For many BYU students with entrepreneurial dreams, the semi-annual Outdoor Retailer conference provides opportunities to make the necessary connections to get their businesses off the ground or to enhance production and enter retail outlets. This conference, one of the greatest outdoors shows in the world, has been held in Salt Lake City for over two decades.
“It’s a place to not only attend, but a place to see the big players in the industry, connect with manufacturers and retailers, and become inspired by the ever-occurring innovation in action sport apparel,” student Trevor Reese said. Reese is working on pushing the brand Booya! Blends further into the apparel world.
BYU industrial design graduate Daniel Shirley started his company, Tessel Supply, during his time at BYU. Outdoor Retailer was the outlet that helped him get started.
“Outdoor Retailer allowed us to make the connection with one of the best manufacturing companies around just simply by wearing our bags around,” Shirley said. “It got us in the door and we were able to work with them.” Now working with companies like Cotopaxi, Shirley is going back this year to see more of the creative designs that will be offered.
For industry professionals, the event provides a “playland” in which they can meet manufacturers and retailers and view some of the gear before it hits the shelves. This gathering allows professionals and entrepreneurs to make connections that would otherwise be made by cold-calling.
For students who will graduate soon, like Mitchell Brower, the event provides the connection to show what a student has done and can do upon graduation.
“You can go meet people that can turn out to be great connections in manufacturing,” Brower said.
The event was popular in 2015 with over 22,000 people in attendance and over 1,000 different brands, ranging from Clif Bar to Eagles Nest Outfitters. Thirteen percent of these companies were new.
The companies are giving a taste to media a day early this year. This exclusive offer allows journalists to come and meet the companies that supply the greatest winter and summer gear a day before the hustle starts.
Outdoor Retailer will also be holding its All Mountain Demo on Jan. 6, right before the four-day show, to give companies hands-on experience with new equipment at Solitude Resort.
This year’s Outdoor Retailer conference will be held in the Salt Palace Convention Center. The event is Jan. 7 – 10.