SKI BIG 3 TRAVERSE
Words by Kevin Hjertaas | Photos by Bruno Long Contradiction, they say, is the key to humour. Perhaps that’s why Rob Heule,...
Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show, the biggest trade show in North America for the winter sports industry, is set to take place on January 30th – February 1st in Denver, Colorado. As always, Forecast will be front and centre, providing you with sneak peeks of next year’s gear, but in an effort to get primed and ready, we recently sat down with OR’s Retail Relations Manager, Chris Sears, to preview what to expect at this year’s show, along with a look at the state of the industry at large.
Outdoor Retailer’s Chris Sears
Outdoor Retailer Snow Show 2019 is coming up in January. What is new this year that retailers should keep in mind and include in their show plans?
We are introducing a few new value additions for retail buyers. Our “Shop the Show with an Industry Vet” program allows them to gain a seasoned perspective on how to navigate the show and what to look for as an experienced buyer. The “Retail Buyer Buddy Program” provides a centralized meeting point for buyers to network with other retailers, share insight and develop retail collaborations. And, the night before the show starts we host “The Mingler,” a networking event that gives all attendees an opportunity to reconnect with old friends and make new while enjoying live music, food, and drinks. For attendees, we also have an extensive education lineup, plus curated show areas return, such as Venture Out, the Scandinavian Village, and LUXE. More information on all of these activities is at outdoorretailer.com.
Outdoor Retailer just completed its first full year in Denver. How was the initial year in the new city?
Denver has welcomed the outdoor industry with open arms, and we had three great shows in 2018. Hosting the show in a larger city has provided our attendees with more housing options, better transportation, and excellent restaurants. The city boasts extensive options from sports, to arts, to outdoor activities both locally and in the nearby mountains. We look forward to our continued partnership with the City of Denver and to providing our attendees with the best experience possible for years to come.
With two winter season shows now—Winter Market and Snow Show—what are the differences and how should retailers approach each show?
Outdoor Retailer is about opportunity and discovery. Both shows, while evolving, provide a different focus which are based on buying deadlines. Winter Market leans towards footwear, apparel, and innovation and it’s the kick-off for the winter selling season. Snow Show highlights late season introductions which focus on snowsports hardgoods. The two shows book-end an extensive buying season, allowing retailers to focus on the split deadlines that occur between softgoods and hardgoods.
What advantages do retailers and other businesses gain by attending the big shows, like Outdoor Retailer, versus regional trade shows?
While regional shows are valuable and allow buyers to drill down to specifics with current vendors, Outdoor Retailer provides a view through the comprehensive lens of the entirety of the industry. Our team strives to provide a “30,000-foot view” of everything the industry can offer a retailer. Discovery is the number one reason for attendance, along with creating new partnerships and bringing the community together. Outdoor Retailer also provides major funding for the Outdoor Industry Association which advocates for the industry on trade and recreation policy and promotes participation and the enjoyment of the outdoors for all.
Why should Canadian retailers consider attending Snow Show? How is Outdoor Retailer supporting international buyers and brands?
Outdoor Retailer is the largest snowsports and outdoor show in the Americas. Canadian retailers have an opportunity to shop over 800 brands, network with a variety of non-profits and media outlets, demo new products, and celebrate our awesome industry, all under one roof. The attendee relations department is available to answer and assist any questions or concerns from buyers and reps. The Scholarship application is available online for retailers to submit a request for travel assistance. Reps can also recommend their accounts who have challenges attending due to budget constraints. For any brand or exhibitor inquiries, contact our sales team.
A common topic of discussion recently is around the changing face of retail. How do you view the evolution of brick-and-mortar shops and what to you see as the future of retail?
Experiential shopping offers in-person service and is something that online retail will never be able to replicate. From a proper boot fitting, to community events, to expert knowledge, the specialty retailer provides that local edge. We are also seeing more collaborations with retailers and community organizations. We expect to see the continued growth of in-store educational courses, such as backcountry safety and ski tuning, as well as in-store programs like group outings and women-focused events. Also, while retailers continue to sell their own private label goods, stores are also curating local and regional brands as part of their commitment to tell their own story.
What’s new and exciting when it comes to ski and snowboard hardgoods this year?
• The Blizzard Shiva Ski is a women’s ski designed with the rider in mind, focusing on the subtle nuances that solve the problem women skiers of all sizes and skill levels have had for years, being forced to use smaller sized men’s skis.
• DPS is helping improve the performance of your hardgoods and has introduced its PHANTOM waxless glide technology that provides a new take on protecting our watershed. They also won an Outdoor Retailer Innovation Award for this technology at Winter Market this past November.
• Sustainability—several brands are currently implementing material stories with bamboo, and other fibers that not only improve performance, but have less of an impact on the environment. Check out Arbor Snowboards and Liberty Skis.
• Performance Analysis and Wearable Technology—the Rossignol PIQ sensor is tracking runs and monitoring performance on each run. Madshus continues to evolve their ski technology and eMpower app. And, Garmin watches provide feedback along with navigation tools for the backcountry. Having the ability to quantify your skills are yet another means to progression.
What’s trending when it comes to ski and snowboard softgoods?
• A wider array of backcountry specific goods are more prevalent from a larger number of brands.
• Products with an innovative focus on efficiency, like hydration packs built in to outerwear, backpacks with numerous functions, and accessories built to keep you at the top of your game all day on the mountain. 686 has developed the GLCR Hydrastash Reservoir Insulated Jacket – is features the world’s first built-in micro hydration system with a water bladder inside the powder skirt.
• Sustainability stories are also driving innovation in the snowsports space, emphasizing the need for consumers to educate themselves as to the alternative materials in the products they purchase. Volcom has introduced their Repreve Recycled Polyester, keeping True to This in their commitment to the planet. Picture Organic Clothing and Holden Outerwear are among many other brands also using sustainable materials and processes.
• Technology-focused gear impacting safety, progression of skill, and a more intuitive user experience are being found at the resorts and in the backcountry. Also, KJUS has developed the first jacket that uses a technology called HYDRO_BOT which monitors and reduces perspiration by pumping moisture out of the jacket, all managed via an app.
• The outdoor and snowsports industries are also in line with what we’ve seen lately in fashion with the athleisure category – creating apparel and footwear that are great in multiple venues. It’s layers that would be good for both travel and après ski. It’s jackets that are both technical and fashion-forward and that work well either on the mountain or running errands.
Any new up-and-coming ski and snowboard brands and trends that retailers should make a note of checking out?
There has been a rise of boutique ski and snowboard brands offering unique stories to the millennial consumer. We see that in brands like Prior, Meier Skis and Dinosaurs Will Die Snowboards. Some of the growing brands to be sure to visit at the show: Black Crows, Liberty, Save The Duck, Terracea, DAHU ski boots, and Skida headwear. Some of the product trends that have stood out to our team include: retro vibes that are bringing back bibs, color blocking, and maybe even giving one-piece suits a new resurrection; in both the hardgoods and softgoods categories, technology is a common thread we are seeing to help improve a rider’s safety, capability, and help make a day on the mountain that much more enjoyable; and backcountry gear and accessories is an area a lot of brands are making a focus. Attendees can download the Outdoor Retailer show app to investigate what’s new at Snow Show and prepare to maximize their time. It’s going to be a great show!