Utah Stories

SLC Gets Outdoor Retailer Back, but with a Sour Note Persisting

The Utah Outdoor Retailer Convention (OR), has officially returned to Salt Lake City after moving temporarily to Denver, Colorado.


Editor’s Note: This article was modified Sunday, January 15: A correction was made. The article incorrectly attributed the quote from Outdoor Retailers PR Director, the quote was from Marisa Nicholson, the Outdoor Retailer Show Director.

From Toyota Landcruisers to Lowa Boots, to Jack Wolfskin’s clothes to avalanche airbags exhibits and Wasatch and Kiitos beer –the Utah Outdoor Retailer Convention (OR), has officially returned to Salt Lake City after moving temporarily to Denver, Colorado.

This week OR hosted over 400 exhibitors at the Salt Palace convention center. This year’s convention features over 31 Utah brands. The convention kicked off on Tuesday with a drone show and a Salt Lake city block party with remarks from Mayor Mendenhall.

Noticeably absent from this year’s convention were the biggest Utah brands such as Kuhl, Cotopaxi, and Patagonia. Patagonia’s famous founder Yvon Chouinard spearheaded the effort in 2017 to move the OR from Utah to Colorado in protest of then-Governor Gary Herbert’s actions to work with President Trump to downsize Bears Ears National Monument.

Besides Patagonia, the convention is also missing large brands such as North Face, REI Co-op, and 24 total outdoor retailer brands due to Utah leaders still working to undermine Bears Ears and its new expansion under the Biden Administration.

In a joint statement the Conservation Alliance from which many of the missing brands are members, state: “Protecting our planet and supporting communities are the foundation of our brand and business…So long as Utah’s elected delegation continues its assault on public lands and the laws designed to protect them, Emerald faces a choice…” The choice being to come to Utah or to boycott Utah. They chose the latter. 

Land Cruiser Expedition rare vehicle from the Land Cruiser Heritage Museum.

Despite these big names being absent, the Outdoor Retailer Convention appears to be a big success. Still, a trend in not only Outdoor Retail, but in big brands all over America that cannot be ignored is essentially the punishment of organizations and people who do not share the same views with corporate leaders, and corporate leaders using their sway to influence political decisions.

Marisa Nicholson, the Outdoor Retailer Show Director for OR said the following about being back in Salt Lake, and the future plans of the event being back in Utah.

“We will be in Salt Lake for the next five years and are looking forward to building upon this first show back. We brought together many different voices from across our industry this past week with the intention to engage in conversations and panel discussions about advocacy and making meaningful change. We’re back in Salt Lake in June for Outdoor Retailer Summer, from June 19-21, 2023, which will stage on the heels of our brand new consumer event, Outdoor Adventure X from June17-18 at Snowbasin Resort, where people of all ages have the chance to engage in a variety of outdoor experiences and see products up close. Then, we will host our winter show, Outdoor Retailer Winter, from November 14-16, 2023, also at the Salt Palace. The support shown to us by Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, local community champions, local brands and the entire Salt Lake community has been overwhelming this week and we are very happy to be back.”

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