Steamboat heads to the Outdoor Retailer Tradeshow | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat heads to the Outdoor Retailer Tradeshow

— While Ziggy Marley was belting out "Exodus, Movement of Ja People" at Wednesday's Free Summer Concert Series, another exodus ensued from Steamboat Springs to Salt Lake City, Utah, for the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Tradeshow Aug. 5 to 8.

In all, nearly 150 locals traipsed westward to attend the outdoor industry's biggest annual get-together, including at least seven outdoor manufacturers, as well as buyers from local retailers, manufacturers' reps, public relations experts and more.

A few products from the local side

What would a product round-up from the show be without plugging a few stand-outs from Steamboat companies? Following are some local products you don't have to travel to Salt lake City to see.

Hala Gear Atcha 86: Measuring 8'6"x34"x6,” this baby ($1,349) is a smaller and sportier version of its popular Hala Atcha surf play board, perfect for the likes of the Yampa River. Hala also unveiled the StompBox™, the first-ever, spring-loaded fin system that collapses upon contact with submerged rocks and springs back into fin operation (i.e. no more dreaded "supermanning" off the board due to abrupt stops).

Big Agnes Krumholtz UL2 mtnGLO (with Goal Zero): Available in spring 2016, this 4-pound, 10-ounce, two-person backpacking tent ($649.95) features Big Agnes's award-winning mtnGLO lighting technology and keeps gadgets powered in the backcountry with a 7W Goal Zero Solar panel. The rain fly features multiple solar panel placement options and integrated weather-proof chord routing. It also includes Goal Zero fan, lantern and flip 20 battery.

SmartWool Women's NTS Micro 150 Tank: Made from 100 percent Merino wool, this layer ($70) features Jersey knit, form fit and stretch merrow stitching for comfort and a feminine aesthetic. With a Charley Harper National Park Poster Butterfly pattern, it comes with side seams that wrap to the front for a body-enhancing fit.

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Chaos CTR Summit Bucket Hat: Fabricated for full sun protection and comfort, each hat in this collection ($36) provides a minimum UPF rating of 30. Select styles incorporate S.Café® technical coffee bean composite fibers into the fabric, which result in styles with supple, lightweight and odor-resistant properties.

Honey Stinger Caramel Waffle: True SourceTM honey provides the powersource for the new Caramel Waffle from Honey Stinger, which debuted at this year's show alongside the new grapefruit Organic Energy Chews.

Sweetwood Cattle Co. Fatty Sampler: Featuring all-natural, USA beef, the new Sweetwood Fatty Sampler ($12) consists of two snacks in one: a 2oz Original Fatty and 2oz Jalapeno Fatty, made from Premium USA Beef and Pork, contains no nitrates, no MSG and is gluten free. It’s naturally hickory smoked and flavored with all natural herbs and spices

"The show lets retailers see what's new and lets manufacturers exhibit their newest wares," said consultant and former show director Kenji Haroutunian. "And it allows small brands a level playing field with larger brands.”

Steamboat-based companies fit both molds, including such bigger companies as SmartWool, Honey Stinger and Big Agnes and smaller businesses like Point6, PowerICE and Hala Gear.

“It's our largest tradeshow of the year," said Molly Cuffe, marketing director for SmartWool, which led an 85-person, 400-mile bicycle ride to the show. "It lets us showcase everything we stand for as a brand and sets the tone for the upcoming season. And we love that the show is close to Steamboat, especially for our annual bike ride, which is a great way to build team camaraderie.”

Other local outdoor brands echo the show's importance.

"Outdoor Retailer is an integral part of our business," said Honey Stinger outdoor sales manager Nate Bird, who joined a fleet of employees from Big Agnes at this year's show. "The face time and product exposure we get with buyers is invaluable."

Point 6 founder Peter Duke mans the Point 6 booth in the show's ballroom.Eugene Buchanan

Smaller brands, including electrolyte-replenishing PowerICE and inflatable stand-up paddleboard company Hala Gear, also use the show to make a sales splash. Hala founder Peter Hall said it’s the best place to show retailers his new products, highlighted this year by the Hala Luya and Atcha 86 models, which attendees sampled at both an on-water demo and poolside at his booth.

"This year’s show is huge for us," said Hall, who gained a Japanese distributor at last year's show. "We're releasing five products and accessories all designed here in Steamboat, all of which are taking people by surprise."

Chaos Headgear, whose customer service and shipping operations are based in Steamboat, is equally smitten with the show. "With the introduction of our new CTR collection, OR gives us the potential to become a four-season brand," said CEO Richard Tock. "We're using it to open new markets in more southern and warmer locales."

SmartWool's Laura Fryer and Todd Givnish champion the benefits of merino wool. Eugene Buchanan

Buyers gain as much as exhibitors, with local retailers making the trip to stock their shelves.

"OR is very important to us," said Ski Haus manager Murray Selleck, who took five employees to this year's show. "It lets us catch up with existing manufacturers to see their new product but also lets us look for the smaller guys still breaking into the market with new and exciting ideas."

Barry Smith, who has attended the show ever since opening Mountain Sports Kayak School 34 years ago, attends to suss out new kayaks and SUPs to use on the Yampa River. But he also goes for the show's social scene and networking.

"I go to see all the new equipment but also to see all my old friends," he said. "It's a great gathering place."

With an educated workforce, easy airport access, high-speed Internet and world-class product-testing grounds, Steamboat is indeed a hotbed of outdoor businesses, and the annual OR show is one more place they all gather besides the slopes of Mount Werner or trails of Emerald Mountain.

"Our base of outdoor manufacturers here is a major driver of the community that decreases our reliance on tourism and offers year-round employment and quality wages," said Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association CEO Jim Clark. "It makes Steamboat a much more balanced economy. We seem to stand out with regard to outdoor businesses calling Steamboat home."

A few products from the local side

What would a product round-up from the show be without plugging a few stand-outs from Steamboat companies? Following are some local products you don’t have to travel to Salt lake City to see.

Hala Gear Atcha 86: Measuring 8’6”x34”x6,” this baby ($1,349) is a smaller and sportier version of its popular Hala Atcha surf play board, perfect for the likes of the Yampa River. Hala also unveiled the StompBox™, the first-ever, spring-loaded fin system that collapses upon contact with submerged rocks and springs back into fin operation (i.e. no more dreaded “supermanning” off the board due to abrupt stops).

Big Agnes Krumholtz UL2 mtnGLO (with Goal Zero): Available in spring 2016, this 4-pound, 10-ounce, two-person backpacking tent ($649.95) features Big Agnes’s award-winning mtnGLO lighting technology and keeps gadgets powered in the backcountry with a 7W Goal Zero Solar panel. The rain fly features multiple solar panel placement options and integrated weather-proof chord routing. It also includes Goal Zero fan, lantern and flip 20 battery.

SmartWool Women’s NTS Micro 150 Tank: Made from 100 percent Merino wool, this layer ($70) features Jersey knit, form fit and stretch merrow stitching for comfort and a feminine aesthetic. With a Charley Harper National Park Poster Butterfly pattern, it comes with side seams that wrap to the front for a body-enhancing fit.

Chaos CTR Summit Bucket Hat: Fabricated for full sun protection and comfort, each hat in this collection ($36) provides a minimum UPF rating of 30. Select styles incorporate S.Café® technical coffee bean composite fibers into the fabric, which result in styles with supple, lightweight and odor-resistant properties.

Honey Stinger Caramel Waffle: True SourceTM honey provides the powersource for the new Caramel Waffle from Honey Stinger, which debuted at this year’s show alongside the new grapefruit Organic Energy Chews.

Sweetwood Cattle Co. Fatty Sampler: Featuring all-natural, USA beef, the new Sweetwood Fatty Sampler ($12) consists of two snacks in one: a 2oz Original Fatty and 2oz Jalapeno Fatty, made from Premium USA Beef and Pork, contains no nitrates, no MSG and is gluten free. It’s naturally hickory smoked and flavored with all natural herbs and spices