OR Show Still Low-Key For Snowboard Retailers

The Outdoor Retailer show is a powerhouse in the outdoor world, with a dynamo hum of activity and commerce, new products and technology. But for snowboard manufacturers and retailers, it’s still a bit of a backwater, a chance to downshift, enjoy a low-key on-snow demo, and see emerging trends in parallel industries.

“I found myself able to stop and visit companies I never have time to talk to at the SIA Vegas show,” says Thom Forster, owner of Gravity in Virginia Beach, Virginia. “It’s great to see some of the influences that affect our industry.”

Dennis Nazari, president and founder of Salty Peaks Snowboard Shop in Salt Lake City, Utah, also found the show a nice change of pace. “The on-snow is almost the perfect size,” he says. “I can actually ride a lot of the boards from each of the companies there¿instead of just riding one or two. In fact, I even have time to ride the boards of manufacturers I don’t carry in the shop¿that’s a great help to seeing what’s happening in the industry.”

The Outdoor Retailer On-snow demo included fairly busy booths from snowboard companies such as Ride, Salomon, K2, Nike, Palmer, and Belligerent. With fast, hardpacked snow, Park City served up some excellent testing conditions, and the Sundance Film Festival in town brought out some unique Hollywood-types to the lifts.

Inside the Salt Lake City Convention Center, other snowboard-related brands such as Hard Corps, Convert, Da Kine, Bonfire, Gnu, Evolution, and Cold As Ice were doing business and showing the lines. “A lot of people are stopping by and asking us if we’re going to be at Vegas,” says Belligerent’s Christian Lass. “When we tell them yes, they usually say they’ll meet with us there. But the show is good to give these shops a little sneak peek at the line, so when they show up in Vegas, they already have a good handle on it.”

Gnu was a first-time attendee of the show, and Sales Manager Jason Locking says he was pleased with the traffic at the booth. Other brands, however, say the show has a ways to go before it’s an important stop on the snowboard buy/sell cycle.

“It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem,” admits David Loechner, a vice president at Miller Freeman, the company the runs the show. “The snowboard manufacturers say we need more snowboard retailers to show up before they participate, but without all the manufacturers being here, it’s hard to get the number of retailers we’d like to see. The timing of the show is great, and I think the brands that are here are finding it valuable.”

A twenty-percent increase in preregistration figures led to a 10.5-percent boost in buyer attendance at this year’s show, which attracted 14,965 attendees despite harsh winter travel conditions in many parts of the country.