Outdoor retailer makes its big return to Utah this week

Jan 9, 2023, 9:00 AM

SALT LAKE CITY — Monday is a huge day for Utah, as the massive tradeshow Outdoor Retailer gets ready to make its official return to the Beehive State.

The last time downtown Salt Lake City businesses saw an influx from Outdoor Retailer was back in 2017, right before it ended its 21-year run at the Salt Palace. The show was one of Utah’s biggest, known to bring hundreds of millions into the local economy twice a year.

Back then, sister restaurant and bar establishments Ivy and Varley, just down the street on 100 South, weren’t open. Manager Rob Provo explained they opened their doors two years ago, well after Outdoor Retailer vacated Utah.

But they’ve seen what convention traffic from the Salt Palace can bring. Anyone leaving from a long tradeshow day hungry and ready for a cocktail will immediately see the neon business signs.

“We’ll have hundreds of people coming down 100 South, and plenty of them will walk right into Ivy and Varley,” Provo said.

He knows this week will be no different as Outdoor Retailer makes its grand return following a five-year stint in Denver.

Rob Provo, manager of Ivy and Varley, bartending at the bar across the street from the convention. (KSL-TV)

Senior Vice President and Show Director Marisa Nicholson said there’s a “renewed energy and excitement around being here.”

She explained how they signed a five-year contract to stay in Salt Lake. They’ve worked hard over the past year, Nicholson expressed, which included multiple site visits.

“We’ve been working really closely with Visit Salt Lake, and state and local officials around the welcoming back of Outdoor Retailer,” Nicholson said. “We’re super excited to be here. I’ve been hearing from our customers as they’re rolling into town just how welcoming everybody’s been.”

She said they’re expecting 10,000 people to attend, from brands with their sales and marketing teams, to retailers and their buying groups, to sales representatives looking at picking up new business, to designers who will look at products and set product trends several years out.

Fifteen to twenty percent of those attending will fly in from different countries and regions of the world.

Senior Vice President and Show Director Marisa Nicholson expressing her excitement on returning to Utah. (KSL-TV)

Nicholson explained how Outdoor Retailer will be different this time, as they add more community-focused events like a homecoming party.

That party, which will take place Tuesday evening, is open to everyone in the Salt Lake community, Nicholson said. She also mentioned excursions like a summit and on-snow demo experience at Brighton on Monday just before the show itself kicks off Tuesday.

During the summer, she said they’re planning a consumer event at Snowbasin the week before the summer Outdoor Retailer tradeshow. That will be open to all consumers interested in camping, hiking, climbing, and more.

She’s noticing things are different in Salt Lake, too.

“You guys have so many new hotels– which is wonderful– new restaurants, so just being able to go and try them and talk with them,” Nicholson said.

That includes Ivy and Varley. Provo explained how they’ll be fully staffed and ready for all the new customers this week.

“Being so close to the convention center, they have different meetings scheduled throughout the day so sometimes lunches will be very busy. A lot of the time we’ll have dinner be busy as well with the hotels being so close too,” Provo said. “So just being kind of right in the heart of the convention definitely brings in a lot of business to the restaurant.”

Inside the Salt Place Convention Center as the Outdoor Retailer begins to set up. (KSL-TV)

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Outdoor retailer makes its big return to Utah this week