budgets,” Forsake marketing director Jack Knoll told FN. “Because of that factor, we have to be super-attuned to the success and failures of spending money. We’re hopeful that November brings potential benefits because it’s at the start of the sales season — though if it ends up being an ineffective show for us, I know we can’t foresee us committing to it long-term.”
From a footwear perspective, some brands cited other unique challenges. “We’ve been forced by outerwear companies to go into this November cycle,” said Peter Sachs, GM of Lowa. “When certain big companies hold up a red jacket, they also show a shoe to go with it. I’m trying to Compete for that market share in November.”
Some merchants said the schedule shift is part of an evolving climate. “It would be easier if there was one [physical] show,” said Ira
“The big challenges are just being on the road more, which takes us out of the office more.” — Wes Allen, Sunlight Sports
Rosh, DMM for Paragon Sports in New York. “[But] we’re not facing any big hardships with how things are evolving. We’ll adjust accordingly.”
For Sunlight Sports in Cody, Wyo. — with deep roots in both the traditional outdoor arena and the ski and snowboard markets — multiple show dates are creating obstacles. (The retailer also attends the Grassroots Connect show in November.) “The big challenges we see are just being on the road more, which takes us out of the office more and away from overhead work — and, most importantly, our customers,” coowner Wes Allen said.
To support retailers, Nicholson said OR is touting its scholarship program to ease the burden of traveling to both shows. “We’re taking the fund and trying to spread it out over as many retailers as we can,” she said. Finally, the show will host its Innovation Awards at this week’s event to help fuel the community spirit.
A Salomon boot at the 2018 Snow Show