DENVER — The Outdoor Retailer's Snow Show is back in Denver after it was postponed in 2021 because of COVID-19. The show is notably smaller this year, hosting 350 companies unlike other years where it hosted more than 1,000.
This year there are also some notable no-shows. Companies like Patagonia, North Face and Gore-Tex backed out of the production due to corporate COVID-19 policies and the rise of the omicron variant.
But many smaller retailers see this as an opportunity to take the spotlight. Cory Higgins, the co-founder of Jetty Coastal Lifestyle Apparel out of New Jersey, says face-to-face time at conferences like this is valuable.
"The retailer's time has been cannibalized by the larger brands," he said. "Having actual meaningful conversations with really important retailers across this country, we can't do that anywhere else but at this show."
The show debuted products across the outdoor outfitter spectrum, from skis and bikes to apparel and camper vans. Many of the smaller brands were able to take up prime real estate in the showroom as retailers met with brands.
The expo brings in tens of millions of dollars to its host city, but COVID-19 has made the business of in-person showrooms more difficult. Regardless, many of the companies and retailers say the city's proximity to the outdoors makes it a prime location.
The contract between Denver and the show's organizer, Emerald Expositions, expires this year after the Outdoor Retailer's summer show in June.
"This has been a great city," said Marissa Nicholson, the show director for Outdoor Retailer and senior vice president for its management company, Emerald Expositions.
She says the company is in the process of looking at its options when it comes to future contracts. However, she says Denver is still on the list.
"I think that our retailers really enjoy having the show here in Denver," Nicholson said.
The Outdoor Retailer Snow Show will run through Friday, Jan. 28.