Steamboat skedaddles to the show: Local outdoor industry workers migrate to annual Outdoor + Snow trade show in Denver
DENVER — A large group of Steamboat Springs area employees in the outdoor industry migrated to Denver Jan. 29 to 31 for the Outdoor + Snow Show at the Colorado Convention Center, marking the third year of a combined trade show by Snowsports Industries America and Outdoor Retailer.
The migration — which likely made Steamboat’s ski slopes a little less crowded — takes place every year, letting retailers peruse what’s new for the coming season and giving local manufacturers an opportunity to showcase their latest wares.
Ski Town USA was represented by Big Agnes, Honey Stinger, Sweetwood Smokehouse, Chaos Hats, Point 6, Harvest Skis, Chill Angel, Smartwool and Alpaca Imports. Heading there to see new gear for the year were buyers from such local outdoor shops as Ski Haus, Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare, Christy Sports, One Stop Ski Shop, Powder Pursuits, Fleischer Sport and more. Twelve Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs students even made the trek as part of a “Work Experience” course, which placed them in internships with various brands.
Larger manufacturers also benefit from the show’s proximity to Steamboat.
“It’s great to have our largest trade show of the year in Denver,” said Molly Cuffe, Smartwool’s director of global communications. “Since it’s close to home, more of our team can attend, which is invaluable.”
The trade show served up three days of networking with anyone who’s anyone in the ski, snowboard and outdoor industry. The Industry + Intelligence portion of the show added four days of educational presentations, seminars and panel discussions, on such subjects as climate change, diversity initiatives, tariff issues and how to get more youth out on the slopes.
Trends and new products on display at this year’s show included everything from magnetic bike pedals from a company called Hustle and solar-paneled cargo boxes from Yakima to mountainFLOW’s new plant-based ski wax, avalanche airbags that run on fans and a mirror that lets consumers trace where their jacket’s down was sourced.
In all, this year’s show saw nearly 20,000 attendees from 1,000 snow sports and outdoor brands exhibit their wares in more than 332,000 square feet of exhibit hall space. And, as usual, it also had a fun component, with happy hours, movie premieres, concerts and an industry “Rad in Plaid” party, which tried to set a Guinness record for largest gathering of plaid.
Even freelance writers descended on Denver for this year’s show.
“I go every year to spot trends,” said Steamboat freelance writer Kelly Bastone, who also used it as an excuse to join industry ski tours on Berthoud Pass and at Lake Eldora. “I could learn about a single product — or product line — via email, but the show’s gathering of brands highlights bigger trends and directions in outdoor gear.”
Manufacturers, meanwhile, went to visit with dealers, source suppliers and showcase wares to media.
“We had a few of us down there for meetings with retailers, nonprofit partners and for sourcing and product development,” said Len Zanni of Big Agnes, whose staff also attended the annual ISPO tradeshow in Munich, Germany, the week before.
Honey Stinger was on hand doling out snacks while meeting with retailers.
“Even though we’re more mainstream now, the show still represents our core user group,” said Honey Stinger’s Nate Bird. “And we were especially excited to be there this year now that we’ve fully rebranded and are going full steam ahead. You can’t beat the face-to-face interactions you get there.”
Black Tie Ski Rentals President Ian Prichard also attends every year, helping his 16 individually owned and operated stores throughout the country manage their buys for the upcoming season. In all, 28 Black Tie employees attended, including four from Steamboat.
“We put a ton of value on attending it every year,” said Prichard, who founded his first Black Tie outlet in Steamboat in 2002 before selling it to current owners Bret and Brian Savino.
Paige Boucher owns Steamboat’s Inside-Out PR and regularly attends the trade show on behalf of her clients, which include sock manufacturer Wigwam and backpack-maker Mystery Ranch.
Then come local outdoor retailers, who venture there to network and sniff out what to buy for the upcoming season.
“It’s a really important show for us,” said Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare owner Harry Martin. “We use it to finish up ordering clothes and accessories and get a sneak peak at new hard goods coming out.”
Sidecountry-type ski boots with walk modes are selling well this year, he said, as are all the new designs in AT bindings.
Thirty-year ski industry veteran Marty Carrigan, owner of Steamboat’s Global Sales Guys, attends as a sales representative.
“It’s the only place we can meet all of our specialty retail partners and show them all the brands we represent,” he said. “It allows us to create a multi-brand presentation under one booth.”
To reach Eugene Buchanan, call 970-871-4276 or email ebuchanan@SteamboatPilot.com.
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