So you are moving to a new town. You are worried about wither or not you will fit in and what the other kids are going to say about you when you get there?

Have no fear, Denver is a pretty easy place to fit in, especially if you are wearing climbing, skiing or any outdoor gear. You look out in street clothes in a lot of cases.

First thing you need to know, Marijuana, nothing else I really need to say.

Lot of more information after that sinks in.

Downtown streets do not run north or south. The streets run NW – SE and NE – SW.  So North and South directions down town will be confusing, but only in the downtown.

If you get lost, the mountains are to the west. At night, the big dark areas (or a big cross) are to the west.

Free Mall Shuttle: Go 2 blocks east out the front door of the convention center and you can catch a free shuttle that runs
up and down the
16th street mall. On the shuttle you can access about all the rest of downtown quite easily. (You are not allowed to skateboard or rollerblade on the mall. If you get caught you get a ticket unless you are in your 40’s or above where the cop just looks at you like you are an idiot and that says something about your age, IQ and don’t let him catch you doing this again.) The shuttle goes all the way to the RTD Light Rail station at Union Station where you can catch the A-Line to the airport.

BEER it’s real in Colorado and it has alcohol in it. Not only that you can order two at a time!!!!

Mixed Drinks, they are poured by a person and you can have two at a time.  You can even have 10 at a time if you want. A nice tip and a smile can do wonders for your drink. Meaning if the bartender does not move the bottle after the ounce has poured, you get to drink it the extra that comes out. No magic state government finger stops the flow of Wild Turkey! (I try and drink what I am!)

Colorado does not track the waiters or waitresses who serve liquor either so you don’t have to feel like you are being watched when you have a drink.

MarijuanaYup!  thought I would repeat it just for the fun of it. Smile

Cowboy hats can still be seen around town, but they are fading. Big belt buckles, (or as a friend of mine calls them
tombstone for a dead d@$k) are harder to find, thank heavens.

Vehicles & Denver: The city of Denver sees vehicles as another way to make money. They have traffic camera’s
everywhere and will issue tickets for anything, such as being in the crosswalk ($75.00). Even parking in the convention center parking garage with a tire on the yellow parking line is $75.00. Don’t drive in Denver, if you have to move around, walk or take a Pedicab or light rail. There are two pedicab companies I think Denver Pedicabs LLC and Mile High Pedicabs.

I’ve driven to Downtown Denver twice in 12 years and gotten a ticket each time. I don’t drive downtown. In fact I avoid downtown Denver. The most over the past five years I’ve been downtown is for the SIA show. If I do have to go I take RTD
Light rail
. See the map below.

B-Cycle: The easiest way to get more than a block from anywhere downtown is to rent a bike at a Denver B-Cycle Station. The easiest way is to go to the website and download the app.  The app can tell you where the stations are and how many bikes are there. Using the kiosks is easy. Find the bike you want to ride and with your cell phone number and credit card you’ll be riding in 90 seconds. There is a station right next to the light rail station at the convention center.  You can buy a 24 hour ticket which allows you to ride in multiple 30 minute increments. Check the bike back in after 30 minutes, eat dinner, get another bike and ride home.

If you get in a jam, etc., call the B-cycle number (303)825-3325. The staff is awesome and will solve your problem.

Lodging: Lodging should not be a problem in Denver. The best deals might be away from downtown. If that is the case find a hotel that is on RTD light rail. Walkout of the convention center at night, turn left and there is a light rail station and you can go anywhere. (Well not Boulder yet.). The W line has a stop behind the Sheraton which is a great hotel with a dozen bars within walking distance. (My favorite is Chad’s across the street. Use my name, it will make the staff laugh…….) There are five or more nice hotels on the E & F lines going south. Also a couple on the H & R lines, but those would be long rides.

Also south on the C or D line at the Osage Station is the Buckhorn Exchange. It serves a lot of local wildlife as food and has Colorado Liquor license #1 (this is not the place for vegetarians.)

Cycling & lodging or just cycling: If you want to ride a bike the convention center is one block to an entrance to the Cherry
Creek Bike Path. That bike trail goes South East to Aurora and Northwest to REI. At REI,  or Confluence Park, you hop on the South Platte River Trail you can ride south to Littleton or North to almost Thornton. From the North part of the South Platter River Trail you can intersect with the Clear Creek Trail and ride to Golden. By the next year you’ll be able to ride to Utah if you really want to.

Airport (DIA):   It’s big and confusing.  The best way to get downtown is on the light rail. Come off the airport train, up
the escalators and if you turn right to the end of the hall and follow the signs to the train.

Cabs are about $35, the airport is a long way from downtown. Shuttles are much cheaper. Rental cars are on the airport and still a long way away. There is no walking across the street to pick up your care. This is a big city with a big city airport. At the same time, it will be easy to get here with Five big runways.

If you have a hotel downtown, get off the A Train to the airport and walk to the free 16street mall shuttle to get to your

Sports: Denver has every professional sports team. During the summer show you can walk to a Rockies game and in the winter to a Nuggets game. You can see indoor and outdoor Lacrosse, Soccer, Ice Hockey at different levels of play, etc., etc., etc.

COPS: You are going to see more, especially along the 16th street mall. They’re there for you. They’ll be friendly and help you out. Do something stupid or take a swing at one and you’ll find concrete is the safest part of the street! And don’t call me. Don’t be dumb and the Denver Police Department has great employees.

Costs: Hotels downtown are the same price as hotels at SLC during the show. But you’ll be paying rack rates not some you’re here so we raised the price cost. You can’t smoke in any hotel room, marijuana or other products. If you do, you’ll find a monster charge on your cleaning bill when you get home. Just like trying to steal stuff from the mini-bar. You’ll probably be
able to use your hotel points and booking rewards, hopefully.

Strip joints. There are several down town and you get to see things, just not use your imagination. If you want to see
everything, you can’t drink.

Jail: got me, I don’t do criminal work and using my name won’t get you anything except a higher bond or my jail time.

Other Activities: You already know about them because this is your industry and your sport.

There are no dress codes in any restaurant in Denver. So you can fit in whatever you are wearing at the show. Here are some notes that will make your first day of school or Outdoor Retailer easier.

I am curious where the outdoor demo is going to be held. There are three big lakes on the outskirts of Denver and several small ones in Denver. Winter I’d guess Echo Mountain just outside of Evergreen, Loveland or Eldora ski areas.

More coming. Stay Tuned or send me your questions.

 Denver Light Rail Map



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Trade Show season for the outdoor industry is starting. The big question: What is the future of tradeshows?

Tradeshows make a statement as well as keep an industry going. We need tradeshows.

No denying that tradeshows are having issues. The numbers of attendees are dropping and the numbers of people who are “buyers” are disappearing.

However, it does not matter how many people show up at a tradeshow as long as the right people show up.

I believe in National tradeshows.

They are important because they allow small new businesses to introduce themselves to the world. Jetboil and Vibram Five Finger shoes are recent examples. Those are designs or ideas that could not make it without an introduction to a national audience. You can get lucky and have a magazine or website put your product out there, but a tradeshow is your best bet. In fact, most magazines go to tradeshows to find those new great items.

Yes, there are other shows besides a national trade show, consumer shows, rep shows, etc.. However, finding and exhibiting at those shows for a new manufacturer is difficult and expensive. For the rep shows if you don’t have a rep, you can’t get a booth. Very few reps are going to pick up an unknown line. Consequently, the new manufacturer has no way to get his product introduced to the masses without a national show.

A national show gives a new product or a new company the opportunity to reach national retailers, national media and the world.

Legal & Risk Management reasons for Tradeshows

Tradeshows also allow manufacturers and retailers to exchange ideas, which make the industry better. Tradeshows allow interaction between parties, which raises the standard of care for an industry.

Risk management ideas are exchanged between everyone at tradeshows. Everyone attending learns something and sometimes one thing is enough.

Tradeshows allow “old guys” to talk about their past, how the mountain was higher and the snow was deeper on every peak we climbed.

Sales ideas are traded at tradeshows.

Retailers leave tradeshows with new ideas on how to sell new and old products. One retailer tells of their success with a marketing idea to an exhibitor, and that exhibitor passes the ideas on.

This occurs when reps are in their territories, but not as consistently, and they are sometimes forgotten in those long drives from one store to the next.

Tradeshows provide tons of benefits.

Tradeshows also make statements. A tradeshow tells the industry it is vibrant and healthy. It generates interest both in the attendees and those that do not attend and consumers. Big trade shows get consumers online because they know they can see the latest and greatest.


Tradeshows cost a lot of money, to put on and to attend. That amount is relative. If it costs too much to attend you don’t go, and if it costs too much to put on, you won’t.

SIA suffered major traffic loss when the show moved to Denver. Compared to Las Vegas, Denver is a very expensive town to fly into and stay. Salt Lake City has the same reputation during OR week. I know a few retailers who have given up and just fly in and fly out the same day, if the come at all.

And those of you that argue one city is better than another to host a trade show, there is really only cost issue. Yes, Las Vegas sucks to bicycle around, but you are not spending big bucks to go cycle. Inside the tradeshow the air, the lights and the exhibits, all seem to be identical in Denver, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. It does not matter where the tradeshow is located as long as it works for the attendees.

Not Exhibitors? If you get enough buyers, the exhibitors will show up on mars.

·         The cost for retailers has to make sense.

·         The time to register and book a trip, including lodging has to be easy.

·         The tradeshow has to occur at a time when the retailers know how much money they will have to spend next year and what sold and did not sell this year.

·         The exhibitors must have a value in attending the tradeshow and that means a bottom line they make more money than they spend.

I don’t have any answers really. I do have concerns. I believe we need trade shows for more reasons than just buying and selling. At the same time, without buying and selling there is no reason for a tradeshow.

See you at the next tradeshow.

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