Outdoor Retailer convention coming back to Salt Lake City in 2023
SALT LAKE CITY — After a five-year hiatus, the Outdoor Retailer show is returning to Salt Lake City in 2023 through 2025. This move isn’t sitting well with dozens of retailers that say they plan on boycotting the show if it’s in the Beehive State.
Just this fall, Gov. Spencer Cox invited the convention back to Salt Lake.
“We are working with key stakeholders in the Department of the Interior to establish sustainable ways to manage Bears Ears National Monument, and other cherished public lands,” he said in the message.
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall says the yearly expo has been deeply missed since it left in 2017. Organizers took the show to Denver to protest Governor Gary Herbert’s support of President Trump’s reduction of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. Mendenhall says she has been working to bring the show back since then.
She says, “Frankly, right now, it seems like our city is coming unglued with joy that Outdoor Retailer is coming home to Salt Lake City.”
Mendenhall says there were several factors that brought the show back. For instance, she says the new Hyatt Regency Hotel would make lodging more convenient for the retailers coming to the show. Plus, the city has created a new public lands office. The Deseret News is reporting several retailers have said the costs associated with hosting the show in Denver have gone up significantly, compared to what they were in Utah.
However, nearly three dozen companies say they will boycott the show if it returned to Utah. They signed an open letter posted on The Conservation Alliance’s website, saying, “We’ve joined together in stating that we will not support or attend a trade show event in Utah so long as its elected officials continue attacks on national monuments and public lands protections.”
Mendenhall says she understands why companies would feel this way, but she says retailers would have a better chance of influencing public lands policies but working in Utah, not by staying away.
She says, “Don’t pull away from this fight. Join us with a seat at the table, again.”
Visit Salt Lake Executive Director Kaitlin Eskelson says they’re creating a new “Business With A Purpose” office to help create better public lands policies.
Eskelson says, “Our ‘Business With A Purpose’ group will provide increased opportunities for the industry, local communities and media to participate in panel discussions, educational activities and volunteer projects.”
REI released a statement, explaining its dissatisfaction with the move.
“We are very disappointed by Emerald’s decision to move the Outdoor Retailer trade show out of Colorado and back to Utah in January 2023 despite the strong objections of the co-op and other industry leaders.
Utah’s elected officials have repeatedly refused to protect—and are actively working to undermine—duly designated national monuments and natural treasures, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante. As we made clear in February, REI will not participate in any OR trade show in the state so long as Utah’s leaders persist in attacking our public lands and the laws that protect them. We remain committed to our employees, members, vendors and communities in the state.
The co-op is unwavering in our commitment to public lands—the mountains, deserts, prairies, waters and forests that tens of millions of Americans from all backgrounds cherish and enjoy annually. We recognize and maintain solidarity with the Native American communities who have stewarded these lands for generations and continue to lead the campaign for their protection.
We hope Emerald will reconsider the host site of Outdoor Retailer in the future.”
The Outdoor Retailer Show had a contract with Denver through this year.
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