I’ve just finished day one at the Paddlesports Retailer Tradeshow going on now in Madison Wisconsin. It is fantastic. I’m seeing old friends, many I’ve not seen for twenty years. I’m seeing boats that are beautiful and handcrafted that have disappeared from other tradeshows. I’m looking at accessories I did not know existed.
Over the past fifteen years the Paddlesports Industry has felt abandoned by the Outdoor Retailer Summer Tradeshow. During that period, the number of retailers attending Summer OR have continually dropped. This past show, there were probably about a dozen, but I did not count.
There are over 100 exhibitors here. People and products that I had forgotten about. An industry, paddlesports, with a big beating heart that loves water and helping people enjoy the water.
It is a feeling that I’ve not felt at tradeshows for a while, since Outdoor Retailer before it left Reno, NV. When people were excited to attend a tradeshow and looked forward to it. Maybe I’m being nostalgic or dreaming of days long gone and memories are always better than reality. But it just seems….
It is a little laid back, no one rushing down the aisles but that is possibly because you can get around easily, it is small. Larger than OR the first year it was at the Nugget in Reno, but still small. But everyone has a smile on their face. Everyone is happy to be here, and its a tradeshow.
I’ve seen orders being written. I’ve seen people showing lines after the beer came out. I’ve seen people working and product being bought. I can’t remember the last time I saw an order being written at a tradeshow other than in the Bison Designs booth at OR.
Walking from my hotel in Madison this morning I found myself walking with a retailer. OR came up and he said he had never attended OR. I asked why. He said timing, I would lose thousands to take time off when OR is held and I can’t afford it. Unsolicited by me. He was also a small Wisconsin retailer.
At the same time, I’ve not seen buyers form the big retailers like REI, etc., It’s a shame. If you believe that paddlesports is what shows up at OR, you are missing out on 90 exhibitors and their products you have not seen. Sure there is overlap, exhibitors, big ones, who attended OR and are here. However I think that is an indication of their support of the idea, rather than a fear of not being here.
The feelings I describe seem to be mirrored by everyone I have talked to at the show. No guarded answers on how things are going, how do you think this will work out or will you come back. All the answers were “this is great, awesome and yes.” People are happy here, people are taking orders and “writing paper” and paper are planning on attending the next one.
The paddlesports manufactures here like the association with other manufacturers in a small exhibit hall. It gives them the opportunity to learn and to shine. Several said it was nice to realize again, they where part of a larger industry.
This show would not have happened with out Darren Bush of Rutabega’s and Sutton Bacon of Nantahala Outdoor Center. Darren’s relationship in the community and knowledge of how conference center’s work, along with and I’m guessing his name and signature brought the show to life. Sutton Bacon rounded up the hitters to sign on the dotted line to attend.
Are there issues, you bet. You can’t get everything you need here. The other accessories that a paddlesports shop needs are not going to be here. No stoves (well one stove at the Point 65 booth by Liberty Mountain, no tents, no sleeping bags. None of those things that add up to more dollars spent at a store. And a lot of those manufacturers are not going to be able to split and do two or more shows. Someone is going to have to give and I suspect, like always it will be the retailers. However if the money item is boats for a retailer, the draw, then this tradeshow is where those retailers need to be.
I was not really thinking of attending, but so many people asked me about the show at OR or told me they were going, I figured it was a Can’t Miss opportunity. I was right.
I’m glad I’m here. I fly home tonight and now wish I had more time to walk and talk the show, to spend more time with old friends, to meet new friends and to enjoy the paddlesports industry.
A little rambling, but an honest evaluation of 24 hours at a new Paddlesports Retailer Tradeshow in Madison. Thanks Darren & Sutton the team you created to put this together.
If you manage a ski area or work in the terrain park you MUST know about these changes.
The easiest way to get them is to become a member of the ASTM. The cost is only $75.00 per year to get involved. Although this may seem a little like ransom, it costs to find out how you are going to be affected, look at it from the perspective of it costs $75.00 to become involved and help your industry.
The only way you can access the information or vote is to be a member of the ASTM.
If you don’t the consequences could be dire.
The new description of a terrain park jump identifies twenty (20) different parks of a jump. If you are describing a jump on the
witness stand, you want to make sure that the term you use to describe a part of the jump is fully understood and defined to all the people involved.
The vote on these changes ends August 31, 2017 so get involved now: Terminology Of Snow Sport Freestyle Terrain Park Jumps WK51845 PDF (368K)
What do you think? Leave a comment.
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I was honored by @OutdoorRetailer in their publication Celebrating Thirty-Five Years of the People and Passions that Turned an Industry into a Community.
My fellow community members included such luminaries as Peter Kray, Larry Harrison, Yvon Chouinard, Steve Barker, Carson Stanwood, Chad Gallwitz, Sally McCoy, Casey Sheahan, Chris Goddard, Bill Gamber, Peter Metcalf, Conrad Anker, Jen Taylor, James Edward Mills, my good friend Marcus Woolf, and many others. I was truly honored to be included in such a community of people, industry heavy hitters and just plain famous people.
There may not be any real reason to go to the semi annual show you might think, but the feeling of not going, of missing those friends you only see once or twice a year will always bring you back to the show. Where else are you going to get started, get that first interest from a retailer or the media about your idea. Most importantly where else are you going to become part of the outdoor industry.
I remember in 1999 after the tornado had turned the show tents into a field of liter, I worried about what was going to happen to the show. I had worked on several people in the aftermath, including the man who died. I was worried the show would not go on, and I would leave Salt Lake and have no support for my feelings or issues.
I was able to talk to Dr. Eric Weiss, of Adventure Medical Kits who assured me that I had done everything I could to save the people I worked on. I was interviewed by Fred Knapp (Sharp End Publishing) for an article about the tornado, and he asked me one question. I just started talking until I was worn out. It was Outdoor Retailer therapy in a booth. Both would have been difficult if not impossible at home and nowhere could I be in a group of people that understood. I felt safe at a trade show; such a crazy statement. Yet no other industry would even come close to being able to support that statement or feeling of safety. Yet it is the basis for the success of Outdoor Retailer. Because the outdoor industry is a community.
From the thumping of the people, waiting to get on the show floor before the doors opened in Reno and the founding and growth of ORCA (now OIA) to the trying to find a cab and a drink in the first couple of years in Salt Lake, the show has continuously provided an environment to meet, learn, greet and love the people in the outdoor industry community.
It might be the lack of suits. It might be because most of the items on the show floor are for fun. It might be walking the aisles is an Easter egg hunt, looking for that next great idea or invention. It might be because you can have a beer with your friends. I think the biggest reason for the community is smiles. You walk down the aisles of the show floor and you see smiles. Big grins as old friends or just semi annual friends are seeing each other again.
Now it is moving to Denver; If I miss a show, it will only because I’m being recycled in a corn field.
Thank Doug Schnitzspahn (the hardest working man in outdoor media) for finding me on the show floor. Thank you Emerald Expositions and Outdoor Retailer for your help, support and smiles.
|Win a trip to Interbike!
Nominate your store for the Interbike Innovation AwardsHave you grown your business with omnichannel implementation strategies? Used bike trade-in initiatives? Done an in-store remodel? If you have implemented these or any other innovative ideas and strategies to your business with positive results over the past 12 months, you are eligible for the 2017 Interbike Retailer Innovation Awards.
Retailers self-nominate using the form below, then ten winners will be chosen from individual retailer submissions by a group made up of executive staff from Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, The Mann Group and Interbike. See full details here »
The ten winners will receive numerous prizes and valuable exposure tools including:
Round-trip domestic flight to Interbike 2017
2-night hotel stay in Las Vegas for Interbike 2017 (room & tax)
Official IB Award, manufactured by Ashworth Awards
PR Toolkit to help promote the accomplishment in your local market including:
The deadline for retailer nominations is this Saturday, July 15.
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