Outdoor Retailer Winter Market Expo: Utah retailers enjoying local advantage

Published: Thursday, Jan. 21 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

HUNTSVILLE — Even on a chilly day, with low visibility on the slopes, Michael Beverly is a pretty happy man.

Sales manager of Salt Lake-based Easton Mountain Products, Beverly gets to hobnob with thousands of fellow outdoor retailers and snow sports enthusiasts at one of the top local winter resorts in the area, talking about snowshoeing, hiking and all things outdoors.

All in all, not a bad way to spend a "hump day" in the Beehive State.

Beverly is one of over 16,000 manufacturers, retailers and suppliers participating in the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market Expo 2010. While the main event runs Thursday through Sunday at the Salt Palace Convention Center, the official kickoff took place at Snowbasin resort Wednesday as many of the retailers took part in the All Mountain Demo to get a firsthand look at some of the latest winter sports equipment and technology.

"I'm grateful to have this event here," he told the Deseret News. "It's extremely important to have Outdoor Retailer here in Salt Lake."

He said having the event near his local headquarters allows his company to test its products with their retail customers and get immediate feedback, giving Easton a competitive advantage.

"Being in our backyard, we're able to show (customers) around and give them some hospitality (that they would not be able to get from outside retailers)," Beverly said.

Planning and logistics surrounding the event also are a competitive advantage that local companies enjoy, according to Black Diamond Equipment spokesman Penn Horton.

Based in the Holladay area, Black Diamond manufactures skiing, climbing and technical equipment.

"There are advantages perhaps from being local in that you don't have to fly people across the country, but (the company) looks at it like 'a rising tide' that grows the entire industry," Horton said.

Research from the University of Utah's Bureau of Economic and Business Research indicates the event generates $14 million in direct economic impact to Salt Lake City and the state of Utah, with the average convention delegate in 2008 spending $889 during a three-day stay.

Active outdoor recreation contributes $5.8 billion annually to Utah's economy, supporting 65,000 jobs, generating nearly $300 million in annual state tax revenues, and produces nearly $4 billion in annual retail sales and services statewide, accounting for almost 5 percent of the gross state product.

Several outdoor recreation companies are headquartered along the Wasatch Front or have relocated to establish significant operations in the area. Among them are Black Diamond Equipment, Petzl USA, Backcountry.com, Easton Mountain Products, Rossignol, Ogio, Chums, Zeal Optics, Amer Sports — whose brands include Atomic, Salomon, Suunto and Arc'teryx — and Peregrine Outfitters, a wholesale distributor of more than 6,000 outdoor accessories, equipment and books.

That growth bodes well for the state and the industry, Horton said.

"The fact that the Outdoor Retailer show moved here … and has continued to use Salt Lake as its base of operation is indicative of (the) commitment (to the outdoor recreation industry) and the lifestyle that the greater Salt Lake area has in general," he said.

e-mail: jlee@desnews.com

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