Outdoor retailers are returning to Salt Lake City despite some industry resistance

File Photo: Outdoor Retailer

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

The official announcement is set for Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., but Mendenhall couldn’t help but tweet a spoiler at 11:02 p.m.:

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

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

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


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

Just last month, more than two dozen retailers released a statement pledging not to attend a retail trade show at Utah’s Emerald Exposition.

“We have joined to declare that we will not support or participate in any trade show event in Utah while its elected officials continue their attacks on national monuments and protection of public lands,” the statement said, in part.

“Industry leaders express their support for the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition and their long-standing efforts to protect the homes of tribes and pueblos with cultural ties to the Bears Ears landscape and open to the public for the overwhelming majority of the outdoor industry and Americans. Despite widespread industry objections, Emerald has shown a continued interest in moving the Outdoor Retailer show to Utah, a state that is leading the fight against designated national monuments and public lands.”

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

“Although these protections have since been restored by President Biden, Utah leaders are once again aiming to undermine these monuments and their protection. As a result, REI will not be attending any OR fairs in the state — nor will we be sending members of our merchandising or other collaborative teams — as long as Utah continues to attack our public lands and the laws that protect them.”

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

“For decades, Patagonia has worked in solidarity with Indigenous communities, local activists, outdoor enthusiasts and businesses in Utah,” wrote Gellert, “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 last October, and we will resist all efforts to undermine their protection.

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

Listed as those supporting an ongoing boycott of Salt Lake City are: REI Co-op; Patagonia, Inc.; The North Face; public land; KEEN shoes; Oboz Shoes, LLC; Kelty; Sierra Designs; peak design; Toad&Co; SCARPA; MiiR; NEMO equipment; pantry for backpackers; smart wool; Therm-A Rest; MSR; woodland; Helinox USA, Inc.; GU Energy Labs; La Sportiva NA, Inc.; Alpacka Raft; icebreaker; Arc’teryx; nomadix; LifeStraw; backbone media; GRAYL Inc.; TripOutside; Bergreen Photography; tread laboratories; Swen Products, Inc./Sven-Saw; Kitella, Inc.; and Vibram Corporation.

Emerald Exhibitions

Emerald released a statement about its decision to bring the show back to Utah after the biennial shows moved to Denver five years ago.

“After much deliberation and input from all sides, we have decided that the best move for outdoor retailers is to return to our base camp,” it says. “We are returning to Salt Lake City and County, the place where we grew up and where our industry matured into the vibrant and powerful community it is today. Going forward, Outdoor Retailer will bring the community together at the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center in January and June. We have a strong relationship with Salt Lake City and a committed partner in Mayor Erin Mendenhall, whose values ​​align with ours, having made tremendous investments in clean energy and a strong commitment to public lands. This has proved to be a real turning point in our recent negotiations.

“Salt Lake City and County is our hometown, and we return with a commitment to making meaningful change. It would be wrong if we left the way we did and just went back as if nothing happened.

“In reality, leaving after 2017 hasn’t brought the change we were hoping for, so we’re going to push back, not pull back. We strongly believe that staying engaged and contributing together to the ongoing discussion, no matter how difficult, is much more constructive.”

Emerald said it will take action, including:

  • Provide revenue from outdoor vendor events in Utah over the next three years to fund programs to support outdoor recreation and protect public lands;
  • Formed the Business with Purpose initiative in partnership with Visit Salt Lake to bring together city, county, state and federal officials, public land and recreation leaders and industry stakeholders for biannual meetings focused on addressing challenges facing Influencing policy, supporting advocacy efforts and focusing resources on protecting natural and cultural spaces and improving access;
  • Providing more opportunities for industry, local communities and media to participate in panel discussions, educational activities and volunteer projects.

Gephardt will learn more about this story as it develops.

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