Promptly at nine o’clock this morning, an announcement echoed down the aisles at Outdoor Retailer to officially open the show for the day. Numerous meetings, deals, and product launches had already been conducted long before the official opening.
Time is at a premium at this four-day long show, especially since many of the attendees set aside just one or two days to be in Salt Lake City and therefore do their best to cram as many face-to-face meetings in as possible before returning to their home offices.
The biggest obstacle for most attendees may be the unscheduled “meetings,” those that crop up when running to and from a planned meeting, or event. Since the distance to travel from one end of the show to the other is so large – the Salt Palace Convention Center has more than 500,000 square feet of exhibit space – it’s amazing how anyone can get to a meeting on time. Not only is map reading a requirement to navigate the rather confusing floor space, but it is nearly impossible to walk the aisles without running into a friend while on the way to a scheduled meeting.
Sampling is a mainstay at OR. A rather appropriate treat for the trail runner was found in the Olympic Granola booth. Their trail bar was a tasty snack – not too sweet, a bit crunchy – laced with nuts and oats.
GU is introducing a new Chomps flavor – Peach Tea – a double-caffeinated delight. For the past two days the staff at GU works tirelessly to prepare a plate of Chomps, each individually speared with a toothpick and lined up in neat rows for this sampling opportunity. The Chomps are certainly a good pick-me-up throughout the long hours of the show.
GU will be introducing a new Roctane flavor this year (in the second or third quarter), and are seeking input at the show in the form of a taste test with four different flavor combinations. The choices are chocolate, chocolate banana, chocolate raspberry, and chocolate orange. The most recent taste tester was heard commenting, “Anything with bananas and chocolate makes me think of chocolate chip/banana pancakes. I’m liking that.”
Besides GU, another neighbor of ATRA at OR is the elite performance sock company, Feetures! Founded in 2003, Feetures! is a family run company based in North Carolina. This line of socks is special primarily for its anatomical right and left fit. “Feetures is the number one selling sock in our store,” according to Tim Barnes, the buyer and general manager of The Trail Store based in Louisville, KY . Barnes is at the show looking for new products and connecting with potential vendors and stopped by the ATRA booth to visit and also to share information about trail races in his community.
Directly across from ATRA is Nathan Performance. The best sellers for this hydration product supplier for the short distance events are the Sprint and Quick Draw Plus. For longer distance, Nathan’s hydration belts (and they have a variety of belts to include the trail mix and the speed series), are the top sellers. “We are seeing explosive growth in our bladder packs for anyone doing ultrarunning and outdoor activities. We place all of our pockets on the front of our packs which provides easier access to nutrition, GPS, and more, without stopping,” related Dan Knisely, regional sales manager.
One interesting product found at OR is the Klenz, also known as “shower in a towel.” The biggest client has been the U.S. government (primarily military installations), however the outdoor market is now being tapped by the company. Each packet includes one pre-moistened towel which is fragrance-free, durable, and portable. This could be a great product for trail runners especially after a muddy jaunt through the forest.
Another newcomer in the marketplace – Zodano – offers shirts made entirely in the USA which offer a well-researched performance fabric that is fun, stylish, and attractive pre and post trail run. The fabric with a silky feel, is geared to the fashion conscious endurance athlete and will be available starting February 1, in long sleeve, short sleeve, and sleeveless options for men and long sleeve for women. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zodano had its debut at last night’s Winter Exposure Runway Show. The Runway Show was the first of many “extra curricular” events scheduled at OR. Today some beer kegs were spotted just past noon, being wheeled to one of the many vendor-sponsored parties which keep attendees engaged until at least closing time when festivities move to the bars and clubs in the greater Salt Lake area. Party on!