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After 15 years of going to the Outdoor Retailer Show

OR Show has been a Capsule staple since we fell into it with a pair of Shucking Awesome socks with our client, Fox River. We’ve been going twice a year, winter and summer, with great results each season.

The history of the show has had a few dark periods and a challenging relationship with both the state of Utah and industry leading brands (Patagonia, The North Face, Keen, and others). We were there for the move from Salt Lake to Denver and continued to promote the importance of an outdoor lifestyle. We attended during the pandemic, masked when asked and supported the effort to keep us going outside to clean, fresh, healthy air. And, now we’ve returned to Salt Lake City for a smaller show filled mostly with international brands and missing many of the industry leaders.

We keep going because we love the culture, people and creativity of the outdoor lifestyle. Because of this show we’ve been able to help clients like Smartwool, Hydro Flask, Patagonia, Leatherman, Arc’teryx, Yakima, Osprey, and Sitka. These have been very sustaining and healthy client relationships over nearly two decades. And, over this time, we’ve noticed some patterns in the industry.

The small brands come to this show for sales and visibility. The large brands once came for sales, now settle for visibility, but also to show their support for the industry. As a category, the larger brands are expanding the pie, the smaller ones are changing the ingredients. Growing the pie means more people are getting outside to connect and gain new respect for the planet and all its occupants. This is a heavy lift for bigger brands.

This is where it moves from a tangible balance sheet conversation to an intangible effort to build a smarter relationship with our planet, not necessarily a larger industry. We all know being outdoors is healthy for us and for the environment. If more people spend more time outside, we are healthier as a society and more apt to protect the spaces and planet we occupy. This is the higher obligation of the brands who show up with their resources, people and larger shoulders. These larger brands stood atop the shoulders of those who came before them, and can certainly lend a locked pair of hands to lift others up this steep climb we all have in front of us.

We hope to see more brands return, to show their support and help build a stronger relationship with the planet. The false promises of politicians was and always will be something you can rely on, unfortunately. This also means it is up to industry and the movements of entrepreneurship and business to make change tangible, rather than just debated in campaigns.

No matter how many assholes we vote out, the political world has an affinity for producing more in Hydra-esque style. So, let’s get back to an industry event where we have an implied “no asshole” policy and get back to the good work that happens outside.

Thank you Patagonia for leading the way, please do it again.

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