Conference Recap


Gary Chiappetta
CEO & Partner

February 19, 2019

As we are nearing the end of the ski season, manufactures are showcasing next seasons products at the bi-annual Outdoor Retailer Show. I had the pleasure of attending this Snow Show last week in Denver, Colorado. This show is organized and managed by the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), which hosted the same show I attended this past November. However, this show was different. The atmosphere was high energy. Loud music played through-out the convention center and beer was handed out at the end of the day. I could tell everyone was happy to be there. Rewind two years ago and this was not the case.


OIA, a voice of the outdoor industry, is a membership-driven trade organization. Their goal is to work with members to increase participation of outdoor activities, adventure and recreation while being a force in sustaining the environment. In February 2017, OIA announced that their current host city of Salt Lake City, Utah was not living up to primary core value of sustainability. The show that had been held at the same convention center for more than a decade and attracted over 50,000 people announced its move to Denver,  Colorado. A progressive city that better met the organization’s expectations of environmental and ethical responsibility.


A partial reason for the move was based on a political agenda of the current administration and supported by Utah Governor Gary Herbert. Their ideas oppose the very values that represent the OIA and its members, environmentally and economically.

In February of 2017, OIA Executive Director Amy Roberts was quoted in an article written in The Salt Lake Tribune, saying that The OIA specifically asked Herbert for four measures that outdoor businesses consider important to their future in Utah:

  1. End legal efforts or support for congressional action that would facilitate the sale or transfer of federal lands to the states.
  2. End efforts to nullify the Antiquities Act.
  3. Maintain protected status of Bears Ears National Monument in Southeastern Utah (Governor Herbert, that same month signed a resolution from the Utah Legislature asking President Donald Trump to rescind Bears Ears monument designation.)
  4. Support other public lands that provide the backbone of the industry’s sales.

With these four measures in mind Amy Roberts said, “it is important to our membership, and to our bottom line, that we partner with states and elected officials who share our views on the truly unique American value of public lands for the people and conserving our outdoor heritage for the next generation.”


“The most memorable attribute of this show was that manufactures and brands focused on not only performance, but sustainability, for the planet and for profit.”


There were many peaceful protests held by outdoor enthusiasts before the change was announced. Large companies such as Patagonia began to pull out of the show which in turn hurt the profit the city was making from hosting this convention. Now in its second year in Denver, the show is continually growing in size, and more importantly staying true to its values.

Patagonia, a company that always leads with values over profits said it best with a simple message stating, “ We’re in business to save our home planet.” From responsible manufacturing to protecting the very resource that we inhabit, this is what a great brand does. They create a great product that proves its worth, but first and foremost they align themselves to a clear belief system. And they demonstrate those beliefs more than they describe them. 

So, there I stood among thousands of attendees and rows upon rows of vendor booths with like-minded people. The most memorable attribute of this show was that manufactures and brands focused on not only performance, but sustainability, for the planet and for profit.  Although the OIA is neither a manufacturer, distributor or retailer, but by standing up for what they believe in, they solidified themselves as a brand I’m proud to support. And judging by the energy in the room that weekend, I’m most definitely not alone.