Outdoor Retailer 2017 – Recap and Field Notes

Last week, Outdoor Retailer, Summer Market descended on Salt Lake City for the last time. Over the course of 22 years, Utah’s capital has welcomed the industry and its cast of memorable thinkers and doers, creating a home away from home that many attendees have come to know and love. While moving OR to Colorado has been widely supported, there was plenty to get sentimental about as folks enjoyed the show’s last run in Salt Lake City.

Even a slimmed down version of OR (after several major brands pulled out) is still impressive and overwhelming. To make the most of your time, it’s best to take the Disneyland approach, walking the entire floor once to see everything, twice to sample a few things, and three times to stop and chat.


Field Notes

Change and action were common themes at the event, in one form or another. From a business standpoint, Amazon and the shift from brands toward a D2C model were topics that dominated conversations everywhere, from the show floor to the dim corners of the local taverns.

“This year we saw widespread acknowledgment of the changing retail landscape,” said Ryan Riggs, Netrush Director of Sports and Outdoor. “A lot of the resistance toward Amazon and digital we’ve seen from brands and retailers is now being met with the reality of changes happening across multiple industries. This was evident in the seminars and sessions our teams attended, and very apparent through conversations we had with brands. To see the outdoor category migrating or being open to the changes going on, and finally making moves to a more digital strategy — was refreshing.

The call to action at many of the seminars was for brands to be mindful of customers when thinking about strategy; to think about how customers are shopping, browsing, engaging with products online, and making purchasing decisions. Naturally, Amazon was a big factor in every conversation. For a brand to fully take advantage of the opportunities on the horizon, there’s a need to think progressively about all aspects of D2C model, from awareness online all the way through to the supply chain.

This Land Is Your Land – March for Public Lands

From an environmental standpoint, which is still close to the heart of all present, there was no ignoring the elephant in the room. Event organizers and participants alike are saddened by Utah’s stance on public lands, and they pulled no punches when making these feelings known. Thursday, July 27, culminated in a March for Public Lands that saw thousands marching to the State Capitol to make themselves heard.


For all the changes to retail and rivalries that exist between brands, this single issue unifies an industry that cares deeply about public access to public land. The people who make and drive this industry are switched on. They’re not angry; they’re organized, motivated, and ready to do battle with their checkbooks, their voices, and their time. It was inspiring to see.

Click here for a full recap of the March for Public Lands or a detailed rundown of all the seminars and activities at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.

From a Netrush standpoint, Outdoor Retailer is a pet favorite that everyone loves going to because 1) the show is basically Disneyland for the outdoor world, and 2) it’s an opportunity to catch up with our brand partners in a fresh setting, outside the office. With a new venue on the books, we’re excited to see OR run in Colorado and look forward to reconnecting with everyone in January.

Thanks to all of our brands and to everyone who made 2017 another special year.