DENVER, Colorado - In its first ever summer show in Denver, the Outdoor Retailer annual tradeshow brought a lot of changes to the to experience of the show for the SUP (stand up paddle board) industry. Changes were both good and bad but the overall change in venue seemed to be a positive one. Here are a few takeaways from the show:
The Demo Zone just can’t seem to catch a break at this show. Year after year, venue change after venue change, something about the demo zone always feels a little off. In 2016 and years prior, one of the issues for the demo day was how far away it was from the convention center location (approx. 3 hour drive roundtrip). In 2017 a new location was set for the demo but the venue was tough because of the lack of beach. The shoreline was really rocky and unfriendly to demo attendees. Now in 2018, the demo site was incredibly convenient in location as it was in downtown Denver (just a mile away from the convention center) but the location couldn’t have been worse for both brands and attendees alike. The ‘beach’ was no bigger than the size of a few parking stalls and the water levels were so low that it was almost impossible to put your paddle in the water without hitting a rock or sand. There was only one section of the waterway that was deep enough to paddle and it was a narrow so not many paddlers were able to paddle in the area at once. Hopefully for the 2019 show a new location can be tested out to create a better experience for the brands and attendees.
2018 demo zone at Outdoor Retailer was at Confluence Park in Downtown Denver. | Photo: Supconnect
Moving the show to Denver seemed to be a great move that was beneficial to both exhibitors and attendees alike. In previous years lodging booked up pretty quickly in Salt Lake City and it didn’t seem to accommodate the crowd that the Outdoor Retailer show brings. Denver didn’t seem to have that problem whatsoever. The lodging and dining options were quite extensive and just about everything was within walking distance.
Attendance for the 2018 show seemed to have improved from the previous year in terms of SUP exhibitors however the number of exhibitors at the show was still drastically lower than what we’ve seen in years past. While some of stand up paddling’s top brands were in attendance (SIC Maui, BIC, Boardworks, Red Paddle Co) brands like Starboard, Naish and Surftech were noticeably absent.
New products showcased at the show. | Photos: Supconnect
One big improvement and noticeable difference from the show in Salt Lake City to the show in Denver was the location of the SUP exhibitors on the floor. In Salt Lake City SUP was pretty divided with brands being both on the main floor and in the overflow pavilion outside. In Denver the SUP booths were not only on the main floor but they also were towards the entrance which allowed for more exposure than in years past.
Overall the venue change for the Outdoor Retailer seemed to be a positive one for all involved. Of course there were a few hiccups this year with the demo day but hiccups are to be expected with change. Overall, Denver seems to be a great new home for the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market show and we look forward to seeing how the show continues to support the SUP industry in the coming years.
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