Outdoor Retailers to return to Salt Lake City despite some industry opposition

File Photo: Outdoor Retailers

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 23, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall has confirmed the Outdoor Retailer show is returning to the Salt Palace.

The official announcement is set for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, but Mendenhall could not stop herself from tweeting a spoiler at 11:02 p.m.:

“@Outdoorreatalier is coming home to Salt Lake City!!!!!,” she wrote, adding colorful emojis to represent a handful of outdoors sports.

Gov. Spencer Cox also tweeted Wednesday about the Outdoor Retailers’ Show return:

“This is great news for Utah’s expanding outdoor industry and all those who love getting outside and experiencing the state’s natural beauty. We look forward to welcoming Outdoor Retailer back to Salt Lake City.”


The show left Utah in 2017 after outdoor retail industry leaders blasted Utah officials for supporting the reduction of federally-protected national monuments.

Just last month, more than two dozen retailers posted a statement pledging they would not attend an Emerald Exposition retailer show held in Utah.

“We’ve joined together in stating that we will not support or attend a trade show event in Utah so long as its elected officials continue attacks on national monuments and public lands protections,” the statement says, in part.

“Industry leaders are expressing their support for the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition and its longstanding efforts to protect the homeland of the Tribes and Pueblos with cultural ties to the Bears Ears landscape, as well as the overwhelming majority of the outdoor industry and the American public. Despite widespread industry objections, Emerald has demonstrated a continued interest in moving the Outdoor Retailer trade show to Utah, a state that  leads the fight against designated national monuments and public lands.”

Pres. Joe Biden has since restored protections removed by former Pres. Donald Trump, an REI spokesman Ben Steele noted.

“Although those protections have since been restored by President Biden, Utah’s leaders are again aiming to undermine those monuments and their protections. As a result, REI will not participate in any OR trade show in the state — nor will we send members of our merchandising or other co-op teams — so long as Utah persists in attacking our public lands and the laws that protect them.”

Patagonia CEO Grant Gellert also shared his thoughts in the the statement, issued Feb. 14 by the Conservation Alliance.

“For decades, Patagonia has worked in solidarity with Indigenous communities, local activists, outdoor athletes and businesses in Utah,” Gellert wrote, “We love the state and its spectacular cultural and natural landscapes. We were thrilled when President Biden restored the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments this past October, and we will oppose any effort to undermine their protection.

“Our position on the location of the Outdoor Retailer trade show remains clear and unchanged: The show belongs in a state whose top officials value and seek to protect public lands.”

Listed as those supporting an ongoing Salt Lake City boycott are the following: REI Co-op; Patagonia, Inc.; The North Face; Public Lands; KEEN Footwear; Oboz Footwear, LLC; Kelty; Sierra Designs; Peak Design; Toad&Co; SCARPA; MiiR; NEMO Equipment; Backpacker’s Pantry; Smartwool; Therm-A-Rest; MSR; Timberland; Helinox USA, Inc.; GU Energy Labs; La Sportiva N.A., Inc.; Alpacka Raft; Icebreaker; Arc’teryx; Nomadix; LifeStraw; Backbone Media; GRAYL Inc.; TripOutside; Bergreen Photography; Tread Labs; Swen Products, Inc./Sven-Saw; Kiitella, Inc.; and Vibram Corporation.

Emerald Expositions

Emerald published a statement about its decision to return the show to Utah after moving the biennial shows to Denver five years ago.

“After much deliberation and input from all sides, we’ve decided the best move for Outdoor Retailer is to return to our basecamp,” it says. “We’re heading back to Salt Lake City and County to the place we grew up and where our industry matured into the dynamic and powerful community it is today. Moving forward, Outdoor Retailer will bring the community together in January and June at the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center. We have a strong relationship with Salt Lake City and a committed partner in Mayor Erin Mendenhall, whose values align with ours following tremendous investments in clean energy and a strong commitment to public lands. This proved to be a real turning point in our recent negotiations.

“Salt Lake City and County is our hometown, and we’re going back with a commitment to effecting meaningful change. It would be wrong for us to leave the way we did and simply go back as if nothing happened.

“In reality, leaving after 2017 has not brought the change we had hoped for, so we will push back, not pull back. We firmly believe that staying engaged and collectively contributing to the ongoing discussion, no matter how difficult, is far more constructive.”

Emerald said it will take actions including:

  • Committing revenue over the next three years from Outdoor Retailer events in Utah to fund programs to support outdoor recreation and protect public lands;
  • Forming the Business with Purpose initiative in partnership with Visit Salt Lake to bring city, county, state and federal officials, public lands and outdoor recreation leaders, and industry stakeholders together for biannual meetings focused on addressing challenges, influencing policy, assisting advocacy efforts, and directing resources into protecting natural and cultural spaces and improving access;
  • Providing increased opportunities for the industry, local communities, and media to participate in panel discussions, educational activities, and volunteer projects.

Gephardt will have more on this story as it develops.


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