Power Practical: Business Networking At Salt Lake City’s Outdoor Retailer Convention

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Opportunities abound for new entrepreneurs who attended OR this year. Small companies have the potential to open big doors with a little bit of business savvy.

Picture of iPhone charging next to Power Pot and EmberLit Stove

An exhibitor at OR charges his iPhone using a Power Pot and EmberLit wood-burning stove, both from fellow booths.

After a day at the show I realized that the atmosphere was very casual and that people were interested in learning more about other products.

Retailer shows like the bi-annual Outdoor Retail show are known to provide a valuable networking opportunities for companies large and small. Each year over 200 outdoor brands gather in the snowy mountains of Salt Lake City to show off their products to retailers looking to stock up on outdoor gear for the upcoming Spring.

Exhibitors run booths that vary widely in size and glamor. Older well known brands, such as Carhart, covering hundreds of square feet and often with multiple rooms and levels. These brands provide the staples of the backpacking/camping community with backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, stoves, knifes, lights, and so much more. But it is at the smaller ten foot by ten foot spaces and younger companies that you will often find newest and coolest products.

Whether the it's the close quarters in an aisle full of 10’x10’ booths or the mentality of working at the start- up who knows, but it’s the part of the show where everyone gets to know their neighbors. It’s common to see the same product at a couple different booths at OR, but in the 10’x10’ section you can see bartering taking place and alliances forming. One booth in particular was showing off a special forces fire starting gel, in a foldable wood stove, while heating a backpacking pot which was charging the exhibitors iPhone.

Wafiq Ali, who brought the PowerPot that was doing the charging, said he was surprised at how accessible the atmosphere at OR was. “I was reluctant to do a lot of networking at different booths, since a lot of people must get tired of all the pitches,” he said, “But after a day at the show I realized that the atmosphere was very casual and that people were interested in learning more about other products and what’s new in the space.”

Outdoor Retailer is an semi-annual industry expo for the outdoor space held in Salt Lake City, Utah. It features a Winter Market in January and Summer Market in August. It is a haven for retailers, brands and journalists alike.

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Riley Swenson

Riley Swenson
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